ESRI headquarters | Hvidt Arkitekter

• December 24, 2009

ESRI Hvidt plusMOOD 5 595x334 ESRI headquarters | Hvidt Arkitekter

ESRI headquarters, image courtesy of Hvidt Arkitekter

Denmark-based Hvidt Arkitekter has completed the new headquarters for the American software company ‘ESRI’ (Environmental Systems Research Institute) located in California, USA.

+ Project description courtesy of Hvidt Arkitekter


The new headquarters of the American software company ’ESRI’ in Redlands, east of Los Angeles, California, has been designed by HVIDT ARKITEKTER. The building has now been completed and is ready for occupation.

HVIDT ARKITEKTER was contacted by ESRI’s owner, who had been in Denmark and seen some of HVIDT ARKITEKTER’s head offi ce designs, and he was very impressed of these buildings.

Subsequently HVIDT ARKITEKTER participated in the competition among several other American architectural fi rms – and won. Cooperation was then initiated with the locally based drawing office, Armantrout Architects, who were already cooperating with ESRI.

The headquarters, encompassing 8.000 m², is constructed in connection with ESRI’s existing buildings in a campus-like and very green area, traversed by an avenue of high palm trees. The main entrance of the new building is located at the end of the avenue.


The domicile consists of two building volumes, the offi ce wings, and a large intermediate glass atrium, where the entrance is located. The two volumes are faced with Californian red wood in a warm orange colour. The atrium facades stand as a continuous glazing, constructed in frameless glass and mounted on light steel constructions with discreet steel fi ttings. With a height of 14 m, these glazings are the highest top-hung glass facades in the world.

ESRI Hvidt plusMOOD 7 595x428 ESRI headquarters | Hvidt Arkitekter

ESRI headquarters, image courtesy of Hvidt Arkitekter


The volume of the atrium is contained by four sculptural concrete walls that extend outside the building into the landscape and over the roofl ine. The concrete walls further emphasise the directionality of the atrium, creating movement from the entry garden, through the atrium and to the gardens on the southern side. Simultaneously, the walls create verticality within the space, drawing ones eyes upwards. The cool steel and glass construction interplays with the dynamic orange colour of the wood and the two light concrete plates, which match facings, stairs, balconies and other fine concrete details, both inside and outside the building. The large atrium and the partly freestanding concrete plates create a transition from the building to the landscape outside.

ESRI Hvidt plusMOOD 6 595x334 ESRI headquarters | Hvidt Arkitekter

ESRI headquarters, image courtesy of Hvidt Arkitekter


Two light bridges span the width of the atrium, connecting one offi ce wing to the other. From the bridges there is access to a suspended wooden box with meeting rooms at each level. A light, white stair that moves vertically through the space creates a contrast to the heavy, grounded concrete walls. In addition to the offi ces, which can accommodate 250 employees, and to the various meeting rooms and a café, a lounge and a canteen, the headquarters accommodates a magnifi cent auditorium with 300 seats. The auditorium is state of the art, and all surfaces have been constructed with the aim to ensure optimum acoustics. Despite the size of the room, it is possible to make speeches without using a microphone. All materials chosen for the interior of the building are based on the wish to optimise the indoor climate, and at the same time ensure beautiful, solid and easyto-maintain surfaces. Wood walls and flooring have been used throughout the project to bring a warmth and Scandinavian touch, but also improve acoustics. The auditorium uses a combination of maple and cherry panelling that have been thoughtfully designed with acoustics in mind, placing perforation at carefully located places and creating specially formed surfaces that strategically refl ect the sound so that the space is ideal for small seminars and large presentations.

ESRI Hvidt plusMOOD 3 595x793 ESRI headquarters | Hvidt Arkitekter

ESRI headquarters, image courtesy of Hvidt Arkitekter


Both the building owner and the local residents are very enthusiastic about the new headquarters. At the inauguration, ESRI’s president, Jack Dangermond, said “The building is an artistic expression. It is not only functional, but it is an incredible piece of beauty. How people interact with it is wonderful… The building is a beautiful thing all by itself”. ESRI’s director of company operations, Don Berry, expressed his enthusiasm by saying “I want to make our other buildings feel like this. The building is so energizing. I want to be in my office”. Redland’s planning commissioner, Eric Shamp, has also praised the modern building design and called the project “a step forward for Redland’s design”.

ESRI Hvidt plusMOOD 4 595x446 ESRI headquarters | Hvidt Arkitekter

ESRI headquarters, image courtesy of Hvidt Arkitekter


The building has been constructed so that it meets the Californian demands to insulation, indoor climate, water and energy effi ciency etc. Very effective sun screens have been installed, and the choice of glazing has been based on the amount of sunlight. Protective planting along parking areas and other outdoor areas around the building supplements the sun screens and minimises the “heat-island” effect.

The auditorium is placed on the south-west corner of the building. The entrance to the space is at grade but descends nearly a full level under grade level. The two cast-in-place concrete exterior walls in combination with the location underground create help to control temperature swings and reduce the need for cooling. In addition, the domicile has energy-effi cient light fi ttings, water-saving toilets and water-free urinals. A large solar cell system on the roof contributes to the building’s power supply.

+ Project credits / data

Project: ESRI headquarters
Design: Hvidt Arkitekter, architectural services in cooperation with Armantrout Architects
Owner: Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.
Floor area: 8,000 m²

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Category: Architecture, Office