Kia Motors America North America Research & Development HeadquartersEdit profile
Kia Motors North American Research and Development Campus Irvine, California Intent Kia Motors is a critique of the typology of the American suburban office park sited appropriately next to a major interstate highway, within a sprawling master planned development in Orange County, California. The project is the result of a determined effort to elevate the discourse of the suburban office park building typology through a thoughtful and creative embrace of, (rather than resistance to) the stringent economic constraints of tilt up concrete construction and standardized components. Site The site plan is organized by oppositional outdoor rooms, one grand in scale and scenographic in character that faces Interstate 5, and an accompanying, south facing space which marks the main entry of the headquarters building. The informal entry and gathering space is contiguous with the entry plaza and extends south to include the main entry to the design center. These two outdoor rooms are configured to focus both attention and use at the symbolic heart of the campus, which in plan uses the building massing to strategically position and visually screen the enormous amount of code required surface parking. This pair of contrasting spaces maintains visual continuity through the multistory main entry, aligned with the southern approach from Peter's Canyon road, and frames a view from the north of the company's product when seen from across the water feature from passing (and frequently traffic captive) motorists. An intimately scale garden element immediately adjacent to the main circulation loggia phenomenally extends north into the water feature to create a platform upon which a vehicle is ceremonially projected outward, drawing the transient gaze of the thousands of potential passing consumers. The project was built in two phases. Headquarters The Headquarters building is composed of a two elongated two-story structures containing office and technical functions, joined by a third level glazed "bridge" for executive and administrative offices. The bridge floats above a gracious, top-lit automotive reception gallery. The complex accommodates a wide range of uses"from office and technical functions to design and gallery spaces " with a series of generous, light-filled areas. Exploring the limitations of tilt-up construction, the simple and efficient structure provides generous spaces for showcasing Kia’s products and repetitive and efficient enclosure for office and automotive uses. The panel sizes are repetitive and provide a maximum ratio of glazing to a minimum amount of concrete. The panels are tapered in section to express the vertical load paths carried within. The spandrel condition of the glazing is eliminated, and instead exposes the horizontal reinforcing beam of the tilt up panel structure. It is intended to be a didactic "vision box", in contrast to a typically concealing "shadow box". The main reception gallery is enclosed by a series of 27-foot-high pivoting glass doors that connect the gallery directly with the south facing entry plaza and a large multi-purpose room. The pivoting doors create a flexible indoor-outdoor environment for special events, while allowing cars and equipment to be easily moved into and out of the building for advertising and product launch functions. The multipurpose room is used by the surrounding community, and has hosted the South Coast symphony as well as a wide array of non-business functions. It is connected to the lobby through a monumental barn type sliding door. The building contains two large mechanical plants at both the northern and southernmost extremes. Automotive functions are gathered at the west elevation opening out towards a utilitarian vehicular and service apron. All garage spaces are naturally illuminated by means of a series of large clerestory windows located above the roll up doors. Design Center The main entry plaza presents the front door of the Design Center beneath a monumental steel roof structure. Marking the building's main entry, the roof is an emphatic, shadow creating canopy suspended from extended roof structure which while admitting limited amounts of natural light, also accommodates the required vertical clearances for shop equipment. The roof structure and overhang are the primary organizing elements that tie together various functional areas within the building. The specific program needs of the Design Center resulted in a building configuration whose large footprint supported a network of extremely specific required plan adjacencies between functions. A triangulated workflow between the design, presentation and modeling disciplines is contained within. At the westernmost portion of the building, suites of shops are located alongside the modeling and design studios. To the east of these design studios, two specialized presentation rooms and an outdoor court allow designers to study and present “in progress` automotive designs at full scale in both natural and artificial lighting environments. The character of the building is loft-like. A naturally lit open studio environment uses exposed structural elements and building services in support of the often sprawling and expansive nature of the work taking place within. These creative work functions are able to move from interior to exterior through a series of operable doors that connect to enclosed courts on two of the building’s three sides.