Project: Zurich HQ

A focus on employee experience, sustainability, wellness and future success.

In an exciting moment for Zurich North America, the company today announced the opening of its new 783,800 sf headquarters that will be home to nearly 3,000 employees and contractors. The new corporate headquarters is the result of a remarkably extensive workplace testing and engagement effort that crowdsourced ideas from Zurich employees years before the opening. CannonDesign is proud to have had its workplace strategy, interior design and change management teams contribute to this dynamic project.

“This building is a showcase of all we are at Zurich: its excellence in design, its focus on sustainability, and its reflection of our employees,” said Mike Foley, chief executive officer for Zurich North America. “ Our new headquarters building embodies a new chapter for our organization and our recommitment to the North American market as part of our broader, global business plan.  We see a bright future for our customers, shareholders and employees.”

Project: Zurich HQ

Project: Zurich HQ

To ensure the new headquarters is best suited to meet its employees’ needs, Zurich partnered with CannonDesign to execute a workplace testing experience where 150 Zurich employees spent three months testing four uniquely configured office neighborhoods early on in the project. During the 12-week workplace testing effort, employees split time between individual workstations and shared spaces throughout the pilot floor, all while testing different office furniture, meeting spaces, enclaves and conference room that could be incorporated into the HQ. Before, during and after the workplace test, Zurich employees provided feedback via employee surveys, observation, focus groups and town hall meetings.

The workplace testing experience revealed key employee preferences for natural light, enclaves and sit/stand desk furniture. CannonDesign also leveraged its proprietary workplace metrics to note the following:

  • Frequency of interaction within teams in the workplace test increased 19%
  • Satisfaction with flexibility to use different spaces throughout the day increased 64%
  • Satisfaction with the workplace pilot space increased for all generations
  • 64% of those involved said communication with their group improved

Following the workplace testing experience, Zurich also tapped 160 employees as Change Champions to help make the workplace move a success via change management best practices. The company has also begun implementing changes across other US offices in response to the research and data acquired in the workplace test.

“Zurich’s commitment to creating a workplace that responded to their employees’ needs and preferences has been remarkable to see throughout the life of this project,” said Meg Osman, executive director of CannonDesign’s Corporate/Commercial Practice. “They have raised the bar for what it means to engage employees in the design of workplaces and have valuable metrics and research as proof. It’s inspiring to see how their efforts will position them to excel in the future.”

Further enriching an effective workplace, the new environment also incorporates a conference center, auditorium, coffee bar/retail concourse, café/dining atrium and fitness center.  Throughout the design process, consideration was given to every aspect of the employees’ needs and the community that Zurich serves.  In particular, ensuring the employees’ wellness and the culture of the organization was instilled was paramount.  Mark Hirons, Design Principal for CannonDesign, notes “Ultimately creating an inspiring and engaging experience was absolutely essential.  Zurich has a powerful and impactful story and having an environment that reflects that spirit meant everything.”

One of the largest corporate projects in North America over the past few years, the Zurich project also stands out by other key measures:

  • The Zurich HQ has earned LEED Platinum certification, the highest sustainability rating available from the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • The headquarters is designed to reflect the company’s global reach and world-class stature, introducing an architectural solution composed of three bars. The arrangement works in tandem with the interior environment to create unique spaces for collaboration, open views and key flexibility and adaptability opportunities.
  • The new Zurich campus also includes a memorial garden to honor the four Zurich employees who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks and has numerous terraces, lawns, rooftop gardens, water features and walking paths to further enrich the employee experience.

In addition to Zurich North America’s unwavering commitment to the success of this project and CannonDesign’s contributions, several other firms played key roles. The building was designed by architectural firm Goettsch Partners; Clayco is the developer and design-builder.  The building was designed by architectural firm Goettsch Partners. The interior was built by Executive Construction, Inc. (ECI).  The landscape was designed by Hoerr Schaudt. JLL’s Build to Suit practice group coordinated all development and financing activities. To learn more visit

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