Heifer International World Headquarters
Little Rock, Arkansas
Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects
Heifer's international headquarters building is a focal point for hunger education in America – a place to host seminars, conferences and working sessions addressing world hunger issues. Each visitor who enters the campus sees firsthand how we can all help end hunger and poverty by becoming better stewards of the planet.
Heifer International took a long-abandoned railroad yard in Little Rock’s old warehouse district and transformed it the “green” way – by using only socially and environmentally responsible methods and materials – into its world headquarters and educational center.
The four-story, semicircular office building framed with steel plate shear walls was constructed on one the largest brownfield recoveries in the state. Roof framing consists of a wood roof deck spanning sleepers on top of steel beams spanning steel girders that in turn span steel tree columns. The tree columns consist of round pipe columns that continue from the floors below, cantilevering approximately 8 ft above the fourth floor, with steel pipe members creating the branches supporting the roof framing. The roof is inverted to provide a “valley” in the middle of the building to collect and recycle rainwater. Extended steel beams at the roof edge are capped with galvanized steel grates to extend the sun protection and lighten the edge in a crownlike fashion.
The design employed extensive cantilevered floor elements to minimize the number of columns and provide a feeling of openness. The building presented several challenges to the design team, one of which was working with round columns. The project team initially considered round cast-in-place concrete columns and a steel floor framing system, but eliminated this option due to concerns with tolerances for the concrete and connecting the steel to the concrete. It then considered round precast concrete columns, but ultimately decided on large round steel pipe columns to satisfy the architect’s desire for round columns, as well as to ease connection of the steel framing to the columns.
One of the major goals for the building was to use locally sourced materials that would exceed LEED requirements for distance to site and recycled content. Steel was fabricated at a facility just three blocks from the site, and the aluminum curtain wall and skin, making up over 90% of the exterior, was fabricated directly across the street at a major glazing company. In all, 97% of the project’s materials were recycled.