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American Family Insurance

BL2 Renovations

American Family Insurance operates within a series of office and support buildings at their national headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. The corporate cafeteria, known to its employees as BL2, occupies approximately 30,000 square feet at the ground level of the “B” building.

The BL2 cafeteria was designed over 20 years ago as a traditional dining room and servery. The space was found to be highly utilized over the lunch hour but remained nearly empty the balance of the day due to its overwhelming scale, lack of flexibility, and absence of technology. The goal of this renovation was to transform BL2 into a destination that promoted well-being and collaboration.
The design concept for the new BL2 work café is the home. The large floor plate was subdivided into smaller, more manageable zones to create landmarks and improve wayfinding.

The largest zone within BL2 is The Dining Room. This space is immediately adjacent to The Servery and can accommodate up to 245 users at a time with its mix of standard dining tables, private booths, and community tables. This space is highly functional during dining hours but can also be utilized off hours with an increased access to electrical power and large plug-and-play monitors. Residential-feeling lounge furniture scattered throughout the light-filled Sunroom, the active Rec Room, and the cozy Library supports casual dining, informal collaboration, and private work. The Kitchen is the heart of the space and is supported by two auxiliary micro-kitchens. These spaces increase access to sinks and microwaves while encouraging impromptu interactions and offering a spot to gather.

The Servery and commercial kitchen underwent a renovation to increase user efficiency, upgrade equipment, and replace inappropriate finishes with food-safe surfaces. A coffeehouse was designed to fill a need for off-hour food and beverage options.

A mezzanine structure was built within the two-story space to break up the volume and increase the programmable area of BL2. The space below the mezzanine is home to The Coffeehouse, while two of BL2’s eight formal meeting rooms occupy the upper level of the mezzanine. The combination of layered ceiling clouds, a warmer color palette, and a natural canopy created by potted trees help bring scale to the space.

Wellness is promoted by offering recharging zones for different personality types. The main dining space is bookended by an active, energetic Rec Room and a quiet, restful Library. A connection to nature is made through the two-story curtain wall overlooking the manicured grounds, a living wall, and the use of natural materials.

The result is a thoughtful mix of dining space, meeting rooms, micro-kitchens, recreational and quiet spaces which have transformed BL2 from a one-dimensional cafeteria corridor into an enticing destination.

Location:
Madison, WI

Client:
American Family Insurance

Size:
30,000 SF

Construction Type:
Renovation