Responding to the call to develop a relationship with the local landscape, the Overland team based the layout of the Grande Cheese Home Office on that of a barn from a typical Wisconsin dairy farm, where four walls, made of stone at the base and wood at the higher regions, envelop a central courtyard. Throughout the Grande facility, lower walls made of stone from the region symbolize heritage and tradition, while upper walls include wood elements that cantilever outward and signify innovation extending into the world at large. In homage to the legendary Wisconsin-born architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the interior is punctuated with stone fireplaces that create a homey atmosphere, while numerous floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide open views of gardens, orchards, and a parking lot that resembles more a forest than a hardscaped desert. The relationship to the landscape is reiterated throughout the building with the installation of an international collection of artwork many of which are based around themes from nature.
Strategically, the corporate headquarters was designed to engage visitors in appreciating the fine art of making cheese. From the main lobby, which is the facility’s two-story central hub, one can see three kitchens where chefs and technicians are busy at work making, testing, and tasting cheese, while cheese byproducts are converted into usable protein powder. Other features that are open to visitors include working laboratories, a catering kitchen, a cafe, and an espresso bar. Hallways are lined with didactic panels explaining the cheesemaking process, and videos provide additional opportunities for learning about the company’s processes and techniques. For those interested in institutional history, a Heritage Room on the second floor, which serves as the anteroom to the boardroom, features archival displays and artifacts.
In addition to providing their employees with offices and numerous conference rooms, all of which have views onto the landscape, the Grande Cheese Home Office includes a health clinic, fitness center, reading library, break rooms with recreational offerings, “reenergizing rooms” with massage chairs and areas for resting, and an outdoor courtyard with a long table that can seat one hundred people and is located next to a waterfall.
For visitors and employees alike, the Grande Cheese Home Office is not just a place of business, it is a complete experience illuminating the fine craft and time-honored tradition of cheesemaking. It is a place where, as Blonkvist notes, “you can see it, eat it, and smell it.”