Pearson is one of the largest employers in Eastern Iowa with nearly 1,000 employees filling the Iowa City office during the day. The nature inspired renovation of their 142,000 square foot space provides a new lobby, café, meeting center, video recording studio, open office space, and library.

The design adheres to Pearson’s Open Plan Standards which requires an open office floorplan with a higher concentration of “WE” collaborative spaces. The WE spaces are broadly distributed and range from small phone booths to large, open gathering spaces. Each are outfitted with a variety of furniture types from tables and chairs to plush lounge seating to accommodate diverse functional needs. A café, wellness room, and a new library “quiet room” serve as additional employee amenities. 

The design team introduced a biophilic design concept – connecting buildings and occupants with nature.  At Pearson that included better access to existing perimeter daylighting and integration of natural and local materials. Research has shown that contact with nature and design elements that mimic natural materials have proven to positively contribute to employee well-being, productivity, and creativity. Opening up the large floorplan allows natural perimeter daylighting to carry further into the space. Additionally, skylights were installed in interior spaces deep in the center of the floorplate. To help with wayfinding of such a large space, the building is divided into five zones based on theme, color, materials, and texture. The themes were inspired from regional imagery and include water, grain, flora, stone, and woods. Green, living walls will be installed near the entries with live planters distributed throughout the office.

Work was scheduled in three phases and the building remained occupied and operable throughout the duration of the construction.

Project Type



Iowa City, Iowa


142,000 SF (renovated)