Property Type: Commercial
Neighborhood: Downtown  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Public  |  Architectural Style: Brutalism
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As one of the world’s largest growing companies, MK constructed its original headquarters building, Plaza I, in 1970. An intriguing building, with a very 70s, or even late 60s appeal, it is constructed of brick, with large horizontal lines of windows, broken up by vertical rectangular columns several feet out from the building wall. A large overhang at the top of the building seems to give a bit of a Frank Lloyd Wright feel.
As such a large, and worldwide company, time brought needs for expansion. This first brought Plaza II, the office building behind Plaza I. Possessing many similar features to its neighbor, this building has walls constructed of glass, made to look like it were just one sheet of glass/window for the entire wall (A common theme throughout the Plaza buildings). Designed by a local architect, it was built in 1975.
With a very interesting history of design, function, and development, comes the Central Plaza stretch. Before looking at the actual style of the building, it is important to know its background. At the time, the local government was planning and building the freeway through downtown, and had plans to utilize imminent domain on the land precisely where Central Plaza stands now, all through the Park Center area (which MK owned), and perhaps connecting to the freeway again. For somewhat obvious reasons, MK was outraged, and plotted a battle with the city, to retain their land. Aside from shear expansion purposes, Central Plaza was built in attempt to “take up the whole parcel” of land, as well as go right across the planned freeway placement. In combination with threats to move the company to another city, the plan worked, obviously, and the freeway now stops at what we call the “Connector,” downtown on Front Street and Myrtle Street.
In terms of the actual design, Central Plaza – built in 1982 – is a unique piece of architecture as well. Featuring a rather internationalist and post-modern design, the building displays the same “One-pane of glass” ideal and style for the windows. Originally designed to have an entirely glass exterior, displaying the three bronze colors you can mostly see today, due to one Vice President’s complaints, the design was slightly modified. In attempt to satisfy the complaints, concrete was “slapped on the front,” creating a thick layer of concrete, as well as periodic columns on the left and right sides of Central Plaza. The entrance remains as designed, fully glass.
The Plaza IV expansion building, was also built in 1982, and essentially echoes the styles of its neighbors. The bronze glass is used again, with concrete columns near the base, at the level of central plaza, and then a more smooth look on the upper levels.
Inside the Central and Plaza IV buildings, a common theme near the windows is small cylindrical columns. As there are no window sills or frames, they have to be supported somehow. In construction, the panes were actually glued to the support frames on the inside, supported by small columns.