November 29, 2016

26,000 Construction Products Used in Hilti Headquarters

Imagine trying to conceive a headquarters that expresses the next generation of the innovative workplace. And to convey that evolution without knowing the client’s identity. Such was the unusual brief handed to Gensler principal and design director Paul Manno. He responded by devising a flexible system of different “neighborhoods,” grouping shared amenities at the corners to encourage interdepartmental communication. The adaptable and engaging plan won the job—and eventually Gensler’s Design Excellence Award for a small built workplace.

In the gallery, products rest on custom pedestals. Photography by Ryan Gobuty/Gensler.

Real work began once the project was revealed to be the North American headquarters of the construction product manufacturer Hilti, owned and operated by the Hilti family in Lichtenstein since 1941. With Hilti’s red-and-white logo a global market presence, the company is “as brand-rich as you can get,” Manno says, adding that honoring the request for innovation meant doing more than “just putting the name everywhere.” Instead, he built Hilti products into the very architecture of the 75,000-square-foot space, spread over three levels of an office tower in Plano, Texas.


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Diamond-core bits, painted Hilti red, compose a monumental screen alongside the floating staircase that rises from the café to the product-display gallery. There, rows of circular saws, set at an angle, line a wall. “We cannot have a wall of sharpened blades,” the product engineers warned. So they and Manno figured out a way to skip the blade-sharpening part of the manufacturing process.

Made from speed sleeves, custom pendant fixtures illuminate the oak-veneered stepped seating in the part of the lounge nearest to a pair of training rooms. Photography by Ryan Gobuty/Gensler.

In a corridor, 20 designers and Hilti employees spent a few pizza-fueled late nights screwing 2,000 tools and fasteners into another feature wall. Many of the pendant fixtures throughout were crafted from the company’s speed sleeves, while its cable trays, powder-coated red, brighten circulation routes. Even the frames demarcating break-out areas are powder-coated girders.

All in, 26,000 Hilti products were used in the space, built exclusively with Hilti tools. Consider that Manno’s bold statement that the next-generation workplace is made with the work, itself.

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