American Family Insurance operates within a series of office and support buildings at its national headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. The corporate cafeteria, known to its employees as BL2, occupies approximately 30,000 SF at the ground level of the “B” building.
The original BL2 cafeteria was designed over 20 years ago as a traditional dining room. The space was highly utilized over the lunch hour but remained nearly empty most of the day due to its overwhelming scale, lack of flexibility, and absence of technology. The renovation goal was to transform BL2 into a destination that promoted well-being and collaboration and increased employee engagement with the space.
The largest zone within BL2 is the dining room. This space is immediately adjacent to the serving station and can accommodate up to 245 users at one 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 during off-hours with increased access to electrical power and large plug-and-play monitors.
Residential-feeling lounge furniture is scattered throughout the light-filled sunroom, the active rec room, and the cozy library. This helps support 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.
A mezzanine structure was built within the two-story space to break up the volume and increase the functional area of BL2. The space below the mezzanine is home to The Coffeehouse. 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, and recreational and quiet spaces which have transformed BL2 from a one-dimensional cafeteria corridor into an enticing destination. This is a welcoming space for many groups, multiplying the reasons for employees wanting to spend time there.