Dairy Farmers of America Headquarters – Kansas City

Dairy Farmers of America's new global headquarters in Kansas City are inspired by the 15,000 dairy-farmers they represent from agrarian material selections to thoughtful branding, every detail of the design reflects the company's culture and history.

  • Client Dairy Farmers of America,
  • size 110,000 sqft
  • Year 2017
  • Location Kansas City, Kansas,
  • Industry Food / Beverage,
  • HOK completed the headquarters for Dairy Farmers of America located in Kansas City, Kansas.

    The design of the new three-story headquarters for Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest milk marketing cooperative, pays tribute to the 15,000 dairy farmer owners while communicating the organization’s global reach.

    The design team used every program element and design detail as an opportunity to tell DFA’s functional and cultural stories. The result is a nuanced, sophisticated brand interpretation that honors the farms where dairy products are produced and the family tables where they are served.

    The agrarian-inspired building materials subtly reinforce the foundation on which the cooperative is built and their farming heritage. The exterior features a Garapa wood rainscreen facade on the first floor, which hosts a variety of celebratory functions. The second and third floors, which house corporate functions, are wrapped in expansive curtain wall glass to reflect the company’s global reach.

    The lobby welcomes visitors with a whimsical, two-story, 25-foot-tall milk pour. The glossy white pour is made from foam with an application of hardening high-gloss lacquer that organically pools onto the floor of the reception waiting area.

    The feature stair off the lobby features reclaimed wood treads in what resembles a glass and white container. The sides of the staircase transition from glossy white to clear, with a custom gradation on the glass creating a milky appearance that provides privacy. The stair base lands on poured-in-place concrete, again grounding the design with agrarian materials. This concrete base cascades into a café, multipurpose room and milk bar.

    Locating the milk bar in the heart of the building highlights the product as the focus of DFA’s continued success. The team envisioned the milk bar as a space that would help employees celebrate the product and the hard work of the farmers. Locally-sourced milk is available on tap for visitors and staff.

    All fabrics are natural fiber wool that resemble modern interpretations of denim. A farm-inspired plaid is sourced from British suit maker Paul Smith. Selecting leathers that had been kept as natural as possible ensures that the material will take on a beautiful patina as it ages. Raw, hot-rolled steel reinforces both the production side of DFA’s business and the gritty feel of the family farm. Concrete is used throughout, including on the floors of cafés and on the countertops of meeting room credenzas.

    The design reinforces DFA’s dependence on nature by blurring the lines between indoors and out. In the café, 50 feet of the exterior walls can open to the outdoor terrace. Outdoor conference rooms on the ground level accommodate formal and informal meetings.

    A single barn in southern Missouri provided nearly all of the 20,000 linear feet of reclaimed wood inside the building. The team was careful to preserve the wood in its natural state. It was wire brushed to remove animal residue before being sealed to protect the material, which included burn marks, rust, screw holes and saw marks. Based on the designer’s desire to maintain its authenticity, the wood was kiln dried twice to remove insects

    ContractorJE Dunn Construction
    Photography: Michael Robinson