This 6-story headquarters was undertaken on the heels of urban renewal. It was constructed in conjunction with the rejuvenation of a small city park across the street, which serves as the building’s forecourt and is integral to its design. The headquarters and park, conceived as one, form the northern edge of Pack Square in Asheville’s historic city center.
The horizontal building is notable for its extraordinarily flush walls: ribbons of butt-joined windows and fine board-formed architectural concrete meet in the same flat plane, achieved with precision detailing and technical rigor in a way that had never been done before. The reflective glass mirrors neighboring buildings and the open sky so that Akzona becomes one with its surroundings, seeming to dematerialize into a pattern of floating stripes.
Pei envisioned the building as a catalyst for revitalization, but just a year after its completion in 1981, Akzona experienced a downturn, laid off 600 employees, and sold the building. It remained empty for four years before being bought in 1986, renamed Biltmore, and occupied by the corporate offices of the company that operates the historic Biltmore estate nearby.
Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Partner; Charles Young, Design Architect
I.M. Pei & Partners