MOLINE, Ill. – When former Deere & Co. Chairman William Hewitt envisioned a new administrative center more than a half-century ago, he wanted a building that not only would honor the farm equipment maker’s sturdy Midwestern roots, but set the tone for the global company that Deere would evolve into.
This month, employees at what now is called John Deere World Headquarters, based here, observe the 50th anniversary of the acclaimed architectural gem. Like the company itself, the building has stood the test of time and even some reinventions of space.
While the Cor-Ten steel building’s exterior has changed very little in its five decades, its interior has had to accommodate the shifts in office functions and culture. Mack recalled how the company’s computer once filled the entire ground floor in the East Office building, but today, updated infrastructure must power a computer on every desk. In 1964, the idea of teleconferencing was science fiction lore. But today, Deere employees around the globe meet face-to-face in a Telepresence Room in the West Office building.
Under construction from 1961 to 1964, the headquarters was built to accommodate the company’s growth and unite 900 employees from six separate Deere locations under a single roof. The staff and 250 vanloads of supplies and files moved in on April 17, 1964, but the official grand opening was held June 4-5 of that year.
The current building, which has now been home to generations of Deere employees, was designed so that as many employees as possible would have an outside view from their workspace. To accommodate this, private offices were placed in the center of the building with the general work areas on the building’s perimeter.
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