Hyundai Motors American Headquarters

Fountain Valley, California

Architect: Gensler

When designing the new campus for Hyundai Motors America Headquarters, AHBE discovered that much of the Korean traditional culture is shaped by notions of harmony and order, and a reverence for Korea’s natural landscape. Korea’s picturesque mountain ranges of pine and evergreen trees, deep valleys, and tranquil waters give rise to its name, “Land of Morning Calm.” This cultural identity is so strongly held by the Hyundai Motors America executives that, when the existing headquarters building on the site was being torn down, they requested the thirty five existing mature pine trees be carefully removed, preserved and incorporated back into the new landscape. 

The landscape design became about a “forest of trees” and is meant to recall the Korean landscape for many of the employees working at this campus.    The preserved trees were one species, Pinus canariensis, and along with additional large Pinus canariensis, they create a dense forest. The same species were introduced along the property’s edges and other areas. Few other tree species were used so that the design intentionally read as the “forest” and be the dominant vertical element in the landscape. The building, primarily white in color, symbolizes the morning mist which rises out of the forest park. The placement and location of the pine trees were so that the building was not blocked from certain vantage points and kept the rest of the landscape horizontal—a meadow—in support of the design’s overarching idea.   

Within the forest, employees find a park with individual areas for their relaxation or other passive uses. Decomposed granite surfaces and benches define these spaces. A garden moment welcomes employees as they transitioned from the parking structure to the headquarters building. This garden displays a variety of plant species, selected from the countries where Hyundai vehicles are sold. Employees can also enjoy a roof terrace, which is located next to the cafeteria, for outdoor dining and other gatherings. The terrace is enclosed by a glass wall and bamboo hedges which block the noise from a nearby freeway and views of a service yard.   The project incorporates a number of sustainable design features. The building design has targeted a LEED Gold certification. The landscape at the formal entrance along Talbert Avenue integrates a stormwater strategy using a series of bioswales and an open green space. Buffalo grass was used instead of traditional lawn grass and a drought tolerant plant palette is present throughout the campus landscape to minimize water consumption.   

The essence of the Korean culture—harmony and order, family and community—are truly reflected in the overall design of this new headquarters campus.