Substance Architecture


Grinnell, Iowa

For over 70 years, Brownells, Inc. has distributed gun parts and accessories out of their Montezuma, Iowa distribution facility. This 3rd generation, family owned company, known as “The World’s Largest Supplier of Firearms Accessories and Gunsmithing Tools”, following continuous growth and increased market demands, found itself land locked and out of space.

The remedy is a new distribution, office, and retail building in nearby Grinnell, Iowa. Located immediately off of Interstate-80, the new facility will provide easier access for both customers and shipping, an enhanced retail experience, and greater accessibility to potential staff.

With a 200,000 SF warehouse building already underway, Substance was hired to design the office and retail experience for the new campus. Taking advantage of a series of views from the interstate and nodding to the direction of their founding location in Montezuma, the building is divided into two abutting, but distinct single sloping roof forms located at the southeast corner of the warehouse building.

The lower of these forms is a two story office space with a shallow north/south floor plate affording access to daylight and views. At 22,000 SF, it provides a combination of open and enclosed offices and meeting spaces to support the various functions of this growing business.

The adjacent, more generous, double height, 6,000 SF retail experience will provide Brownells with space not previously afforded: a dedicated showroom and technical learning center. The high volume space not only provides an identifiable presence from the interstate, it allows for the display of various gaming trophies and significant firearms from the collections of the Brownells family. Clerestory glazing allows daylight into the space without depleting desired display space from the perimeter.

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography


Iowa Architect, Fall 2015

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