In designing Ciudad Grupo Santander, Kevin Roche wished to create a beautiful campus of exceptional office buildings where parking would be easily accessible and convenient to the offices, where office floors would be large enough to permit ideal arrangement of departments, where it would be possible to create a sense of working family, where there would be unobstructed outward views in all directions of beautiful gardens and landscaped courtyards, where there would be a variety of places to meet and interact, and where the whole experience of working in this environment would be stimulating, life enhancing, and productive. In short - a place for people.
The office space is divided into eight office buildings (161,650 s.f. each) plus a five-story executive building. The master plan includes a training/wellness center, hotel, educational center with a 2,000- seat auditorium, sports facilities, day care center for 300 children, art museum, and an 18-hole golf course with clubhouse and driving range. Underground parking with large natural light wells for 6,000 cars is provided under the full complex's footprint for quick direct access up into the individual buildings. The tradition for urban space in Spain is one of closely spaced buildings juxtaposed with intimate landscaped courtyards. On this site, which is so open to the physical elements, it was appropriate to create a master plan that follows this tradition of balancing building form with corresponding outdoor open spaces. Following tradition, the central space is a great plaza - the heart of the campus. The plaza, as one would expect in a town, is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafes, a welcome alternative to the mundane institutional cafeteria.
Meeting modern international standards, the workplace has excellent light, state-of-the-art temperature and humidity control, and is a very quiet environment. The buildings are designed so that on any floor the maximum distance from daylight is between 5 and 12 meters (16.5 and 39 feet). There are ample views of the surrounding countryside and the landscaped courtyards. To address the problem of sun penetration, the upper floors are cantilevered out to extend beyond the curtain-wall below, creating awnings for protection from east-west sun.
Environmental sensitivity and sustainability were major factors in the design of the campus. The green roof is one of the world's largest, encompassing an area exceeding 1,000,000 s.f. (100,000 s.m. ). A grey water collection system provides irrigation both for the landscaped gardens as well as the golf course, and there is a system of waste management and recycling for the entire complex. Energy is conserved through the use of low-E insulating glass, interior blinds for low-level sun penetration, exterior awnings, high-efficiency electric motors, low-water consumption plumbing fixtures, and high-efficiency/low-wattage light fixtures.