Director of interior architecture and design, associate vice president, HGA Architects and Engineers
Debra Barnes' specialty is office space design trends. She has spent the last six years at Minneapolis-based HGA Architects and Engineers primarily focusing on corporate and workplace projects. She recently designed offices for AgriBank, RGA Reinsurance and Eide Bailly. She was also principal and project manager for HGA's recent relocation to the historic Ford Center in Minneapolis, for which she was awarded a "CREWie Award" by Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Women.
Bloomington-based United Properties, which acquired the 100-year-old Ford Center and undertook a major renovation, hired HGA to lead the project. HGA also became the building's anchor tenant leasing four floors. The building originally served as an assembly plant and showroom for the Ford Motor Co. The rehab included replacing or restoring all of the windows and building a new lobby.
QWhy did HGA choose to relocate to the Ford Center?
AWe were engaged as the architect prior to the decision to relocate .... Our lease was coming up and we were out in the market looking at options. The Ford Center was a great option. We came from a historic building, so that was of very high interest to have another building that was historically significant. Also, we were spread out on seven floors, and here we're able to get most of our architects and engineers on two floors. That was a selling point.
QTell me about your space.
AThe first floor, which is our main lobby and gallery, is the historic Model T showroom. It has 19-foot ceilings and decorative columns that we refurbished .... We also retained the historic elevator shaft where we built a staircase throughout our space.
QIs today's office design still more collaborative and less about private offices?
AYes. It's a lot less hierarchal. We don't have senior executives in the corner offices anymore. It's more open floor plans.
QGive me an example of a recent design trend.
ACreating breakrooms that feel like coffee shops with lounge seating. We infuse them with technology so people can bring laptops and mobile phones and have meetings or go there for some down time. We also have 'phone rooms,' if people want privacy. At HGA's new space, we have 320 people and only one private office, so we walk the walk.