The Minneapolis operations center for the Boston-based law firm Fish & Richardson is open for business in the RBC Plaza.

By the end of next week, the downtown center will be humming with 150 employees in administrative and technical jobs consolidated in a central location for the firm that employs 900, 400 of which are attorneys.

The $3.5 million project will house the firm's services for finance and accounting, IT, human resources and patent practice support. More than half of the mostly professional jobs will be new to the Twin Cities marketplace, where the law firm has had a presence since 1994.

Fish & Richardson chose Minneapolis to oversee infrastructure functions of its firm's 13 separate offices in part because of its established record of relatively reasonable business costs. The firm also considered locations in Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia and California.

"The real estate expense was favorable here," said Rick Anderson, chief operating officer. "Many law firms, including those on both coasts, have moved their administrative offices to lower-cost locations. Part of it was culture, too. We were already here, and we knew the market very well."

The new operations center, which was designed by the Minneapolis design firm Nelson, includes 30,000 square feet of mostly open workspace. There are few walls and many windows on a floor that once was home to the Gaviidae Common food court.

The space includes conference rooms but no assigned offices. Desks can be raised for staff who want to work standing. Ten monitors are on treadmills, and several spots in the big room resemble a coffee shop, complete with booths for people who like to work in a Starbucks- or Caribou Coffee-like atmosphere, said Anderson.

"We wanted an open, collaborative environment," Anderson said.

Only a handful of the 150 operations jobs will be filled by employees who transferred from other Fish & Richardson offices, so most of the jobs were filled locally, as will be the same for most future hires, Anderson said.