The architects behind the new 11-story Minneapolis public-services building being constructed near City Hall said it is designed to foster connectivity.
Architects this week presented to planning officials new designs for the downtown building, which will take the place of a 10-story parking garage.
"When you look at an office building, you typically see a podium and a tower — which is very disconnected and very commercial," said Mike McElderry, managing director for Henning Larsen Architects' North America operations and project director on the city office building project.
"What we've done is we lifted the building from the street, and we've opened the bottom two levels to be completely transparent, inviting, welcoming."
The 380,000-square-foot structure will replace the ramp that currently stands on 4th Avenue S. and serves visitors to the Hennepin County Government Center, the jail and other nearby offices.
Demolition of the ramp is scheduled to begin in June. The office building is planned to open in fall 2020.
Last month, the City Council's Ways and Means Committee adopted a five-year capital improvement plan and authorized $108 million in bonds to pay for the building.
The office building would consolidate city operations currently spread out in six downtown buildings. About 1,300 workers would relocate there, and there is room for more.
Along with Henning Larsen, which is based in Denmark, the building was also designed by Minneapolis-based MSR Design.
Matthew Kruntorad, a principal at MSR, said the new office will be "a new face for the city."
"It's going to be very welcoming and really be enticing for the public to come in," he said.
The facade of the building is made up of modular, semi-reflective metal panels with glass cutouts. The glass-encased ground floor and second level show open staircases and public space with meeting areas.
A conference center, which could be used for large community events, will be located on the first floor near the lobby.
"It's really the city coming together to create a moment where there is efficiency and connectivity," McElderry said.
Another feature of the building, which will be connected to the skyway, will be the integration of about $2 million in public art.
The upper offices will have internal open staircases and collaboration spaces. On the 10th floor, staff will have access to a common eating space and rooftop terrace.
The building team is pursuing LEED sustainability certification as well as Fitwel certification, which supports healthier workplace environments.
While loss of the ramp will erase hundreds of parking spaces in the downtown core, no parking is planned for the new office building.