The Minneapolis team of the Gensler design firm has been responsible for many of the Twin Cities' most modern offices, from the hip homes for ad shops like Fallon to the swank suites for clients such as law firm Bassford Remele.
But Gensler's own cramped downtown offices, which consisted of mostly one room with views of an alley, left much to be desired.
That will change in a few weeks when Gensler almost doubles its space with a move from its office in the Young-Quinlan Building to an almost 7,900-square-foot home on the top office floor of the Baker Center a couple blocks away.
The firm's move coincides with its plan to double its staff of 30 employees in the next five years. The office will also be a lab of sorts demonstrating the best of office design that Gensler has researched.
"We wanted to be in the central business direct," said Bill Baxley, managing director of the Minneapolis office of Gensler. "So many of our clients are here. We have been looking for a unique floor plate. … The bones of this building are beautiful."
During a tour of the still-under-construction 12th-floor space, Baxley admired the terrazzo floors, 16-foot ceilings, raw concrete columns and operable windows, a rarity in downtown skyscrapers. "It looks like a true penthouse," he said.
Gensler has had a Minneapolis office since 2007. The firm currently has 48 offices around the world and generated revenue of $1.23 billion in fiscal-year 2018.
One of the biggest developments for Gensler's Minneapolis staff is its work on the Dayton's project, the renovation of the former department store just down the street from its current offices.
The design idea behind Gensler's new office is to be crisp and flexible. About half the office will be "agile" without assigned seating for employees. Renderings show movable project boards and tables that can change depending on the activity.
A design lab space will provide a library of research and materials for designers. There will also be a station to allow for immersive virtual reality. Gensler's space also has planned community space that can be used by outside guests. The firm is forgoing a front desk to be more accessible to the outside public.
"We want people to understand what we do here and why we do it and to play with us," said Shannon Crenshaw, Gensler's design leader for the project.
Along with the 12th floor, Gensler also has rights to the 11th floor for possible expansion.
Much of Gensler's own office design reflects its research, such as the importance of multiuse space, areas for workers to socialize and employees' ability to choose how they work.
"The open office isn't dead," said Cassandra Griep, a Gensler associate and expert on workplace trends. She added that open offices should be balanced with spaces for people to get away — such as what Gensler is planning with its huddle rooms.
Gensler employees will move by the beginning of May with a grand opening planned for mid-July.
Baker Center, which underwent a large renovation in 2017, is 75 percent leased with pending deals to get it to 85 percent this year, said Reed Christianson, a principal with Transwestern, who is part of the team responsible for leading the complex.