Regardless of project type and client, we follow our proven process. Because it works. This three step process enables us to gather all the necessary information, analyze it, and use it to design a space in the perfect location for any team to reach their goals. So, when we started thinking about a new office for our team, it only made sense to start at the beginning.
New Office EvoProcess
EvoProcess is our proprietary method of planning, designing and coordinating projects. It’s a process of research and information gathering that allows us as the architect to provide our industry expertise, while our clients provide their own business and community expertise. In our own office design project, we were in the unique position to provide both.
As an architecture firm, we needed an office that was inspiring, accessible, and collaborative. From a client perspective, we wanted our space to showcase our abilities, while supporting the discussions and design decisions that happen throughout a project. And similarily for our team, we wanted our office space to provide the tools, resources, energy, and creativity needed to do our best work.
With that being said, part of our core belief is that we are more than architects - and that is a primary reason our clients do business with us. We don't exist to design the most beautiful, the biggest, or the most impressive buildings. We exist to design solutions that make a difference - they're efficient, functional, purposeful first. Then we weave in the beautiful, bold, impressive features that tell our clients' stories and highlight their presence in their community. So, in order to provide this level of service, our office requires spaces for deep and honest conversations, design presentations and reviews, team deliberations, physical handling of materials, and so on.
Pairing this information with our knowledge of office architecture and design, we're prepared to have a detailed conversation about our wants-and-needs, and align them with our budget. This is what happens in the InVision phase of every project.
InVisioning A New Office Design & Location
InVision starts with Programming. And this is all about establishing and distinguishing between wants and needs for a project. As alluded to above, we had two primary goals:
- Facilitate Best in Class Client Collaboration, Service & Support
- Attract, Retain, & Delight Talented Team Members
Programming - aka Dreaming, Planning, Documenting
In order to achieve those goals, here were a few of the wants and needs on our list:
- Centrally located in the Twin Cities area, with easy access to local highways
- More and better collaborative, inspirational work spaces that represent an architectural office
- Walkable amenities: shops, restaurants, services
- Easy access to transportation
- Reduced square footage
- Urban vibe
Also included in this list were the essential spaces required for us to do our best work, including the number of offices, work spaces, conference rooms, lobby, café, restrooms, resource library, etc.
Site Selection: Finding the Perfect Location for HTG's New Office
At some point during InVision, for all projects, we talk about location, which leads into the type of project. There is a decision that needs to be made about staying in a current location, or moving to a new one. In tandem, will you build a new building, or renovate an existing one?
For our project, we knew we wanted to be in a new location, because our current one wasn't meeting the wants/needs we defined above. We landed on Hopkins as a destination for our office, because it provided the downtown, urban vibe, without the high rent and transportation issues of a typical downtown Minneapolis location.
Deciding & Designing What's Feasible
Next in the process, part of the Invision phase, is the Feasibility Study. This is where a conceptual design is developed to see how the programmed spaces (defined above) will fit within the context of the proposed site or building. This phase of the process allows you to answer questions about whether it is feasible to do the design you like on your schedule and within your budget, before moving forward with the architectural and engineering drawings phase.
Knowing our ideal location in Hopkins, it quickly became apparent that renovating an existing space was the way to go. We explored new construction as an option, but that wasn't going to fit within the timeline and budget we had defined for this project. So we leased the former boutique baby gift shop on Mainstreet and set to work designing our office to fit this footprint.
Working within the limited square footage available in the building, we needed to be thoughtful in our design ideas. Multi-purpose spaces were going to be essential. For example, the HTG Café functions as a pedestrian focal point from the sidewalk, a team break room, Monday morning huddle space, guest waiting area, and lobby/receptionist desk area.
A Material Library was another priority for our new office. It's a space for our team to collaborate, prep and lay out designs and materials; plus, just generally house our endless resources. But perhaps most excitingly, this library is a great and inspiring location for clients to review their design plans, and pour through materials and finishes. The goal is to enhance the interaction, creativity, and efficiency of our projects, designing a solution that makes a difference.
During feasibility, we also work to think through ALL the details. In our new space, for example, our conference room features beautiful tall windows to maximize natural light. But, it also backs up against an alley where we, and the neighboring businesses store waste bins. So we added an opaque coating to our windows to allow the light to shine through, but also block the view of the more unsightly essentials of business operations.
A&E: The Technical Part
This phase of the project is where the rubber hits the road. All of the details are drawn and the physical, visible progress happens on site. A&E stands for Architecture and Engineering and includes the development of required drawings that contractors will use for bidding, permitting and construction. As we do in all of our projects, we partnered with local and trusted service providers when appropriate (for engineering expertise, such as civil, structural, mechanical/electrical, and so on) for our office renovation.
Another important element of A&E is project management and vendor coordination. When all the project and design details are finalized and client-approved, it's essential that the right teams are selected to do the work, and that the work gets done well and on time. For our project, we selected Greiner Construction as our contractor. We've been on many projects together throughout our years in business, and we've seen first hand their quality of work and how they conduct their business. Greiner's communication, level of care, and attention to detail - both with their team and their respective sub-contractors - was what we wanted on our project.
Additionally, we called on many other trusted vendors we've built relationships with through previous project work to help us execute our office design project:
- Emanualson-Podas: Mechanical & Electrical review, plus power and lighting coordination
- Case Financial: surveillance, security, alarm and access control
- Tierney: audio/visual design for main level conference room
- Valley View Microsystems: IT network, telephone
- Parameters: office furniture
- Arvig: dedicated ethernet fiberoptic internet
It was fun to be both on the client and architectural side of this project, working alongside many past project partners. Because it was our project, we got to help smash some walls, demolish the space, and watch it come to life piece by piece.
It's an exciting new location for us as the next chapter of HTG's story begins. Here's where you can find us:
As of September 2021, our team is moved and settled in to the new office. It's been a great change, providing excitement through general newness, a change of scenery, and fresh perspectives. We are already enjoying it in terms of day-to-day operations, and also welcoming clients in to see us in action and put our resources to use on their own projects.