First LEED. Now Well. Either way, it’s our job as corporate real estate professionals to always put people first. To understand who is using the workplace and how new users can thrive there. Thrive being the key word and the ultimate outcome.
The common denominator is helping people be their best selves while at work. Happier employees. Healthier. More productive. More creative. More inventive. Or all of the above. There’s no shortage of hard-to-measure benefits like these associated with wellbeing in the workplace. However, easier to measure, accepted and understood data like vacancy, turnover, and retention rates relate directly to any design strategy related to wellbeing.
Case in point: the Baker Center renovation. Located at the heart of downtown Minneapolis, Baker Center is one of the city’s busiest buildings during the rush and lunch hours when over 40,000 people travel through its skyway. Yet the owners had a hard time leasing out space vacated by Wells Fargo. While the location was prime, the building wasn’t.
RSP’s design approach, while never labeled as “wellbeing in the workplace,” was, in essence, exactly that. We reimagined Baker Center’s one million square feet of common spaces with several wellbeing strategies in mind:
- Choice: An entire city block, Baker Center is actually four buildings constructed between the 1920s and mid-1960s. Much of the original art deco design elements remained, including floor plates that featured long corridors and closed offices.. Knowing today’s workers demand variety, we designed options to fit different tasks, ages, group sizes and even moods.
- Mobility: Along with choice, the new and improved Baker Center supports mobility – with Wi-Fi throughout (plus lots of accessible recharging stations) as well as a new central staircase in the main lobby that encourages activity.
- Connections: While the central stair connects two main floors, it also connects the busy skyways with the entry and streetscape. An exterior glass curtain wall gives the building a new modern look while also providing views to outside. A new rooftop deck is a unique amenity that supports casual collisions, events or time outdoors to soak in a little Vitamin D.
- Color: A proven inspirational element, color is used throughout the renovated Baker Center. Honoring the original art déco vibe, our design team custom designed colorful patterns into the building’s new logo and front entry experience wall. Colored patterns are continued on the ceilings and in details. Perhaps the most dramatic and inspiring application is the largest media wall in the Twin Cities. The size of a billboard, the media wall will feature a video created by Spye called “Diversity.” The 30-minute art piece celebrates the myriad of faces found in the Twin Cities.
- Healthy habits: Last but not least, the renovation includes a premium health and fitness center operated by STEELE Fitness. Exclusive to building tenants, the center offers a variety of health and fitness classes all designed to promote and support wellness in the workplace.
Baker Center officially reopens June 15. The building’s leasing team, Transwestern, believes the more hospitality feel and focus on people will “sell” the space.