Beginning in 1985 as a student intern to now, as president of MSR, I have a unique and lengthy perspective on the firm’s history and the spaces we’ve occupied. Tom Meyers’ retrospective portrays where we’ve been. I am excited about where we’re going.
MSR has evolved dramatically in the last decade. Once led solely by its three founders, the firm is now led by a new generation of leaders who are eager to simultaneously ensure that the firm stays true to the essence of who we are and adapts to the profession’s ever-increasing demands. We must continually evolve in order to thrive and meet our strategic goal of being the leading design firm that achieves inspiring, generative impacts across the board on every project by 2026. Accordingly, we have designed our new space to inspire that evolution.
We arrived at the decision to leave our current space within the Mill City Museum complex only after an extensive search for a new space. Casting a wide net, considering nearly 100 locations and visiting dozens, we focused on urbanized areas of Minneapolis in search of a flexible, work environment that would support our goals for continuous improvement. Key factors that weighed into our decision include the innate ability of the space to serve our needs, sustainable characteristics of the space, neighborhood and neighbors, amenities, access to transportation, safety, and the very subjective question: Does it feel right for MSR? Our search ultimately led us to 510 Marquette Avenue South in downtown Minneapolis.
Constructed in 1925, 510 Marquette served as the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank until 1974 when it was expanded vertically and adapted into office space. The second floor of the building will become MSR Design’s fourth home this November. This large open space will give us room to expand and continue to explore new ways of working. Flexible spaces supporting all types of collaboration, focused work and design discovery, virtual reality labs, and 3D printers have replaced the traditional architectural studio characterized by rows of drafting tables. Our new space overlooks the Nicollet Mall Light Rail Station and a very vibrant neighborhood.
As to be expected during the process of an architecture firm designing its own space, opinions abounded with endless possibilities and high internal interest. To manage the process, we set up separate groups, including a client team, design team, move management team, and technology team.
The design gathers people around the perimeter near large windows overlooking the street. Abundant flexible support and working spaces on the interior, located close to the workstations, will allow staff to work efficiently and effectively. And the space will be beautiful. The design builds on what exists in the space: irregular and interesting traces of past travertine floors; old brick walls and piers at the exterior juxtaposed with the clean lines of the exterior curtain wall. Exposing the existing structure and elements housed in the ceiling, the design layers new onto the old and blends the two into a beautiful balance that reflects the rough and smooth realities of a dynamic studio.
We have designed the new space to achieve Living Building Challenge (LBC) petal certification for the materials, beauty, and equity petals. The LBC certification program is the most rigorous program designed to ensure that buildings give back to the environment and society. The project is on track to become the first LBC petal certified space in Minnesota. This ambitious pursuit exemplifies our commitment to realizing our strategic goal to push the boundaries of design and performance and to demonstrate that buildings and architectural spaces can give back. And our new space will give back.
So, I’m finding it hard to wait three more months to move into MSR Design’s fourth home. But I’m absolutely certain it will be well worth the wait.