February 1, 2018

Changing the Skyline: How Shea takes office complexes from drab to attention-grabbing

It’s no secret: Competition between office buildings for tenants is fierce, and ever-expanding city skylines mean that there are more options than ever for companies looking to set up camp. What draws today’s tenants is thoughtful design—attention paid to detail, to amenities, to how office complexes can best serve day-to-day needs, making the workday a little more manageable. Whether in the city or the suburbs, Shea recognizes that people are working differently today, needing more collaborative and non-traditional workspaces—so we understand how to help office developments up their games to attract and retain top tenants.

Fifth Street Towers
Formerly stuck in a haze of 1980s design including red granite feature walls, brass accents, and outdated tenant amenities, Fifth Street Towers is another downtown office complex in need of the Shea touch to make it competitive on the skyscraper scene again. As part of a multimillion-dollar renovation spanning the length of nearly two years, Shea reconcepted and redesigned the first-floor lobby spaces, five second-floor skyways, and created a full third-floor tenant amenity lounge to breathe life back into the two-tower building.
The design is truly one of modernization, beginning on the ground floor. A fresh logo was designed for the building, and now adorns the new wood-paneled and line-lit walls that stretch up to the skyway level and are broken up by high-tech, ever-changing media panels.

Extensive cosmetic work was done in the skyways to give them an overall more modern vibe, including squaring off support columns, infilling a skylight to create a roofdeck (more on that later), refinishing elevator lobbies, creating new seating nooks and third-workspace areas, and, most notably, creating Sphere—the first bar right in the middle of the skyway. Settled beneath a domed skylight, Sphere’s circular central bar is flanked by luxurious booths, but the real star is the floating overbar, suspended from the skylight’s edges.

An elevator ride up to the third floor takes tenants to a sleek new lounge, where they can kick back with a cup of coffee or hold informal meetings. New conference rooms offer more third-workspace areas, and the wellness center features mothers’ rooms and high-tech “nap pods” for those seeking quiet time. A brand-new fitness center keeps the body in shape along with the mind, and when the weather turns warm, Fifth Street Towers tenants have the best view in town—from the roof deck connecting the two towers, where a pergola and firepits provide an ideal outdoor gathering space.

100 Washington
Top-tier office buildings in downtown Minneapolis aren’t hard to come by—so when the team at 100 Washington Square decided it was time to get in the game with a revamp of the 1981-constructed building, Shorenstein Company turned to Shea to reposition the property.
Shea transformed 100 Washington into a place where people want to work—one that’s interactive and energetic, with compelling design and amenities. A modern new logo and signage outside the building means that it’s impossible for 100 Washington to blend with its surrounding complexes, and new space outside makes for a bustling social scene. We created a landscaped area with Bocce ball courts, plenty of patio seating, a full pergola, and a firepit to not only give employees a space to gather, but to add usable space for corporate events.

The outdoor space is a seamless transition from the indoor thanks to the 40-foot-high walls of structural glass that now encase the building, expanding the lobby’s footprint and providing a truly transparent connection to its surroundings (a feat made possible by the building’s core-supported structure, designed by World Trade Center architect Minoru Yamasaki, which gives the building support without interior columns).

Through all that transparent glass, more tenant amenities abound. The lobby was expanded to create space for a cool new coffee shop—key for any modern office—with plenty of seating space, and added seating nooks throughout to give tenants a space to work, gather, or catch a breath between meetings. Heading up the new staircase reveals another valuable connection for tenants: to the Crossings skyway, boasting a fresh new logo and bright statement carpeting to lead 100 Washington to the rest of downtown. The new and carefully considered amenities has already served to draw new tenants to the mostly-empty building, providing future leasing opportunities and making it a true player on the skyline scene.

Normandale Lake Office Park
There’s no shortage of office developments s in the suburbs, so how do you set one apart? Normandale Lake starts out with quite the advantage—most office buildings don’t have killer views of a lake in their backyards. We used that differentiation as the centerpiece for our refresh of the 8400 and 8500 buildings, which brings a little modernity to their strong, traditional look.

We wanted to keep what was best about the Normandale Lake buildings—their rich look and legacy style—while making them unique and even more attractive to current and potential tenants. Softness came to the tailored space by transitioning the original marble floors to become matte, and adding carpet to some of the common areas and updating the water features to create softer ambient noise. We wanted to let the stellar views of Normandale Lake shine, so the huge windows serve as “artwork” in the lobbies. And adding details, such as a bit of pattern throughout the design, brings a graphic quality to the space that adds visual interest without distracting from the amazing natural beauty surrounding the office park.

A renovated skyway with new windows also lets those views take center stage, and provides for a cleaner connectivity between the 8400 and 8500 buildings, allowing tenants to pass easily and enjoy the amenities in either. One of the biggest changes was bringing “third workspace” options to the buildings—places of respite in the lobbies and skyways where building tenants could stop to check e-mail, greet clients, or hold informal meetings. We accomplished this by adding soft seating nooks and library tables in the lobbies, and rich burgundy chairs (a modern spin on the classic wingback shape, a great example of that old-meets-new vibe we were striving for) with laptop tables to the skyways. These areas are frequented by tenants looking to work away from their desks, and are a major factor in setting these buildings apart from other suburban office parks. By keeping so many of the building’s original design elements, the 8400 and 8500 towers got a modern refresh, but still retain their individuality.

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