Goodbye 1980s Private Offices, Hello 100 Percent Open Space

Check out the renovated Twin Cities Public Television headquarters, where they did away with private offices.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. has turned the 25-year-old Twin Cities Public Television headquarters in St. Paul into a vibrant and open office environment, replete with interactive workspaces and a soaring new lobby.

“We reimagined the existing facility, turning it inside out,” said Brian Tempas, a principal at Cuningham Group. “What was once underused and neglected is now grand, open, and permeated with light.”

The most dramatic transformation came after designers decided to move the entry and reception from a small lobby off the third floor skyway to a 5,000 square foot ground floor space. Previously used for storage, the new lobby is surrounded by enormous windows, giving TPT a street presence and creating a venue where the organization can host events.

“The space has a real wow factor,” Tempas said. “One that invites people in for dining, music, lectures, premiers, silent auctions, and festivals, while housing large-screen monitors, and offering views of the production facilities upstairs. [It’s] infused with energy and style.”

We reached out to Cuningham Group designer Eric Lagerquist to find out more.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Who was the building architect?

Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.

Who was the interior architect/designer?

Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.

When was the project completed?

September 11, 2015

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

What is the total square footage?

105,000 square feet

What is the square footage per person?

275 square feet

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

200

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

What is the location’s proximity to public transportation and other amenities?

Light Rail is immediately adjacent to the project, a half block to the station.

Across the street, there’s the Union Depot, a public transportation hub for the local bus, Amtrak, a car share program, and bikes.

What were the construction/hard costs per square foot?

$12.3 million / $118 per square foot

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used? 

The furniture dealer was Intereum and we used some ancillary pieces from Coalesse.

Is there a mobile work or work-from-home policy or are most of the employees there all day, every day?

Flex work is available. Many employees are mobile due to work and production outside of the office, and as television is 24/7, the building operates on a 16 hour day.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

Work stations are 90 percent assigned and 10 percent flex.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the space?

We wanted it to look like a modern media organization. It’s a studio environment, and incorporates artwork from historical and current production, iconic imagery of PBS shows, studio-esque lighting, historic references to the neighborhood, and it has an urban market/loft vibe.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

If the company moved out of a previous space, what was the hardest aspect of change for people?

This was a remodel of an existing facility. The anticipated change to a 100 percent open office landscape was daunting to many staff. Work styles are varied within the organization, with heads-down creatives, phone-focused fundraising, and the monitoring of live broadcasts and recorded programs. Controlling noise and distraction was of great concern. Sound-masking and lower density within the open office and the large number of phone and meeting spaces has resulted in an open office conducive to the diverse work needs of the staff.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Photo by Dana Wheelock.

Please talk about any other notable aspects of the project that make it unique.

Diversity in the staff’s daily work styles and tasks is notable for an organization of this size. Roles include creative, technical, production, fundraising, promotions, and administration, each with unique tasks and needs. Additionally, the collaborative nature of the organization extends well beyond its own staff. Programs and events require meeting and work spaces from the large public street space, to intimate coffee areas and traditional conference rooms, all with easy connection to technology. The organizations primary lobby spans the spectrum of these needs on a daily basis, serving as a casual meeting space for meeting with a donor, a large team space for collaboration with outside partners, and as an event space and screening venue for the latest TPT and PBS programs. All of this, along with the highly branded and technology-integrated environment, makes this place truly unique.

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