Ernesto Ruiz-Garcia: Challenging the Norm for Better Design


​Because of our team's vertical integration, our experts remain involved in projects from inception to completion, including our creative design team. From front-end design to construction, our designers see their projects through to the end. This ensures design intents are served on behalf of the client, and no one understands this better than Ernesto Ruiz-Garcia.

Ernesto, vice president and design director for Opus AE Group, L.L.C., directs all design architecture projects for Opus in Minneapolis and other markets. In addition to being an accomplished designer of 20+ years, he leads our integrated team of designers who create efficient, flexible and sustainable buildings for clients.

Joining Opus

Some of our AE leaders first noticed Ernesto's talent when he worked for Snow Krellick Architects on the 1.2 million-square-foot Medtronic Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management Campus in Mounds View, Minn., which our team built. Toward the tail-end of the project in 2006, our AE leaders convinced Ernesto to join the company. 

After gaining experience for several years as a senior designer in our Tampa and Minneapolis offices, he went to HGA for a brief time before coming back to Opus as a senior manager of design. It wasn't long before he was working on another high profile Opus project, the Marquette University College of Engineering building. From there, Ernesto was given progressively more responsibility and grew into a director of design role, before being promoted to his current position. 

Elevated Design Capabilities

“We develop, design and build many types of projects at Opus," said Dean S. Newins, senior vice president of architecture for Opus AE Group, L.L.C. “From industrial buildings to luxury multifamily projects, design is integral to the success of each and every one. Ernesto constantly strives to bring an even higher level of design excellence to his team, and he's passionate about making sure every project has a distinct and powerful design voice."

At Opus, designers stay focused on design rather than the traditional architectural firm approach that requires designers handle both design and technical construction documentation. “We have a separate, very efficient team for construction documentation, so while our designers remain involved all the way through construction, we can keep them working on the creative side, doing what they do best. It's effective and brings value and creativity to our clients," said Ernesto.

“Our design team's priority is to meet with the client, listen and understand their specific needs, and then shape a building that really represents them," Ernesto continued. “Some of our most rewarding projects have been for clients who had problems we were able to solve, or a strategic need that we were able to address." 

For example, Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, Minn., needed to carve out additional space in their existing buildings. So the design team repurposed an underutilized two-story gymnasium by designing a new chapel on the top level and two multipurpose meeting rooms on the lower level. “The client is ecstatic about our design," said Ernesto. “They had a unique situation we were able to address by thinking creatively to exceed their expectations."

A couple years ago, Schneiderman's Furniture in Lakeville, Minn., rebranded and wanted a new building that would reflect their vision for the future. Visible from I-35, it's hard not to notice the Opus designed-building when driving by. The exterior incorporates local Kasota limestone and expansive glass, and there is a prominent patio facing the freeway for showcasing outdoor furniture. “The client told us that the building reflects the brand exactly as they envisioned it," said Ernesto.

For Ernesto, project success comes down to client satisfaction. “It's most rewarding when you finish a project, see the results, and know you have pleased the client. It's even more exciting when they get an even better design than they anticipated!"

Ernesto is an active member of the American Institute of Architects and a LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction. He holds a bachelor's degree in Environment Design from the University of Puerto Rico (magna cum laude), and a master's degree in Architecture from the University of Minnesota (graduate fellow). For several years he served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Minnesota educating design studio students and teams.

Our associates are talented, dedicated and knowledgeable. They streamline complex projects and always deliver value to clients. Read more profiles of our team.