Linking Employees for Greater Interaction, Collaboration and Ideas

Consolidating Cardiac Disease Rhythm Management employees from seven facilities across the Twin Cities, Medtronic’s Mounds View, Minn., office complex helped create efficiencies for the company and encouraged employee and client collaboration. Medtronic chose Opus’ integrated team instead of a traditional design-bid-build approach to ensure a guaranteed maximum price and tight schedule.

Achieving a Vision with an Integrated Team

With a tight schedule and a desire to meet the client’s expectations, the Opus team’s construction project managers and architects met weekly with the team from Julie Snow Architects. Having all parties at the table allowed the ideas to not only flow but to be grounded in reality with the project management team providing quick cost estimates. According to Architecture Minnesota magazine, this close collaboration “yielded one of the best examples in the county of how the budget-focused design-build process can yet incorporate bold and innovative design.”

The 1.2-million-square-foot office complex, spanning three eight-story towers, was built accommodate 4,800 employees. The complex also includes a 4,000-stall parking garage.

One directive from the client was that no work area be more than 60 feet from a window, so the design incorporated the long, narrow towers, referred to as bars, with open space between each building. Because the company provides training and other services directly to physicians, the design also incorporates smart features like more than 200 audio-video capable conference rooms, private hoteling offices and even small niches for the traveling visitors’ luggage.

Creating a Community from Diversity

Catering to the needs of the varied and tech savvy workforce – electrical, mechanical and software engineers; physicists; chemists; statisticians; economists and mathematicians – the complex is also designed with employee conveniences in mind. The first floor showcases interconnected common areas that include childcare and fitness centers, a cafeteria and coffee shop and a state-of-the-art education center for employees and clients.

The three towers are connected by seven-story, glass-walled links. Stretching 30-feet wide, the links provide conference areas and pedestrian walkways, fostering communication and interaction among employees.

“The reaction that I’ve gotten from employees is that the building does exactly what we intended it to – it brings people together,” said Stephen Mahle, then president of Medronic’s Cardiac Rhythm Disease management division, to Architecture Minnesota magazine. “We were there less than a month and people were coming up to me and saying, ‘I’ve seen some of my colleagues more in the last two weeks than I have over the past two years.’”

Environmental Efficiencies Contribute to a Sustainable Complex

Built with sustainable construction practices, the complex incorporates environmentally-friendly features, including:

  • an east-west orientation for the buildings,
  • higher than typical floor-to-ceiling heights and
  • off-perimeter office spacing allowing for greater access to natural light.

This case study contains quotations and other content from “Gliding to the Future: Medtronic builds a campus vibrant with creativity and team work” by Frank Edgerton Martin, which appeared in the July/August 2008 edition of Architecture Minnesota.