Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal | April 2017

Cool Offices: Southview Design turns vacant lot into savvy company headquarters

Haley Madderom – Staff Writer
April 4, 2017 – Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

In a vacant lot near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Southview Design saw opportunity on a 3.7-acre swamp: a neglected site littered with concrete debris.

Since 1978, the company had rented office space in Inver Grove Heights. Then in 2014, it finally took its chances on a land grab and built a company-owned headquarters and, for the first time, included a warehouse.

Southview Design is a landscaping design-build contractor that takes on projects of all types for commercial business and homeowners in the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Retaining walls, walkways, swimming pools, irrigation and drainage systems, outdoor kitchens, lighting, gardens and lawns, and sports courts are just a handful of projects it takes on. The design-build process means that managers coordinate in-house sales, design and construction specialists under the same roof.

Building its own company headquarters wasn’t so seamless.

After a lengthy bidding process, the company then needed to outsource its construction work to address a troublesome soil situation. WSB & Associates was one of the firm's to work on improving soil conditions, which cost about $250,000. Workers also removed concrete rubble on the site, which now houses Southview Design's 9,000-square-foot office space and 8,000-square-foot warehouse.

The company contracted architect Kathy Anderson who used employee feedback to develop a headquarters with an outdoor feel, while seeking to create an efficient and productive work space.

Recognizing that more and more companies are leaning toward open office layouts, Southview Design followed the trend. The office was designed to have more open space, natural lighting and work areas next to collaboration and break spaces, such as the lunch room.

The sound of people talking and moving around facilitates interaction, said Partner and General Manager Ryan Slipka. “I know this probably sounds cliché, but it’s the people who make this office really cool. If someone’s an introverted person, doesn’t talk much, the staff is pretty quick to peel that out of them and help them feel included. It sets the culture right away."