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Cool Offices: BKBM Engineers grows into lighter, brighter, bigger space

When BKBM Engineers was building out its Brooklyn Center office in the Earle Brown Tower, the firm's priorities were to create more room for its employees, to design a space that symbolized the structural engineering firm's character, and to keep the project cost reasonable.

BKBM moved into its new 16,955-square-foot space in October. It had previously operated out of a 10,000-square-foot headquarters in Brooklyn Center.

The new office has glass walls throughout to transfer light from room to room. It also includes glass garage doors to its training room. With so much glass throughout the space, someone can stand on one end of the office and see a view from the opposite side's windows.

"They wanted a new, fresh, contemporary office space — something that looked good but … would not break the bank," said Jeff Gears, who designed the space in collaboration with Clever Architecture. He's now a project architect at bdh + young.

Also, with the ceiling only eight-feet high, he decided to expose it in some places to create more space and volume. He left certain areas of the office without carpeting and kept columns down the center of corridors to emphasize the space's structure.

"Most offices hide those," Gears said. Instead, he did the opposite. One six-foot-wide hallway has a column that forces employees to walk around it.

To allow visitors to experience the whole space, a conference room is located on the opposite side of the entrance, and it features views of downtown Minneapolis.

The Earle Brown Tower also offers building tenants access to renovated common areas on the eighth floor — right above BKBM — that include men's and women's locker rooms, a new conference center, a new fitness room, and an existing racquetball court.

"Our goal is to provide exceptional service to clients [and this space] helps us work better in a more collaborative work environment … to meet our clients needs," said Principal Katie Russell.


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