Written by: Mary Kaeding, Kraus-Anderson Companies
This article was written in January 2018 for the Quarter 1 newsletter.
When Kraus-Anderson cut the ribbon on its new corporate headquarters building at 501 South Eighth Street on November 1, 2017, the milestone was both a celebration of a modern, leading-edge office building; and a sentimental case of deja vu, returning to the block that Kraus-Anderson has owned and occupied for decades.
"I began my Kraus-Anderson career in the first 501 South Eighth Street building," said Kraus-Anderson Vice Chairman Dan Engelsma, whose father, Lloyd Engelsma build Kraus-Anderson's first office headquarters on this block in 1944. "This is truly a homecoming."
At five stories and 100,000 square feet, the new KA corporate office is built to accommodate 300 employees and consolidate most of KA's metro-area operations under one roof. Kraus-Anderson Development, Kraus-Anderson Realty, Kraus-Anderson Construction, Kraus-Anderson Mortgage and Kraus-Anderson Companies, Inc. are all housed here; and in addition, the facility is a home away from home for KA's regional construction offices in Duluth, Bemidji and Rochester, MN; Bismarck, ND, and McFarland, WI; and for Kraus-Anderson Insurance, which remains at its longtime Burnsville, MN location.
The impetus for a new corporate facility was driven by multiple factors. The existing two-story office, built in the 1970s, was dated and bursting at the seams. Second, over the years, KA's structure has evolved towards a strategy of collaboration and consolidation of functions.
The establishment and growth of KA Development was another driver. As KA's capabilities moved increasingly towards a seamless integration of Realty and Construction expertise, it simply made more sense for each of these entities to be under the same roof. The questions was, where?
Kraus-Anderson looked at a number of location scenarios over a period of several years before deciding on building a replacement office on the KA Block site. As a property owner and developer, KA examined the feasibility of moving into one of its existing suburban office properties, or building new on a suburban pad site. In the end, downtown was the destination of choice, said Michael Hille, Executive Vice President, Kraus-Anderson Realty and Kraus-Anderson Development.
"Our most valuable asset is our people, and when we mapped out where everyone is coming from to go to work, downtown Minneapolis was the epicenter," said Hille.
The choice of the KA Block also offered a dynamic, competitive location strategic to talent acquisition, with the newly completed US Bank Stadium fueling the rejuvenation of what is now known as East Town with offices, housing, parks, restaurants and nightlife.
Once KA affirmed its commitment to staying on the block, it wasn't a slam dunk deal. in 2014, the City and the neighborhood pushed back firmly on KA's initial proposal for a new office building, urging KA to do more with the site.
"The City wanted development density," said Hille. "And the neighborhood wanted amenities that would complement and live up to the potential of the East Town district. Their direction resulted in a development that has far surpassed our original vision."
The KA Block
In 2015, KA came back with a master plan for a full-block development proposal, including KA corporate offices; a 17-story upscale HQ apartment building; 8-story Elliot Park Hotel by Marriott, and a 4-story brewery, taproom and co-working offices operated by impact entrepreneur Finnegans. Combining pragmatism with bold innovation and community spirit, this new vision for the KA Block provides the exciting, elevating dynamic for the times. Ground was broken on the site on April 28, 2016 and the KA offices attained occupancy in October 2017.
Designed by Pope Architects, the new Kraus-Anderson office is built to attain LEED certification, with sustainable features including high energy efficiency mechanical and electrical systems; automated systems; LED lighting and abundant daylighting in an open office environment built for collaboration. Abundant amenities including a training center, numerous conference, meeting and phone rooms; coffee bars, a fitness room, lunchroom, hospitality/bar area; patio deck and a variety of comfortable drop-in seating provide opportunities for collaboration as well as solo productivity. Two levels of underground parking will be shared by KA employees and other users of the KA Block.
As the remainder of the block is completed in 2018 -- Finnegans House with its center-block courtyard; HQ Apartments with its bicycle-friendly Portland Avenue corridor and Elliot Park Hotel with Tavola Restaurant -- each will serve as additional amenities for employees and visitors to the KA Block.
As owner and landlord as well as employer and tenant, Kraus-Anderson has thoughtfully weighed value every step of the way. Construction leveraged lean principals from its choice of corrugated steel shoring underground; to the extra-wide catwalk between its rooftop twin air-handling units for ease of maintenance. With its free-flowing open format, the building is designed for flexibility and ease of use. Its automated systems provide an abundance of use data that will help the owners leverage assets such as parking on weekends and evenings.
In addition, KA employees' values are on display throughout the building, with numerous features shaped by employee committees focused on interest areas including wellness, sustainability, nutrition, workstation ergonomics, and more. The lunchroom features a flavored sparking water Bevi machine in lieu of sodas. Workstation desks can be adjusted to standing height at the press of a button. And, in the Founder's conference room, visitors can use a walnut table and credenza repurposed from Lloyd Engelsma's own desk from the first 501 South Eight Street.