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From the Ground Up

AIMIA’s corporate rebranding involved an extensive office renovation, featuring a complex but innovative flooring installation.

by Robert Nieminen
After an extensive renovation, AIMIA's new open-concept environment seamlessly blends office and hospitality design and uses an array of flooring products.

To celebrate a brand renaissance that resulted in a new name, culture, and workspace, marketing and loyalty analytics company AIMIA recently set out to find and renovate a flagship office in the Twin Cities. Relocating its corporate headquarters to the historic Butler Square building in downtown Minneapolis gave architecture and interior firm MSR Design the opportunity to help AIMIA redefine its workplace culture.

After an extensive renovation, the resulting open-concept environment seamlessly blends the best elements of both contemporary contract and hospitality design. Traditional cubicles and offices were traded for expansive collaborative workspaces, meeting tables, and lounge-type furniture to provide choice and flexibility for employees. Three different color-coded “neighborhoods” (green, blue, and purple) provide differentiation and facilitate wayfinding throughout the office.

A particularly unique feature of AIMIA’s office transformation is the array of flooring products used, including 24 carpet patterns from InterfaceFLOR. In fact, MSR’s design was so complex that one journeyman was devoted to navigating the pattern, while the others completed the installation. However, thanks to the team at Sonus Interiors, an INSTALL Warranty contractor, the flooring design was executed with precision, creating zoned workspaces that are welcoming to both clients and employees.

interiors+sources recently spoke with Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, FASID, CID, LEED Fellow, interior designer and senior associate at MSR Design, to find out how this intricate flooring installation helped bring the AIMIA project together.

interiors+sources: Can you provide a bit of context for this project in terms of the client’s goals and how the flooring design came together?

Rachelle Schoessler Lynn: AIMIA has a very strong brand. Specifically, we had helped them develop a brand strategy around space. When they moved to Minneapolis, they moved into an old warehouse building right in the heart of downtown. It’s about 50,000 square feet of space. We changed the work station configuration to where it’s much more open—no panels at all. It’s a very open environment, but then we were able to also integrate different types of spaces for them. So they have living rooms, they have focus rooms, they have a quiet library, a beautiful pantry area where people can hang out, they have a game area, plus your traditional conference rooms and meeting areas.

[AIMIA has] very bold colors in their brand. When we worked on their [previous] suburban space, because it was a more traditional suburban office, the first application was solid colors and blocks of color. So we brought that to this new space, but because they were moving into an old warehouse building, we layered on an aspect of texture. We still have bold colors but instead of it being one solid blue, black, or green, it’s actually multiple colors, shades of different kinds of blues or greens that come together to create the brand in the space. That’s where the carpet part comes in.

i+s: What were the challenges you encountered with executing such a complex flooring installation, and how were those addressed?

RSL: When the guys at Sonus talked about doing the carpet installation, it was very complicated. It turned out really beautifully because we used it as wayfinding. This particular building that they moved into has two halves to it: there’s an elevator core, kind of in the middle, but on both sides of the building there’s an atrium. It was a challenge because from every point in the office you can see something far away. So you had to color coordinate things [from a distance] as well. You can see the blue zone, and you can see the green zone, and you can see the purple zone. Everything kind of had to be coordinated from that perspective. It just added another really cool layer to the project.
Then, we used a couple of different materials to create the texture. One of the most successful ways that happened is through the carpet. We wanted to create this feel of really nice area rugs that are not actual rugs. They’re embedded into the carpet and give a sense of the identity of that particular area. We took several InterfaceFLOR tiles and created these patterns.

i+s: What impact did the carpet have on the budget, given how many different products were used?

RSL: We had a pretty tight budget that we were working with, but the carpet did not bust the budget. What I can tell you is we were working with a fabulous building. We have a building that has brick walls, it has exposed wood beams. If you were to compare it to a traditional office tower project, we didn’t spend money on things like exterior walls and getting that kind of look in this particular project.

The dollars are spread out differently than some other traditional projects.

i+s: How has the project been received?

RSL: It’s been a fantastic move for AIMIA. The employees are very happy. The desire to have more employee engagement has really happened here. People love working there. Everybody’s excited about being downtown now instead of being out in the suburbs, which has been a really great opportunity for AIMIA as well. All things that people worry about when you do projects like this have turned out to be quite positive, and the owners are very happy with the outcome—it’s been great.

Photography by Brandon Stengel of Farm Kid Studios, courtesy of MSR Design