Customer- and employee-friendly approach taken to design new City Center

June 21, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Interstate Office Products.

The Sioux Falls City Hall dates back to 1935, when it was built as a New Deal-era project during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration.

The new City Center office building opening to the public Monday at 231 N. Dakota Ave. is the first major new city administration building since that time – offering an opportunity to design and furnish a space that fits the modern needs of government and the people it serves.

“The city was really progressive when they initially started talking about City Center as well as remodeling City Hall. They wanted something highly adjustable to attract and retain employees,” said Marcia Young, an interior designer at Interstate Office Products who has worked on their projects for years.

“All the furniture in City Hall in the 1990s came from us, and we’ve done a lot of big projects with them since then.”

The city worked with Interstate Office Products beginning several years ago during a remodeling project at City Hall to design a workstation that could be replicated throughout city offices.

“We put that throughout the departments for conformity, and now it’s working out great because all the workstations on second floor are coming over to the new building,” Young said. “They’re mostly using existing furniture, so it’s just a matter of reconfiguring it for them.”

Interstate began the design work on City Center by providing the city with 3-D imaging of how the space could lay out.

“The 3-D modeling was invaluable,” said Shannon VerHey, assistant city engineer and the city’s engineering lead on the project.

“It helped us communicate what the look of this was going to be to our staff, so we could all visualize it and make adjustments before we moved in.”

The new building’s focal point is a first-floor area for the public. There’s a long counter where citizens can transact most business with the city in the same place – everything from paying parking tickets to buying swim passes and applying for permits or licenses.

The first floor also includes multiple meeting rooms and office space for the city’s planning and building services department.

“In the lobby and some of the public-facing areas with conference rooms, we did some different finishes that are a little newer and match the building finishes,” Young said. “We wanted a very modern look on those perimeter areas facing the lobbies.”

The second floor is additional office space, including the city’s largest department – public works. Each workstation relocated from City Hall includes a height-adjustable desk, storage for files and personal items, and a highly ergonomic chair by Steelcase.

“They really thought about the employees. They wanted them to have quality furniture that would last and has a good warranty,” Young said. “And they’re starting to go paperless, so we really don’t have much for file storage, which is a big change.”

Workstations also have lowered walls and most have access to windows, bringing in more light and so “you can see your neighbor and converse pretty freely, which really opens up those lines of communication and collaboration,” Young said.

As employees move into the new spaces, reaction has been positive, VerHey said.

“They love it. They’re commenting how much natural light there is and how much they like having their teams together instead of dispersed. There’s definitely enhanced collaboration with the more open atmosphere.”

There also is significantly more meeting space, from more informal breakout areas to executive-style conference rooms with videoconferencing capability.

“We were short on meeting space before, and now we have enough to meet our needs,” VerHey said. “And Marcia was very helpful in planning for future growth. We’re haven’t used all our space yet, but we can easily expand our workstation space or add workstations with minimal effort.”

The employee break area – or work cafe – features booth seating, standing-height-adjustable tables, “and we put power in the booths to encourage them to work there and have meetings there and not just have lunch,” Young said.

Another break area includes a sectional sofa for employees to “sit and work and get away from their desk or have an open meeting. Steelcase’s pioneering research found that it’s critical to workers’ well-being to move throughout the day into a range of settings to do their best work, depending on the task being performed,” she continued.

“It’s just so much fun to work with the city on their projects. They’re really forward-thinking. They think about their employees and want the spaces to look nice. They’re using their budget dollars wisely to have a great space.”

Interstate installed the furniture over several weeks and provided the city with a daily schedule for which furniture was moving when, allowing departments to plan their moves precisely.

“They’re very easy to work with, knowledgeable about their industry and have a wonderful installation team and great customer service,” city project manager Debra Gaikowski said. “I heard some of our staff say the other day they can just see the efficiency here already.”

Customer- and employee-friendly approach taken to design new City Center

The new City Center office building opens to the public Monday. We got a look inside — and some ideas for any other organization looking to modernize its office space.

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