Project DescriptionPROJECT SUMMARY
Emerson Process Management (EPM) is a global leader in the design and manufacturing of high-tech measurement devices. Emerson products measure and regulate temperature, pressure, and flow rates in liquids, solids, and gas for a variety of industries including: energy, food and beverage, life sciences, and aerospace.
While invention and entrepreneurship has propelled EPM’s success since its formation in 1956, the company’s buildings have been designed to prioritize manufacturing processes. Design engineers and supporting corporate offices have traditionally been co-located with manufacturing programs in facilities designed for production and assembly.
The EPM Eden Prairie Renovation project emerged as a direct response to a growing challenge for the company. Emerson must attract the best engineering talent in the industry to support the complexity of design and material science inherent in its product development. Given contemporary innovations in the workplace planning and design, EPM’s dated office facilities compromise the company’s efforts to attract and retain the best talent.
“Transformation” became the guiding design vision that informed the two major design interventions: the recladding of the exterior envelope and renovation of all non-manufacturing interior programs, Emerson’s goal was to transform its Eden Prairie, Minnesota facility to provide open workplace settings to encourage collaboration within the engineering groups, and to communicate their corporate identity of precision engineering to visitors and the public.
TRANSFORMATION – EXTERIOR ENVELOPE
Design goals for the exterior recladding focused on increased daylight, enhancing energy performance, and communicating Emerson’s brand identity on a highly visible suburban site.
Emerson is a fiscally conservative organization and, while being committed to transforming the Eden Prairie facility, corporate leadership prioritized funding for design proposals that were deeply rooted in pragmatic goals. Respectful of this value-driven goal, the design team sought poetic expression through rigorous structural logic, finely machined repetitive elements, refined detailing, and abundant natural light and view.
Knowing the company’s commitment to daylight, the design team proposed a replacement of the upper level exterior wall. The existing wall was constructed of uninsulated, single wythe, concrete masonry with a layer of exposed aggregate plaster on the exterior face. Two vertical 16” windows were paired about a structural column at 24’ on center. The primarily opaque existing assembly was replaced with thermally broken aluminum curtain wall with 1” thick argon filled insulating glass. The existing building is subdivided into 24’ x 48’ structural bays with 4’ on center steel joist spacing. The existing structural rigor was expressed in the repetitive spacing of curtain mullions at 4’-0” on center articulated by a custom extruded 1-1/2” aluminum fin capping the vertical joints – an expression of the refined machine aesthetic of Emerson products.
The lightly reflective glass mirrors the lake, lawn, and trees along the east, north, and west façade. The new curtain wall volume is surrounded by a silver aluminum trim element that folds up and down to frame building entries and the east facing dining terrace. The upper level glass volume hovers lightly over a dark iron-spot brick base that mediates between glass and ground and negotiates the grade change along the north elevation.
The existing masonry base was constructed of an uninsulated single wythe concrete masonry wall with direct applied buff colored brick. The renovated wall extended the building foundation 8” to add insulation, air space and construction of a true cavity wall of dark brick. A continuous ribbon of glass at the base is set co-planar to the brick to visually fuse with the dark base. Subtle changes in brick coursing add a level of refinement at building entries.
TRANSFORAMTION – CORPORATE WORKPLACE
On the interior, Emerson leadership committed to a dramatic workplace culture change. Long established hierarchies (enclosed private offices along the exterior wall surrounding internal cubicles with full height partitions) were inverted. To support the cultural change, the design team facilitated educational workshops discussing current research into generational and technological changes in the corporate workplace. Embracing workplace mobility, choice of flexible non-traditional work environments, spaces for informal meeting and collaboration, and design as an expression of company brand were all embraced as design goals.
The 120,000 square foot building footprint, ideal for manufacturing, poses challenges for office workplace environments. An internal circulation loop, offset 90’ from the exterior curtain wall, provides an intuitive organizational and way-finding element within the large building footprint. Daylight and view are provided to all workstations and private offices in the outer ring. Areas adjacent to glass curtain wall are dedicated to open office environments with low partitioned workstations and glass dividers. The building core within the circulation loop was dedicated to intermittent use programs such as testing labs, training rooms, and conference rooms. The center of the building, furthest from any source of daylight, houses centralized HVAC equipment
Centered along the upper level east wall, the space formerly described as a cafeteria, has been transformed into a flexible corporate dining and meeting environment. Inviting employees beyond the traditional lunch hour, the dining room offers informal meeting places with integral technology to facilitate small, informal group meetings. Conferencing facilities located west of the dining room access daylight and view through layered interior glass partitions.
At the lower level, a renovated visitor lobby initiates a choreographed customer experience. The Emerson brand is presented both literally (with signage and graphics) and abstractly (using blue tinted glass, glass tile, and dark walnut connecting to the company’s Minnesota origins). The visitor is led by the blue glass wall from the visitor lobby, past product demonstration areas, a corporate board room, to a grand stair backed by a variegated walnut wood surface. The stair is constructed of repetitive white steel fins welded onto steel channel stringers with solid walnut handrails and porcelain tile treads.