F&C Top Projects: Lifeworks Main Office
Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023
Lifeworks Main Office was selected as one of Finance & Commerce’s Top Projects of 2022, recognizing Minnesota’s top design and construction projects for the year.
An independent panel of judges selected 50 honorees for the annual program. Projects are judged for their degree of difficulty, creativity in design, innovative construction techniques, cooperation among contractors and management, and sustainability efforts.
Lifeworks Main Office
Location: 6636 Cedar Ave S #250, Richfield, MN 55423
Lifeworks Services, Inc., is a nonprofit that partners with people with disabilities across Minnesota. Together, Lifeworks and people with disabilities drive change by increasing opportunity and access in the community. Facing changing workstyles, Lifeworks sought space for a new main office that reduces their administrative footprint by half. The design intent was an inclusive environment that serves as a model for the community. Accessibility and equity were at the forefront, and Lifeworks’ value of removing obstacles and striving for continual improvement creates a hybrid workplace that supports each individual.
Pre-pandemic, Lifeworks main office functions operated out of one location where employees worked physically in the office. During the pandemic, the organization transitioned completely to remote work while still supporting clients in-person, in the community and remotely. This project was Lifeworks’ opportunity to support its evolved culture and work model by creating a flexible, accessible destination for employees, clients, and the community.
After the years of uncertainty and change to work-life balance, returning to a physical office was overwhelming for some employees. To make this process more supportive of individual needs and preferences, Lifeworks invested time to engage employees during project planning. Surveys and visual listening exercises helped prioritize key design features and characteristics of the new location. Some elements that were incorporated include:
- Increased daylight and views to the outdoors
- More supportive and accessible technology integration
- Increased collaboration and casual spaces
- Flexible access hours
- Equitable space and solutions for in-office and remote collaborations
- Private rooms for phone or virtual calls
Lifeworks desired that this new environment be consistent with their values: You Lead the Way —We Listen, Together We Break down Barriers, We Focus on Impact, and We Reinvent What’s Possible. The new office fulfills this goal. Design for people with disabilities or challenges is usually done as a reaction to an accommodation. Lifeworks has created a space that is proactively welcoming and accessible to anyone, taking into consideration mobility, workstyle, sensory needs, body type, religion, parenthood, transportation access, and more.
This office is an educational opportunity because it showcases how intentional and thoughtful approaches, like lowered cabinets, rounded edges, automatic door openers, subdued colors and lighting, can all work together to create a universally welcoming space. Lifeworks’ new office is a model for the community on how to marry modern office design with truly accessible and inclusive spaces.
- Owner: Lifeworks
- Project Manager: JL Commercial Services
- Broker: Carlson Partners
- Building Owner: Malinski Family Partnership
- Contractor: St. Paul Construction Company
- Architect & Interior Designer: Pope Design Group
- Electrical Contractor: Hunt Electric
- Mechanical Contractor: Airtech Thermex
- Phone/Communications: The Phone Guys
- Furniture: Innovative Office Solutions
- Photographer: Brandon Stengel – www.farmkidstudios.com
This year’s Top Project will be featured in a special magazine and in a series of stories and photos in the Finance & Commerce daily newspaper and on the F&C website starting in July.