Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

2017 - 2021

Minneapolis Public Service Building

The design of our first civic building in North America, the Minneapolis Public Service Building, brings local government to street level. Breaking the architectural pattern of inaccessible bureaucratic centers, the building acts as an inviting space that promotes transparency, public access, civic engagement, and employee wellness.

Project details


City of Minneapolis


Civic, Office and HQs


Surrounded by the historic granite buildings that make up Minneapolis’s Government District, our design for the Minneapolis Public Service building offers a contemporary alternative for public architecture. Prioritizing the experience of both employees and the public, the building demonstrates the value of transparency and aims to instill a sense of trust in public institutions. 

In 2023, the building was granted the AIA Architecture Award, which recognizes excellence in design achievement, including a sense of place, purpose, history, and environmental sustainability. 

Developed in close partnership with the City of Minneapolis and public advocates, the building is the latest in a new coalition of civic architecture conceived around the question: how can our public spaces better reflect the communities they serve?

Double height pockets are carved from the building, breaking up its massing and giving each of its frontages a distinctive presence. Corey Gaffer, 2021

“Our approach to the Minneapolis Public Service Building aimed to flip the conventions of civic design. We are thrilled to be recognized for designing a building that is truly for the people.”

Michael Sørensen

Design Director North America, Partner

Once scattered across various buildings in the city, 10 city departments and 1,200 employees are brought together in one building. Corey Gaffer, 2021

Public accessibility

In a building typology that necessitates high security, the design of the Public Service Building feels accessible to the public. While secure office zones are separated from the public area, the lower two levels of the building are glass enclosed, gesturing towards the adjacent plaza and inviting in the public. The building’s location next to bus and light-rail stations ensures easy access from across the city and creates a space that is both convenient and welcoming for the public. Detailed wind analyses, informed the location of the building's main entrance further to south along 4th Avenue, increasing a sense of physical comfort for pedestrians passing by.

With the aim of encouraging a sense of social connectivity and enabling democratic access to the city’s material fabric, the Public Service Building is both physically and visually connected to the surrounding urban infrastructure. The ground level is occupied by retail space, a conference center, public restrooms, and a large feature stair in the entry foyer. A gradient zone between street level and the public-service area at the second floor, this connection plugs the 370,000-ft² building into the Minneapolis’s second sidewalk: its sprawling network of footbridges and skyways.  

Corey Gaffer, 2021

“This is a space where the public meets the city – everything converges here.”

Michael Sørensen

Design Director North America, Partner

Corey Gaffer, 2021
A spacious staircase lined with planters and wooden bench accents contribute to an appealing public space within the building and maintains a visual connection to the street through floor-to-ceiling glazing. Corey Gaffer, 2021

“The building really invites people from the skyway system into a space that is a generous indoor public area,” says Michael Sørensen. “This is a space where the public meets the city – everything converges here.”

By emphasizing the social value of the skyway connection, the Public Service Building has dissolved the separation between street and skyway pedestrians – -connecting both more than ever to the rest of the city .

Corey Gaffer, 2021
The transparency of the Minneapolis Public Service Building offers pedestrians a glimpse into the building and its activities while reminding the civic staff of the people they are committed to serving. Corey Gaffer, 2021


All contacts
Portrait of Michael Sørensen

Michael Sørensen

Design Director, North America, Partner

Portrait of Daniel Baumann

Design Director, Partner


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