Minneapolis’ historic Baker Center – a four building, 1,061,752-square-foot office and retail property located in the heart of the Minneapolis Central Business District – will be undergoing major renovations soon. After more than a year of planning, the property will receive improvements to the exterior; street and skyway-level common areas; and private office spaces. Construction will begin next month with a projected completion date of Jan. 1, 2017.

Baker Center is managed and leased by Transwestern, which, in conjunction with RSP Architects and construction management firm Hightower Initiatives, awarded the renovation project to a collaboration between JE Dunn Construction and Gardner Builders.

“The task was to create a progressive office environment that employers could use to attract and retain top talent in today’s competitive workforce,” said Reed Christianson, a principal at Transwestern and member of the Baker Center leasing team. With anticipated availability of nearly 450,000 square feet of office space, these improvements will catapult Baker Center to the forefront of organizational change.

Owned by The Travelers Companies Inc., Baker Center encompasses the city block directly east of the IDS Center and was built in phases between 1926 and 1965. As a center point of downtown Minneapolis, the project has excellent connections to four sides of the city’s vast skyway system.

“The goal of the design was to honor the historic aspects of the buildings while creating unique modern spaces to support today’s mobile worker,” said David Serrano, AIA, a principal with RSP. “The result is a ‘new art deco’ style that takes advantage of the art deco bones of the building while introducing forward-thinking amenities like the concierge desk and rooftop deck.”

Renovation work will focus on the corner of Marquette Avenue and S. 8th St. and will feature a 12-story glass curtain wall component. The design includes a new street-level entrance with a two-story atrium, skyway lobby extension and state-of-the-art media wall. The project also includes replacing the retail storefronts on Marquette and interior upgrades on the first and second floors that add an open seating area and concierge desk.

Skyway level upgrades include new tile flooring, free Wi-Fi, new lighting and lighting features. The new Baker Center amenity floor, located on the top level, will include a full-service fitness center, conference facility and panoramic rooftop deck. Tenant spaces will foster increased productivity by including collaborative layouts with exposed ceilings and state-of-the-art lighting.

“We really wanted to do something that would work for everyone, from ownership to end user,” said Hans Okerstrom, general manager of Baker Center and director of property management for Transwestern. “The result is something we are all very proud of and excited to share with the market.”

“Baker Center is at the center of downtown,” said Chuck Howard, Transwestern’s executive vice president who has served as lead leasing agent at the property for more than 30 years. “We see all this new development happening in Downtown East and the North Loop, but we’re bringing the excitement to the core.”

Transwestern’s Erin Wendorf and Will McDonald also serve on the Baker Center leasing team.