Courtesy of Brandon Stengel
The new Acre office and showroom entrance features a curved glass product showcase framed by subtle colors to make the pieces the focal point.

Gensler Designs a Collaborative Office and Showroom for Acre

Aug. 1, 2023
The new Acre space transforms the office into a canvas of possibilities while also offering inspiration to clients about how to enrich an organization.
Furniture remains the focal point in Acre’s new roughly 10,000-sq.-ft. space on Utica Ave. S, in St. Louis Park, Minn. Brooke Smalley, an interior designer for Gensler and designer on the Acre project, says Acre’s relocation is to a more active area of town. After 60 years, Acre (formerly General Office Products), was ready for reinvention and rebranded as Acre in July 2022.

As a full-service workplace environment provider, Acre sought a space to demonstrate rotating products and vignettes, engaging all clients. Gensler began the planning process in early 2022, with design and construction finishing out the year ahead of opening in January 2023.

“It has to work as a showroom, but they also office out of it. So, it needed to fit their whole headcount and the product that they display,” Smalley said. “Our goals were to create a welcoming, energetic, and inspiring showroom–with that showroom, flexibility was a huge factor, and spaces needed to be used for a variety of functions.”

To achieve that flexibility, the hospitality lounge is furnished with all movable items that can be rearranged to flow with the space’s needs. The architectural design remained simple and natural, with exposed concrete floors, walls and ceilings. The architecture is juxtaposed with residential-style furnishings. A curved glass display showcases Acre’s latest products in the entry and welcomes guests into the hospitality center. The resource area is prominently placed up front to showcase the creative process. Meeting, focus and office spaces wrap the perimeter, functionally demonstrating the varying wall systems and unique furniture applications while also taking advantage of natural daylight.

“We were lucky that the suite they chose is an L-shape, so they have windows on two sides and the floor plan isn’t overly deep,” Smalley said. “We prioritized spaces that would be used the most to be next to the windows: hospitality, lounge, library, workstations.”
The interior of the floor plan features offices and meeting rooms that still reap the benefits of natural light as the exterior rooms feature glass walls. LED lights illuminate the area with daylight and occupancy sensors were installed to reduce energy usage. Energy-efficient appliances were installed in the hospitality lounge and staff-focused pantry. Acre’s workspace also features a wellness mother’s room, decorated with ombre acoustic panels to make the space cozy and quiet. The corridor of meeting and office rooms each has a unique Steelcase wall system, creating various spaces for Acre’s team to work, but also for clients to envision for their businesses.

The Gensler team used a reduced palette throughout the showroom to highlight Acre’s roving product selection. Accent pieces like the Turf acoustic panels provide pops of color related to Acre’s new branding colors. Plywood was also used in the entryway and hospitality space to offer warmth. Wood tones are also visible in the furniture throughout the space.

“Most of the space is gray, white, or the exposed concrete, and then there is plywood featured in the hospitality lounge that is stained green to tie back to the branding color,” she said. “Some (plywood) we whitewashed for the nook.”

Hybrid technologies (televisions, video cameras and speakers) are integrated into the team spaces, allowing for collaboration between in-person and remote workers.

“All of the products used for acoustics and decorative lighting are things that they can sell,” she said. “We integrated brand colors into those elements as well since they were part of Acre's product offerings. So, beyond the custom millwork and flooring, everything in there they can sell.”

The subtle color palette that reinforces Acre’s brand frames the various products on display throughout the workspace and showroom. From wallcoverings to lighting and furniture, the new Acre space transforms the office into a canvas of possibilities while also offering inspiration to clients on how to enrich an organization’s office culture.

About the Author

Lauren Brant | Editor at BUILDINGS

Lauren Brant is the editor of BUILDINGS. Prior to joining Endeavor Business Media, she served as deputy news editor at a daily and editor of a weekly newspaper. She is an award-winning editor and writer.

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