Inexpensive changes make big impact

November 8, 2019

TSP

Looking to make a visual impact in your facility but limited in the dollars you can spend? Don’t worry — TSP, Inc. offers architects and interior designers who can make that happen. The result: a goal accomplished without breaking the budget.

It begins with asking the right questions, determining what a client wants, whether it’s catching a visitor’s eye as they drive up to a building or bringing those who walk through the front doors a sense of security.

“Working together is the key,” says senior architect and Rochester office leader Von Petersen, who joined TSP in 2010.

That happened in a recent project at the Rochester City Hall, which remodeled almost every office in the complex with simple security measures that could be accomplished for as little as $40,000.

“We sat down with every single department,” Petersen said. “The input we got from them was how they serve the customer. Some offices need a counter for customer service, one that serves people of all abilities. An office like the city attorney’s needs an atmosphere that is not threatening but reassuring.”

Rochester’s City Hall was built in the early 1990s as an open facility with a three-story rotunda. Nothing prevented a visitor from walking into any office, and officials wanted to increase security without changing the building’s feeling.

“Ultimately we made small moves that didn’t cost a whole lot of money but it makes the staff and visitors more safe while maintaining an openness in government,” Petersen says.

Changing paint colors in an old gymnasium turned early childhood activity space at Kenyon-Wanamingo School District will make it energetic and lively, says Alex Schrader, an architectural graduate with TSP since 2017.

“Colors make a big difference,” she says. “It was a very 1950s yellow-tan color that you see in many schools of that era. We painted the walls with white paint and added acoustical panels for pops of color. We replaced the floor with carpet under the indoor jungle gym and vinyl at the perimeter. The vinyl product allowed us to integrate games like hopscotch and a tricycle track.”

Painting the ceiling and replacing lighting gives the space a fresh look for a good value, Schrader says. The original glass-block windows had been covered up with metal panels. TSP removed the metal panels and glass block and replaced them with energy-efficient frosted glass that floods the room with natural light.

The entry to this renovated Early Childhood Center saw relatively simple changes that modernized the experience for young children and their parents. The exterior canopy was remodeled, old wooden doors have been replaced with aluminum frames, stronger glass allows natural light while providing more safety and better thermal performance, and the ceilings were replaced with sleek faux-wood planks.

When working with a limited budget, it often is best to focus on a narrow area of change, rather than water down the project by trying to do too much with not enough. In a renovation project, the owner might decide to create a new façade using higher-end materials, rather than spreading it throughout the building. That way an immediate impact is created.

That’s the approach TSP architect Greg Schoer recently took on the Worthington Liquor Store, less than three hours west of Rochester on Interstate 90, which last year moved to an existing building on a different site. Worthington city officials had purchased a former Dollar Store building for the municipally owned liquor store. Their goal was a building that would attract more customers and provide a pleasant shopping experience.

“What better way to do that than to create a brand-new façade just in front of the existing former Dollar Store building,” says Schoer, who chose gray block and a warm knotty cedar for the exterior.

He also elected to install large storefront windows that serve multiple purposes. They not only display the product inside to visitors, but the large glass panes also summon memories of the traditional storefront displays that once were common in business districts.  Store officials will be able to change the display area with the different seasons.

“You will need to stop by the store throughout the year to see how it may be decorated,” Schoer says. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Schoer’s goal, he says, was to turn a former Dollar Store into a building that looks like a million bucks, one that makes a positive first impression. Making a visual impact through building renovations ultimately affects an entire community, he says.