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Bader Rutter’s high-profile move to downtown Milwaukee has been a huge benefit to recruiting employees, while at the same time impressing clients with its new riverfront location.

The advertising and marketing firm is the anchor tenant of a newly renovated, 122,200-square-foot building that melds the historic former Laacke & Joys building with a state-of-the-art glass and steel addition at 1433 N. Water St. along the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee.

The open concept design, flooded with natural light, includes numerous conference rooms, huddle rooms, gazebos and seating areas, many with a river view. Check out the attached slideshow to get a look at the unique office space.

Greg Nickerson, Bader Rutter chairman, said the new office has impressed clients and helped recruit employees.

The ability to walk into our building and immediately feel the energy has been a win,” he said. “We have many out-of-state clients. This new office space puts Milwaukee in a great light, and clients walk away impressed with our city.

The many features helped Bader Rutter win a designation as one of Milwaukee’s Coolest Offices by the Milwaukee Business Journal in its 2018 awards program. Bader Rutter is the first of 10 firms that have earned that designation in the newspaper’s awards program.

The winners will be featured on the Milwaukee Business Journal’s website over the next two weeks and in our April 23 weekly edition.

The Bader Rutter development also recently won a 2018 Milwaukee Business Journal Real Estate Award. You can read about that award by clicking here.

I caught up recently with Nickerson to talk about the office and its unique features.

Q: Talk about the process that was used to determine the look of your office space? “For more than a decade, Bader Rutter served office space clients, such as OM Workspace, OfficeMax’s work furniture division. We helped them be thought leaders and, as a result, had some really good background on the industry. We patiently watched the open office trend emerge and read the critiques of its shortfalls. We approached the move to this space knowing both best practices. We had the luxury of time to digest the open office trend and to how we as an agency work and could use the space.

“We knew our look would be influenced by a couple of things right away: the historic Cream City brick features of part of the building and the river. That meant a real design challenge of layering in and respecting the old while blending in the new construction in a design that capitalized on the view and energy the river provided.”

Q: Has the office space been helpful in recruiting and retaining employees? “Absolutely. Clients, prospective clients and candidates both tell us they love the space. It has been helpful in recruiting when candidates see the workspaces as well as when we advertise that our headquarters is in downtown Milwaukee, close to many amenities and opportunities. The ability to walk into our building and immediately feel the energy has been a win. We have many out-of-state clients. This new office space puts Milwaukee in a great light, and clients walk away impressed with our city.”

Q: Can you explain some of the unique aspects of the space and how it is helpful to employees? “We intentionally built a centralized hub of activity with our café and grand staircase. It greets you as you enter, and a coffee bar, café and river view create an inviting and comfortable space. With tall café tables and soft seating at a fireplace, this area has become a way station for employees to connect between meetings or a place to host meetings.

More building features are the three large overhead doors that open onto the riverwalk. Our common area, the Backyard, offers general seating and meeting space with two of the glass doors, and one of our client conference rooms has the third door. These open-air spaces are employee favorites.

“Another feature of the building is our neighborhood team design. Although it is an open concept office, employees all have their own desk area and desks are arranged in neighborhoods related to the clients served and the type of work those groups do. This has streamlined our workflow, especially as teams speak casually across their space, solving problems in real time.”

Q: Why was the café included and how often it is used for special occasions?

“In our previous space, we had a small array of vending machines stashed away in the basement. In this building’s design, we capitalized on the fact that our business runs on caffeine and a centralized coffee station and kitchen table encourages staff members to bump into each other and gather. We built the café to feature the coffee and elevated the vending machine options to healthier, fresh choices, centralized in the space to bring people together.

“Beyond the food and vending side of the café, the larger, open café and Backyard area are frequently used for events. From our annual football season kickoff tailgate party to Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day and other typical celebrations, we’ve recently begun using the café for all-agency announcements and events. We can accommodate seating in the area, have adjusted our sound capabilities to provide audiovisual for café speakers and have run some successful workshops and announcements there. The space is used for an all-agency event or announcement at least once per month. We also have hosted local community groups, Greater Milwaukee Committee events, an upcoming MMAC after-hours mixer and university groups.”

Q: Being on Milwaukee’s riverwalk, how did you work this community asset into your design?

“We have made the river part of our internal décor. Large floor-to-ceiling windows open up the building to the river, and our teams have access to the riverwalk from both our Backyard area and from our own parking lot. For all our windows — not just those on the riverwalk — we deliberately chose a nontinted glass to keep our building open to the public and to help our employees see themselves as part of the neighborhood.

“Once we arrived at 1433 N. Water St., we invested in a pontoon. We use the boat to reward employees and to entertain clients. We’ve involved the community by hosting local planners, representatives of Milwaukee Riverkeeper and developers on boat rides to help us learn the Milwaukee story as told from the water so, as we entertain clients on the river, we can talk about development and economic growth from that unique vantage point.”

Company information:

• Company: Bader Rutter

• Address: 1433 N. Water St., Suite 100

• CEO/President: Jeff Young

• Number of employees: 275

• Square footage of office: 58,447

• Architect/Designer: PRA

• Number of years in space: One year, as of April 25, 2018

View the entire article as published by Mark Kass – Editor-in-Chief, Milwaukee Business Journal here.