JLG Architects is moving from its current location in suite #300 at 124 N. Third St. to a space in The Argyle; a new five-story building being constructed on the corner of Fourth Street and DeMers Avenue in downtown Grand Forks.
The Argyle has been under construction since spring 2020 with JLG and Community Contractors. The building is named after the Argyle Block, which occupied the surrounding area from 1914 to 1997 before it was eventually demolished due to flood damage. The building is mixed-use with street-level space for stores and businesses, second-floor office space and three floors of residential space at the top.
JLG Architects was founded in Grand Forks in 1989, and it moved to its current location above Joe Black’s Bar & Grill on Third Street in 1997. The new location should be completed by Dec. 1, with JLG fully operational in the office space by January.
Michael McLean, principal architect at JLG, said The Argyle allows the company to make advancements in the sustainability of its workspace, including achieving LEED Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status.
“One thing that we had the opportunity to do with this is pursue some different sustainability challenges and criteria,” McLean said. “The new office space will be LEED Platinum for interior design and construction, it will meet the Living Building Challenge, which is basically is a sustainability metric that’s in place where the building proponents over a year is being measured. It’s not just based on assumptions; we’ll actually be measuring the performance of the building to meet the different criteria of that specific item.”
The Living Building Challenge is a program that represents a green building standard. The goal is to create buildings incorporating regenerative designs to improve the environment around them instead of taking from them.
McLean said he loves and appreciates the space JLG currently occupies, but he is also excited about working in the new space because of the sunlight that employees will be exposed to with The Argyle's large windows.
“Really a significant thing for me, anyway, is the amount of natural daylight we’re going to get compared to our existing building,” McLean said. “It’s a historical building, and it’s a beautiful building. The space is great, but the window openings are smaller, and the space is deeper and set up in a way that you don’t always have access to daylight from every single workstation. In the new facility, every single desk is going to have access to daylight, which is incredibly important. Even some of the huddle spaces and meeting spaces will have access to natural daylight.”
The new office space JLG occupies has six huddle rooms, a small room that accommodates meetings of a small number of people. Each of JLG’s huddle rooms hold four people, a larger conference room, open lounge locations for collaborating and multiple other spaces for different work strategies. McLean said the COVID-19 pandemic altered what JLG thought was necessary for its new space to be ergonomic.
“During COVID, we’ve realized, working from home and being back in the office, what that balance now looks like,” McLean said. “We’re actually recognizing some of the challenges that we had and how we can adjust them moving forward, as far as what’s really the best way to engage in the office, how to handle privacy, how to handle acoustics, making sure you have the program to take on huddle rooms, where you can have concentrated team meetings. … Those things all became important.”
The new office space is not just a monument to the growth of JLG, but a testament to the vision of its late co-founder Lonnie Laffen, who died in December 2020.
“Obviously, with Lonnie’s passing, we’re still emotionally trying to process that,” McLean said. “I think it’s going to be pretty hard to leave that space. His desk right now, you kind of walk by and it’s hard to not think about him, but also knowing that this was really his vision to build this new building on DeMers and the opportunities that was going to carry for us moving forward, I think it’s just going to be a really cool thing when we’re able to have an open house and celebrate the building and celebrate Lonnie. He’s the reason why we’re all here.”