Target Recreation Center

Paul Crosby

It might raise some suspicions to hear a mega-chain like Target requesting a “non-corporate” space for a new recreational center at its headquarters. But according to Minneapolis-based architect Julie Snow, who the company hired to work with its own design team, Target’s Plaza Commons—housed in an existing two-story building at Nicollet Mall and South 10th Street—is the result of intense collaboration and zero big box bureaucracy. Snow said Target’s CEO “insisted on the sit test” for every piece of furniture. But before the design team got to work on the downtown Minneapolis building, the space spoke for itself.


“We were awed,” Snow said. “It was like walking into some historic ruin.” The interior design philosophy was between preservation and reinvention. Snow said the goal was to retain the raw character of the existing space, which was originally designed as a shoe store and formerly housed local institution Let It Be Records. The interior’s enormous concrete columns are robust enough to support a building four times as tall.

Wherever there were floor gaps, the designers covered them with steel plates, “We could have filled them with concrete,” Snow said, “but we wanted that patchwork to be evident.” The terrazzo floor is among the few material elements that appear finished. That’s not to say the rugged space is entirely roughhewn. The liberal use of Hickory wood in the second-floor loft space brings a level of warmth and comfort to the 22-foot-high central area. The mezzanine is geared for physical relaxation, Snow said, playing host to table sports and video games.


As an alternative work area and lounge, the space needed to be welcoming. To that end the design team opened a back wall onto an urban courtyard that features a basketball court and fire pit. An operable hangar door shuts the opening during colder months, but natural light meets most of the building’s needs year-round.

The red elevator frame bespeaks the building’s corporate brand, but the furniture throughout is eclectic. Dutch design firm Droog provided a horse-shaped floor lamp, along with a black plastic table lamp shaped like a pig. Large MOOI light fixtures bring a touch of sleek modernism to that industrial feel, rounding out a commons whose charm is in the singular touch of its interior design and the building’s concrete bones.

The architect of record, Ryan A+E, Inc. provided design-build services, with additional structural engineering from Ericksen Roed & Associates.

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