RIO Establishes Headquarters in McNamara

McNamara building

The global pandemic gave rise to remote and hybrid work options that created opportunities for employers throughout the world to optimize existing space and restructure work environments for their employees. At the University of Minnesota, the Research and Innovation Office led an effort—Toward a New Normal (TANN)—to develop post-pandemic flexible/hybrid work arrangements for its employees that offered effective flexibility, connectedness, and sustainability-focused use of space. A central recommendation that grew out of TANN was for RIO to consolidate its office space, embrace shared workspaces, and bring the majority of its staff into one location. Another major factor considered was space-use optimization that results in economical efficiency for the University.

Before the pandemic, RIO's administrative headquarters (including the VPR's office, finance, human resources, communications, and research advancement) were housed in Johnston Hall on Northrop Mall. Other RIO units had offices at other locations on the Twin Cities campus, including Moos Tower and the Learning and Environmental Sciences Building (St. Paul), among others. Several units, including Technology Commercialization, the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) and Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) were already housed in the McNamara Alumni Center. Many employees continued to work fully or partially remotely after the pandemic, shifting space needs more permanently. While RIO’s growing Research Computing group will eventually take over RIO’s fourth floor Johnston Hall space,  University President-Designate Rebecca Cunningham and her staff are tentatively slated to occupy that space while updates are made to their Morrill Hall office this summer and fall.

After several years of planning and close coordination with a team of "change ambassadors" from each unit, in June this year, RIO established its new operational headquarters in McNamara (200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455). The project involved restructuring the existing suites to accommodate a range of work arrangements, from fully in-person to hybrid to fully remote. The new space includes multiple flexible-use options including touchdown desks with docking stations, conference rooms with video conferencing, huddle rooms, focus rooms, open collaborations spaces, a wellness room, and a lactation room. 

Empty office space
New workstations and seating areas in the RIO administrative office in suite 224, McNamara Alumni Center.
Emply office desks and a row of lockers
Empty work stations in a collaborative work space
Technology Commercialization offices and flexible workspace in suite 226, McNamara Alumni Center.

“It’s great to have RIO headquartered in McNamara, and I want to give special thanks to Thierry Boudet, Rosalie Dionne, and Laura Fingerson for their great work on this accomplishment,” said Vice President for Research and Innovation Shashank Priya. “Thierry led this complex project from the start and has demonstrated phenomenal leadership in executing the overall vision. It represents new efficiencies and better use of resources, but it’s also a chance for enhanced collaborations. Having colleagues from different units at the same location opens opportunities for random interactions and discussions, and for building a better sense of community among the people who every day dedicate themselves to the success of the U’s research enterprise.”

The following units now have offices on the second and fourth floors of McNamara:

Visit the unit website for specific address information.

RIO is planning to hold an open house for the new space during its annual town hall in the fall, though anyone is invited to stop by and check out the new space at their convenience during office hours.