Refinement and improvement are natural results of any firm’s efforts on multiple projects of a similar type. CNH Architects aptly refers to this as “long-term building type experience.”
"We like to think of ourselves as well-rounded and capable," said CNH Principal Quinn Hutson. “At the same time, there’s in-depth knowledge in specific areas, and types of projects that become a specialty of sorts for us.”
Whether a client has worked with the architectural firm for five years, or 45, there is a history, a deeper understanding and expertise that are built upon.
Principal Wayne Hilbert said the group often talks about “working for the client, not the project,” which is difficult for some people in the field. “Whatever works best for the client is what we’re trying to achieve in the long run.”
And, long runs there have been. In the heavy equipment business, CNH has designed sales and service facilities in four states over close to five decades for Ziegler CAT. More recently, after developing prototype day care facility concepts, the firm has helped create or remodel almost a dozen such centers for Jardin Spanish Immersion Academy and the YMCA, among others.
In hospitality, CNH worked with Hilton – Minneapolis Hotel & Towers over the past 15 years to upgrade and expand the largest convention hotel in Minnesota. It also designed, remodeled and improved smaller hotels in multiple cities for brands including AmericInn, GrandStay and Hyatt Regency.
“There are very detailed aspects that we have researched and explored on past projects, which have allowed us to quickly provide this expertise on current work,” said Hutson.
In the past decade, for example, fire stations have come to the fore for CNH. The firm’s knowledge continues to expand in training features, firefighter health aspects, the latest materials and approaches.
State, county and local government projects over the past three decades have also strengthened CNH’s “high value” through specialized background, Hutson explains.
“Regularly, we discuss issues or create design responses that our clients hadn’t considered but result in improved facilities or approaches to their operations,” said Hutson.
This government work started back in 1986 working with the City of Apple Valley and has extended to other municipalities including Eagan, Rosemount and others around the region. At the state level, CNH has designed and remodeled MnDOT facilities and upgraded facilities on the State Capitol grounds and the Minnesota History Center.
Priorities are different for each client, such as with automotive dealerships, another long-term building specialty for CNH. Dealerships are typically concerned with brand standards and local needs. Creating welcoming spaces that cater to the “guest experience” is crucial. They also must function well for service, parts and vehicle delivery operations.
CNH played a major role with five Valley Automotive Group dealerships and a recent expansion for Buerkle Honda. “We understand the unique mix of retail and repair elements, critical operational flows, and the complexity of working with international brand standards,” said Hutson.
Some of the same aspects may apply to churches and religious facilities. There are leaders and committees to work with, and congregational needs to discover. All over Minnesota, CNH has created detailed plans for new structures, as well as remodelings and additions. Religious camps and parochial schools have also been in the work mix.
For returning clients, of which there are many, CNH knows many of the particular intricacies of each, said Hutson. It also knows a great deal about the project types. “This helps us to see how the emerging data might benefit future projects in a way someone not as familiar with that industry might miss.”