The Design Process Behind Bloomington and White Bear Subaru 

Over the past few years, we’ve worked on two exciting dealership design projects: constructing two state-of-the-art Subaru dealerships from the ground up. The first project was White Bear Subaru, nestled in the charming town of Vadnais Heights, MN, while the second project, Bloomington Subaru, is in the bustling city of Bloomington, MN. In this post, we’ll take you through the creative process behind both projects, highlighting the unique features that make each dealership stand out.

Bloomington Subaru: A Fusion of Functionality and Aesthetics

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The two-story Bloomington Subaru dealership was designed by Baker Associates and has been a resounding success. The design challenge was having the showroom on the second floor due to site constraints, so we had to create a dynamic way to lead people up to the second floor. Our solution was to create a grand staircase to provide visual wayfinding and easy customer access. Due to budget constraints, we had to value-engineer the staircase, ultimately incorporating it into a wall with acoustic panels and a blue color scheme that integrated nicely with the Subaru brand. Fun fact: A hotel we visited inspired these blue acoustic panels in the staircase! This feature wall now serves as a striking focal point in the dealership.

As you enter the space, a multi-pendant light provides general illumination. The final design resembles mountain-type angles, which fits the Subaru branding! 

No Ceiling? No Problem: A Lesson in Creative Solutions

In Bloomington Subaru, a critical design decision was omitting ceiling elements to assist in balancing the cost. To ensure there was visual separation from the mechanical and structural elements above, our team painted the ceiling black and added a black band that runs around the perimeter at the same height, creating a consistent visual plane throughout the floor. The light fixtures were also kept black and at the same height as the black stripe, blending seamlessly into the space.

This decision highlights the importance of considering a space’s aesthetics and its design’s functionality and practicality. By strategically incorporating elements such as acoustic panels and careful placement of lighting fixtures, we created a visually striking and functional space that meets the needs of both customers and employees.

Natural Light, Accent Lighting & Glass: Creating Transparency and Openness

Our team worked closely with the dealership owners to create a design that reflected the Subaru brand and the local community. One unique feature of both dealerships is large glass façades that allow natural light to flood the showroom and other areas. Transparency was a key design element, providing a sense of openness and visibility essential for a dealership space. Natural light creates an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for customers and employees.

Accent lighting also played a significant role, with hanging round silver lights in the café area of Bloomington Subaru adding a modern touch.

Wood Elements & Durability: Striking a Balance Between Aesthetics and Practicality

Baker Associates made significant design decisions when creating the branded look for Bloomington Subaru. While the dealership had an established palette, our team incorporated their creativity to make the space stand out. We have carefully considered combining wood elements sparingly to achieve a more contemporary look. We’ve opted for grey tones to keep the palette in line with current design trends. 

Another critical aspect was ensuring that all millwork pieces were durable and long-lasting. Our team used quartz surfacing and metal trim pieces to protect laminate elements from chipping. This attention to detail is consistent throughout Baker Associates’ designs, ensuring all our buildings are beautiful and functional.

Break Rooms and Family-Friendly Spaces

We recognize the importance of addressing the diverse needs of all our customers, including parents with young children. For this reason, we’ve incorporated a dedicated mother’s suite and a children’s play area into the dealership’s design.

The mother’s suite offers a private, comfortable space where mothers can tend to their infants’ needs in a serene and calming environment. It provides privacy and convenience, ensuring parents have a suitable area to care for their little ones.

On the other hand, the children’s play area is a vibrant, interactive space designed to captivate and entertain young children while their parents are engaged in other activities. This area is furnished with toys and games that promote learning and play, fostering a family-friendly atmosphere within the dealership.

New Car Delivery & Service Area

With all our dealerships, we strive to create an exceptional experience for customers, and one aspect that sets us apart is creating state-of-the-art new car delivery areas. Every vehicle is expertly staged and prepared for delivery to valued customers, ensuring a truly memorable experience; therefore, the design should be no less unique!

But that’s not all – we also take great pride in how light and airy the service area turned out, designed to provide a comfortable and inviting space for hard-working service technicians. 

Featuring ample natural lighting and a streamlined design, our service area harmonizes with Bloomington Subaru’s dealership aesthetic while focusing on efficiency and customer satisfaction. This well-organized space ensures smooth operations and a seamless experience for clients, making their car maintenance visits convenient and enjoyable. The modern design elements not only reflect the brand’s identity but also promote a sense of professionalism and reliability in the service provided. We believe a meticulously designed service area is crucial for exceptional service. Therefore, we have invested wholeheartedly in constructing a space that our clients, their customers, and technicians can take pride in and appreciate.

Outdoor Patio

Enjoy the nice weather at Bloomington Subaru with this cozy outdoor patio we designed! This inviting space provides an ideal setting for customers to relax and unwind while waiting for their vehicles or enjoying a pleasant outdoor break. Thoughtfully designed with comfortable seating, attractive natural lighting, and stone elements, the patio enhances the overall customer experience, reflecting the dealership’s commitment to creating a positive and memorable atmosphere for its clients. 

We think a patio could be a great addition to any car dealership – especially now that warmer months are heading our way!

Bloomington: An Industrial Modern Subaru

In conclusion, the design of this dealership features a more industrial and modern approach compared to our other Subaru dealerships. We’ve skillfully integrated an industrial modern outdoor patio that distinguishes it and adds a unique touch. This design incorporates black and wood detailing elements, acoustic panels, and accent lighting, all of which complement the overall aesthetic. The outdoor patio serves as a pleasant extension of the dealership experience, allowing customers to appreciate the thoughtfulness of the design even more.

Let’s now transition to our more “polished” Subaru project – White Bear Subaru!

White Bear Subaru: Nature Meets Style

White Bear Subaru is in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Like Bloomington Subaru, our team worked closely with the dealership owners to create a design that reflected the Subaru brand and the local community. One of the unique features of this dealership is that we were able to incorporate more natural elements into it, which makes this Subaru its special place that differs from our Bloomington one. 

With White Bear Subaru, we prided ourselves on creating a dealership experience that is both welcoming and sophisticated. Every detail has been carefully considered, from the lounge area to the service bays, to ensure that customers feel at home while exploring the selection of high-quality vehicles.

Lounge & Front Desk Area

In the lounge area, we chose to use natural slate tile to create a cohesive look that seamlessly connects the interior to the exterior of the building. The millwork in this space was designed to incorporate realistic elements such as wood accents, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. We even used Cambria brand quartz slabs on the front desks for their natural texture and color, which aligns with the Subaru brand palette.

One unique feature of the dealership is the stunning artwork installation of wood disks stained in different colors. This unique installation showcases our attention to detail in incorporating natural elements into the design and is a beautiful focal point for the lounge area.

Another standout feature of the dealership is the communal table in the lounge area, which has become so popular that Subaru has made it a mandated element in their design documents! Made of live-edge wood, this table perfectly embodies our commitment to natural textures and colors throughout the dealership.

Accent Lighting and Other Design Elements

Throughout the dealership, we focused on accent lighting and other design elements to create a warm and inviting atmosphere that showcases the Subaru brand. Glass walls adorned with a profile of a tree line emphasize the natural ingredients incorporated throughout the space. At the same time, a two-story lounge area flooded with natural light provides a calming atmosphere for customers and employees alike.

Training Rooms, Service Bays, and More

As you can see, we LOVED using natural finishes and colors in the training room in this part of the Subaru dealership. The space has a warm and welcoming feel by incorporating earthy tones and textures, such as wood paneling and slate tile flooring. 

In the car service areas, one of the unique features of this space is the custom tiles. The design team had the opportunity to incorporate their tile with a natural stone aesthetic, adding to the overall theme of bringing the outdoors inside. The use of this tile not only provides a functional and durable surface for the service area and enhances the visual appeal of the space with its unique texture and color. 

Innovative Architecture and Dealership Design

At Baker Associates, we are passionate about creating innovative, inviting spaces that perfectly embody our clients’ vision. We are proud to have been a part of the 2017 Bloomington Subaru and 2021 White Bear Subaru projects. Our team worked closely with the dealership owners to create designs that reflected the Subaru brand and the local communities.

We believe every detail matters when designing an exceptional dealership experience. We incorporated custom stone tile, natural wood elements, and perfectly placed accent lighting to create a unique and welcoming atmosphere. Our team spent countless hours fine-tuning every design aspect to ensure that customers and employees would feel comfortable and inspired while exploring the dealership.

We take pride in incorporating natural elements into our designs through real slate tile, live edge wood tables, or artwork installations made from stained wood disks. Bringing the outdoors inside creates a sense of warmth and connection that perfectly complements the Subaru brand and the dealership’s mission.

At Baker Associates, we are committed to continuing our tradition of creating unique automotive retail spaces that perfectly reflect our client’s needs and vision. We look forward to working on more exciting projects like these and helping our clients achieve their goals through innovative architecture and design.

For more photos of our dealership projects, check out our portfolio!