AIA SD Firm Feature


Please provide an overview of your firm.

ISG is a team of 320+ motivated, energetic, and authentic architects, engineers, and design professionals who are driven to improve the communities in which we live. Relationships are at the core of our design philosophy, and we owe a lot to the relationships we have developed with clients and communities over the years. Those relationships have allowed us continued growth across the Midwest, with offices in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In order to build those relationships, we leverage our expertise in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, structural, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. (among others) Tapping into our full-service team instigates collaboration across disciplines to ensure a sustainable and responsible solution responding to each client’s unique needs.

What is the role of architects at your organization, and what should people know about them?

Architecture is more than a building. It provides spaces that shape how we interact with one another and our environment. It is a place to work. It is a place to play. It is home.

Architects at ISG are professionals who love what we do, and have fun while doing it! We work side by side with our in-house interior designers, landscape architects, and engineers to design a project that enhances the experience of its users and inhabitants. During the design process, we utilize state of the art technology such as 3D imaging, rendering, virtual reality, and visualizations to bring client ideas to life, all before any shovel hits the dirt.

What type of projects does your organization focus on?

Being a full-service firm, our projects range across multiple industries including: commercial, education, housing, sports + rec, Government + Cultural, healthcare, public works, food + industrial, energy, water + waste water, transportation and even mining! Along with built structures, ISG focuses on community planning – whether that be a downtown streetscape, K12 masterplanning, or designing community parks to name a few. Developing an overarching masterplan is vital in ensuring a vision that supports current and future operations, promotes healthy lifestyles, and instigates future growth.

Share some notable projects.

Sanford Sports Complex – Sioux Falls, SD
The master plan for a 70-acre outdoor athletic facility within an existing sports complex in Sioux Falls, South Dakota includes multi-use event spaces, 5 synthetic turf baseball fields, 5 synthetic turf softball fields, 10 synthetic turf soccer fields, multi-use trails, parking and roadway infrastructure, and player and spectator amenities. Designed to enhance the game day experience for spectators through unique features such as bermed seating, and spectator viewing areas within the ballfields, play and splash pad areas, shade structures, and native prairie theme throughout, this destination sports complex is set to deliver a new standard of play and further elevate the region.

Sanford Sports Complex (Sioux Falls, SD)

The Quarters @ Vermillion – Vermillion, SD
The Quarters is a high-end residential development designed to serve students and provide them a sense of place, ownership, and pride. Within walking distance to campus, the completed development offers a variety of living arrangements, and features University-branded community spaces including a clubhouse, pool, and outdoor amenities.

The Quarters @ Vermillion (Vermillion, SD)

Eide Bailly Tower – Mankato, MN
As a key entryway into the City of Mankato’s growing downtown, the Eide Bailly Tower serves as a commercial anchor providing much-needed commercial retail, office, and restaurant spaces for the area. The 70,000-square-foot building is anchored by a ground floor fitted with local limestone to blend into the surrounding historic architecture, while sleek, modern designs on the tower provide a high-performance focal point to spur the area’s revitalization.

Eide Bailly Tower (Mankato, MN)

Describe the culture of your firm/organization.

  1. PEOPLE are our most important asset. Without our team members, we cannot do what we do.

We are a group of dedicated professionals who understand the important balance between working hard and playing hard. From weekly happy hours at our favorite local brewery (aka “Conference Room R”), to encouraging community involvement, we strive to provide an environment that empowers each employee owner and allows them to pursue their passions while being themselves. Even if “being yourself” means partaking in “Cowboy Boot Fridays”…

Not many careers allow your passions to drive your work, but at ISG we do that every day. Rather than “work-life balance” we believe in our “work-life integration“. After all, this is our calling and we love what we do!

Describe the history of your firm/organization.

In 1973 Gene Isakson and Ken Surprenant founded I&S Engineers in Surprenant’s Mankato, Minnesota basement. The firm quickly developed a stable client base to sustain the business and added services to satisfy client needs. Following several acquisitions to solidify market expertise, enhance services, and grow geographic-based expertise, ISG expanded its Minnesota geographic footprint into Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

ISG opened its South Dakota location in Sioux Falls three years ago with just three employees. Since then, ISG Sioux Falls has grown to house 18 employee owners, with anticipated continued growth to 75+ professionals within the next few years. Our presence in South Dakota has allowed us to establish local partnerships and gives us a first-hand understanding of the physical, social, and economic landscape, as well as the community’s unique needs—guiding planning efforts for local projects.

A strategic transition from single ownership and shareholder model to 100% Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2017, means ISG now operates as a one-firm profit center—resulting in a team of 325+ employee owners who share a personal investment in the success of the firm. This shift, paired with numerous acquisitions and continuously bringing in top talent has contributed to substantial growth that has positioned ISG as an industry leader.

What makes your firm/organization unique?

100% ESOP contributes to a spirit of involvement among our employee owners, with each being deeply invested in the communities in which we live, work, and play. We strive to make the world around us a better place, and we don’t simply support improvement efforts from afar—we roll up our sleeves, jump in, and take ownership. This grassroots approach is embodied by our annual sponsorship of River Fest, as well as our current work on a passion project with the Friends for the Big Sioux River, where we are organizing Big Sioux Brew to raise awareness about water quality, sustainability, and recreation.

ISG also cultivates community involvement on a smaller scale through numerous affiliations and our “Impact Day” program. Each ISG employee owner is empowered to give back to their communities with a paid day to volunteer with an organization of their choice. Backed by the support of the firm, ISG employees pursue their passions and impact the people and places around them every day.

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