Posts tagged with "Minnesota":

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Orphaned segment of Minneapolis skyway destined for art installation, modernist lakeside home

In February, a Twin Cities design firm advertised an unusual yard sale of sorts. CityDeskStudio offered to pay $5,000 to whomever could haul away and repurpose an 84-foot long section of Minneapolis' famous skyway system that once spanned South 5th Street. The skyway segment is now headed to a private residence in Brainerd, Minnesota—but not before playing host to a contemplative art installation that examines the philosophical dimensions of this defunct piece of pedestrian infrastructure. Dubbed LONGING—“an emotional expression and a verbal play on lengthening,” in the words of its Vancouver-based artists—the exhibition opens Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and will remain open through May 10, 2015. It is located at the edge of the University of Minnesota campus, northeast of the intersection of 6th Street SE and SE 23rd Ave. (44°58’39.3”N 93°13’10.2”W) “We have been working on this off and on for two years, so we are really excited to see this come to life,” said Jennifer Newsom Carruthers, principal of Dream the Combine, the artists mounting the exhibition. Their installation uses strategically placed mirrors to alter visitors' perception of the object. Per the artists' description:
LONGING reestablishes this fragment within a network of its own making. Using two inward-facing, 10’x15', moveable mirrors suspended at either end of the skyway from a tensegrity supported gimbal, LONGING creates a visually infinite environment that bridges toward distant horizons. This virtual space flexes as the wind rotates the mirrors and the audience performs with and occupies their reflections. By using just 35lbs of pressure on a dampened counterweight at the rear of the panels, people can manipulate the large mirrors and the illusion of depth within them. As the images move and infinity wanders, the space bends into unpredictable forms.
After the exhibition closes, the 140-ton skyway segment heads 130 miles north to bucolic Brainerd, Minnesota where a young family has commissioned the current skyway owners, CityDeskStudio, to repurpose it as a lakeside home. Aimee and Preston Jobe plan to add a wing to the skyway segment to make an L-shaped floorplan. "It's like a dream come true," said Aimee Jobe, a photographer, in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I'm a lover of old things and I live to renovate things." Here's a gallery of the installation, currently under construction, from Dream the Combine:
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Twin Cities architects will pay you $5,000 to take this piece of the Minneapolis skyway

Minneapolis architects CityDeskStudio are sitting on an iconic piece of Twin Cities infrastructure. Almost a decade ago they acquired a defunct chunk of the city's elevated pedestrian network, the Minneapolis Skyway. Years later they're still wondering what to do with it, which could be to your benefit if you're in the market for a 140-ton steel box designed by Ed Baker. You don't need deep pockets, either. In fact, they'll pay you $5,000 to haul it away. Built between 1962 and 1972, the skyway system comprises more than eight miles of enclosed footbridges criss-crossing downtown Minneapolis. Though urbanists sometimes blame it for sucking the air out of street life, the skyway system serves a vital function during long Minnesota winters. But this particular segment, which used to connect the J.C. Penney and Powers stores across South 5th Street, became defunct with the demolition of Powers more than a decade ago. Bob Ganser and Ben Awes of CityDeskStudio bought the 83-foot skyway segment in 2006, winning a blind auction from its previous owner, the University of Minnesota. As Jim Buchta writes for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, CityDeskStudio's attempt to unload the 1,380-square-foot structure has attracted some interesting proposals:
In 2009, CityDeskStudio posted an ad for the skyway on Craigslist, offering the 1,380-square-foot structure for $79,500. The ad went viral, but still no takers, so they dropped the price to $49,500. “We’ve had more proposals, inquiries and exciting conversations than we could count,” said Ganser. There were four or five serious possibilities, including converting the skyway into a rental retreat near Brainerd, a nonprofit career-training program in north Minneapolis and a rooftop studio space/artist loft in south Minneapolis. Some of the ideas weren’t so serious. Someone suggested a nightclub on wheels, and just last week the duo received a proposal to turn it into a “sweet-ass mobile deer stand, complete with repurposed tank track wheels and a gun turret,” Ganser said. “This idea included the use of our finder’s fee to pay for gas and ‘a bunch of coolers of Bud.’ ”
The structure now it sits on land leased by CityDeskStudio, instead of looming over 5th Street. Given its heft and sturdy engineering, it could be repurposed as a bridge. Previous plans to turn it into a Philip Johnsonesque modernist house received a lot of attention, but so far no takers. With a $5,000 incentive, perhaps the “skyway to nowhere” will finally go somewhere again.
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Minneapolis college wants to accredit architecture students in just five years

Minneapolis architect John Dwyer is the latest on a growing list of educators hoping to streamline the path from architecture student to practicing designer—an odyssey of classes, vocational training, and rigorous licensing requirements that can top the time it takes to become a medical specialist. As head of the architecture department at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, Dwyer is offering a program designed to qualify architects in five years. The Bachelor of Architecture program is not yet accredited, but already has 55 enrolled students, according to a spokeswoman for Dwyer. (Dunwoody itself is accredited, but the program is a candidate expecting approval for degrees starting 2019.) Dunwoody also offers technical training and associate degrees, including a welding program in Winsted, Minnesota. Their architecture program prioritizes “hands-on, real-world experience” and mentorships with working designers. Students pursue an Associate in Applied Science Degree in the first two years, earning a Bachelor's three years later. The move to fast track architectural education and practice follows similar efforts at larger institutions, including the University of Minnesota. Last year the College of Design at the University of Minnesota announced a new, one-year MS-RP program that aims to help B.Arch or M.Arch graduates achieve licensure within six months of graduation. They cited a study from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) showing the average time from graduation to completion of the mandatory Intern Development Program (IDP) is 6.4 years, plus another 2 years to complete the exams and actually receive a license to practice.
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Eavesdrop> Minnesota engineer speaks truth to power

“Can you be an engineer and speak out for reform?” That’s the question one civil engineer and blogger posed on his website, strongtowns.org, after a former American Society of Civil Engineers fellow filed a complaint with his state licensing board. According to the blogger, Charles Marohn, it was retaliation for a post critiquing Minnesota’s plan to spend much of its transportation budget on new construction instead of maintenance. http://youtu.be/P9BUyWVg1xI The impulse to build more and more was indicative of a much larger problem in the profession, and in U.S. urban planning. “[Our system is] one big Ponzi scheme attempting to prop up a rolling development extravaganza of strip malls, big box stores, fast food, and cheap residential housing,” wrote Marohn. Eaves certainly doesn’t want to incur the wrath of the Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience & Interior Design (whew!), but bravo to Marohn for spilling some digital ink on the subject of smart growth that restores some meaning to the word “smart.”
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Minneapolis planners pick 36-story tower for Nicollet Hotel block

City planners in Minneapolis have named a winner in the public competition to redevelop a downtown lot that had locals reevaluating the place of tall towers in the Twin Cities. After first rejecting an 80-story tower proposal that would have become the tallest building in Minnesota, the planners picked a 36-story tower and hotel complex proposed by United Properties, based in suburban Bloomington, Minn. "The Gateway," a 36-story tower and hotel complex, was recommended by city planners for Minneapolis' Nicollet Hotel Block. (United Properties) United is owned by members of the family that also own the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise, who came under fire when the construction of the Twins stadium, Target Field, received substantial public financing. By contrast the new tower will be privately funded. The project, dubbed The Gateway, offers 300 units and a full-service Hilton hotel designed by Duluth-based LHB Corp. United is partnering with FRM Associates—the property owner of Marquette Plaza—to extend Cancer Survivors Park, a nearby green space, connecting it with a “year-round, street-level activity park” at The Gateway's base. That park is supposed to connect with a trolley car planned to open in 2018. Although the proposal awaits approval from city council, the city planners' recommendation virtually guarantees its success. Their selection of United's proposal reverses plans to present the remaining proposals to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association on February 16—a move that has stirred some controversy among local skyline-watchers who favored the 80-story proposal in an online poll. The Gateway was the second tallest of the four proposals. Since 1991 the site at the northern end of downtown's Nicollet Mall has been a surface parking lot and bus stop. “This end of Nicollet Mall really starts to get very quiet as the day ends, and it needs a catalyst to bring new life and new vigor,” Bill Katter, executive vice president of investments for United Properties, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
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Frank Gehry Shuffle: University of St. Thomas to move Winton Guest House a second time

An early Frank Gehry–designed house about an hour south of Minneapolis is on the move—again. The Winton Guest House, which Gehry designed in the early 1980s for Penny and Mike Winton, sits on property in Owatonna, Minnesota recently sold by the building's owner, the University of St. Thomas. They have until August 2016 to relocate the playful, postmodern cluster of forms. It's not the first time the house has been relocated. In 2008 the university divided the structure into eight sections for the 110-mile move from its original site west of the Twin Cities on Lake Minnetonka. Last year the university sold its Gainey C. Gainey Conference Center property, on which the Winton house now sits. Victoria Young, chair of the department of art history at the University of St. Thomas, said there are several options for the move. “We could move the house back up to campus now. We could store the house and move it onto campus in conjunction with building a new Fine Arts Center, something that has been talked about a bit, we could sell the house at auction or a cultural organization could step up and save it. Or a donor could come to be and make any of these things happen,” she said. But wherever it ends up, she added, “my administration has committed to getting the house off the property before the August 2016 deadline, when it would become the property of the new owners.” Young meets with the University body overseeing the move, the Physical Facilities Planning Committee of St. Thomas' Board of Trustees, on Feb. 18, and is expected to determine a course of action the next day. The University has hired Consultant Chris Madrid French, a preservationist and former director of the now-defunct Modernism + Recent Past Initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. French pulled off a similar move with the historic Capen House in Winter Park, Florida. An early and relatively modest example of Gehry's work, the Winton House offers a glimpse at the residential design sensibilities of an architect who would go on to achieve stardom for theaters, pavilions and museums. “I would love for the house to be open to the public to showcase the early part of Frank’s career, when he began working outside California and when important clients, Mike and Penny Winton, gave him the freedom to create art out of architectural form,” said Young. “This paved the way for the Weisman Art Museum, Guggenheim Bilbao, etc. Gehry is one of the most important architects of the twentieth century, and I am committed to a preservation of his legacy.”
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Minnesota state fair redesign goes beyond the corn dog

Almost 2 million Minnesotans poured through the gates of St. Paul's state fair grounds this year, and many are attributing that record-breaking attendance number to a redesigned West End Market. Local designers at Cuningham Group Architecture led the largest Fair expansion since the 1930s, replacing an array of nondescript vendor booths with 15 new buildings.  The booths were built in 1964 and were meant to be temporary. In addition to restaurants and vendor pavilions, the firm carved out space for two rain gardens and a transit hub for the more than 700,000 people who arrive each year by bus. The centerpiece of the West End Market redesign was the History and Heritage Center, which is home to a collection of artifacts curated by the Minnesota Historical Society. Cuningham is no stranger to injecting modern design knowledge into aging, rural settings. Their work includes Madison, Wisconsin healthcare software developer Epic Systems’ bucolic headquarters, a high-tech barn amid rolling green hills.
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HGA Updates a Minneapolis Landmark

Slate-clad addition to the American Swedish Institute evokes contemporary Scandinavian design.

Minneapolis-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm HGA faced a tall order when the American Swedish Institute asked them to design an addition to the building known locally as "The Castle." The turreted Turnblad Mansion, constructed in Minneapolis' Phillips West neighborhood in 1908 and home of ASI since 1929, lacked the kinds of multi-purpose spaces required by ASI's cultural and educational programming—and was suffering wear and tear from a steady stream of visitors. "The project was about creating a front door that was more welcoming and inviting than the existing building, that can help protect the mansion and allow it to be used as a house museum," said project architect Andy Weyenberg. At the same time,  "the mansion remained the focal point," he explained. "It will always be the identity of ASI. Everything we did, we wanted to respect the mansion and keep it as a centerpiece." HGA's intervention honors the primacy of the Turnblad Mansion while updating ASI's image with a contemporary facade inspired by Swedish building methods and materials.
  • Facade Manufacturer Vermont Slate Company (slate), Architectural Glass Art (art glass), Empirehouse (curtain walls)
  • Architects HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Facade Installer Dalco (slate), Empirehouse (curtain wall and glazing)
  • Facade Consultant Xcel Energy (daylighting analysis)
  • Location Minneapolis, MN
  • Date of Completion 2012
  • System slate shingles, art glass panels, curtain walls, glazing, green roof
  • Products Vermont Slate shingles, custom art glass from Architectural Glass Art, Empirehouse custom curtain walls Viracon glazing
"The mansion doesn't relate well to the Swedish identity: it's a French Chateau," said Weyenberg. "ASI wanted to use the addition to reinforce their identity as a Swedish institution, but they were interested in doing that in a modern way, relating it more to modern Swedish design and architecture." Positioned across a courtyard, or gård (a traditional typology found in both rural and urban buildings), from the Turnblad Mansion, the new Nelson Cultural Center is clad primarily in slate shingles. "Slate is a common building material in Scandinavia, especially dark slate like that," explained Weyenberg, who says that it is primarily used as a roofing material, but that he has seen examples of slate cladding since working on ASI's expansion. The slate also matches that on the Turnblad Mansion's roof. "We're using material that's sympathetic to the mansion, but using it in a different way. It's clearly a new piece of architecture," said Weyenberg. He points out that although there's nothing particularly high-tech about how the cladding was installed—it is hung like a roof system—it promises environmental benefits in terms of durability and longevity. "The roof on the mansion has been in place 100 years," observed Weyenberg. The entrance to Nelson Cultural Center is lined with panes of blue textured glass, another nod to Swedish design. Sweden is known for its glassmaking, having produced art glass firms including Orrefors and Kosta Boda. ASI's collection also includes a number of significant glass pieces. "That was another way of tying the design back to Sweden, and creating a reference to the ASI's collection, while also creating a bold element at the entry," said Weyenberg. HGA worked with Louisville, Kentucky, glassmakers Architectural Glass Art (AGA) to combine layers of commercially available textured glass and resin to create the translucent panels. "There's not a strong reference in terms of its construction to Swedish glassmaking," said Weyenberg, "but there was a process in terms of working with AGA as a craftsman to come to a quality we all liked. We wanted something subtle in texture but with an organic quality that relates well to the slate." HGA took advantage of a consulting program sponsored by local energy provider Xcel Energy to locate windows and curtain walls to frame views of the mansion and maximize daylighting while minimizing energy loss. Other features contributing to Nelson Cultural Center's LEED Gold status include a vegetated roof over the gallery and event spaces. "Green roofs are a really common form of building in Sweden," said Weyenberg. "They've been building sod roofs on farm buildings forever." Nelson Cultural Center's contemporary design reflects ASI's commitment to celebrating the Swedish influence on the Twin Cities while connecting with Minneapolis' next generation of newcomers—including, in the Phillips West neighborhood, young Somali immigrants. "As part of this expansion, they were really trying to update their identity and keep themselves current," said Weyenberg. "Their core constituency is aging. They were looking for a way to keep themselves relevant, and to reach out to new audiences."
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Twin Cities celebrate first inter-city rail connection in decades

For a metro area as widely praised for its alternative transportation options as Minnesota’s Twin Cities, it’s surprising Minneapolis and St. Paul are only now celebrating a new light rail connection between their downtowns. The U.S. Department of Transportation called the Central Corridor, also known as the METRO Green Line, “the single largest public works project in the history of Minnesota.” The Twin Cities' Metropolitan Council says construction employed 5,500 people and created 200 permanent new operations jobs at a total cost of $957 million, $480 million of which was in federal funds, including TIGER grants. State and local governments split the rest. The METRO Green Line runs between Target Field in Minneapolis and Union Depot in St. Paul, stopping 23 times. Some 45,000 people rode the new transit line on June 14, its opening day, reminding many of the more than 500 miles of streetcar tracks that crisscrossed the Twin Cities 50 years ago. Some criticized the project for its costs, the Star Tribune reported, labeling the 11-mile route “the money train.” Others used an opening day with no major hang-ups to call for a slew of other rail projects around the city and state. Now that the Green Line's hoopla is over, as the Pioneer Press put it, “its real test begins.”
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Minneapolis breaks ground on massive downtown east development

Earlier this month, workers broke ground on the largest Twin Cities real estate development project in two decades. Budding off a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, designed by HKS, locally based Ryan Companies saw an opportunity to redefine the Minneapolis neighborhood of Downtown East. Their five-block mixed-use development will include two 18-story office towers for Wells Fargo, six levels of parking with more than 1,600 spaces, about 24,000 square feet of retail space, 193 apartments and a four-acre urban park near the new stadium’s northwest corner. Wells Fargo currently has 5,000 employees scattered across more than a dozen offices throughout the area. Bordering the Mississippi River, Downtown East is already home to the Guthrie Theater, whose form mimics the defunct flour mills that comprise much of the area’s post-industrial building stock—a heritage celebrated by the Mill City Museum, also in Downtown East. And while some residential development has followed those cultural attractions, the neighborhood has so far missed out on the artistic cachet that has enlivened nearby areas like North Loop and Northeast. The New York Times took a look at what the Downtown East development could mean for the city and state, which wrestled with financing for the new Vikings Stadium before ultimately approving partial public funding. While officials are quick to tout the project’s economic potential, some residents blast its lack of low-income housing. From the Times article by Christina Capecchi:
Mayor [Betsy] Hodges said she hoped to work affordable housing into Downtown East. “The housing portion hasn’t been fully fleshed out,” she said, “so that’s a conversation we’re having.” Ultimately, Downtown East is a chance to spur the development that the 31-year-old Metrodome failed to generate, said Michael Langley, chief executive of the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. “This is an opportunity for a huge do-over,” he said.
Minneapolis has undertaken a slew of large infrastructure improvements lately, such as a revamp of downtown's pedestrian strip, Nicollet Mall, and public transportation investments to the bike-friendly city that include a long-awaited light rail connection to neighboring St. Paul and an intermodal transit station next to Target Field.
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AIA’s Committee On The Environment Announces 2014’s Top 10 Green Buildings

The AIA's Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the winners of its annual sustainability awards program. Now in its 18th year, the COTE awards celebrate green architecture, design, and technology. According to a press release, the winning projects must “make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts.” Each of the ten winners will be officially honored at the AIA's National Convention and Design Exhibition in Chicago later this year, but, in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the 10 winners. Arizona State University Student Health Services (Pictured at top) Tempe, Arizona Lake|Flato Architects + Orcutt|Winslow According to the AIA: “The Arizona State University (ASU) Health Services Building is an adaptive reuse project that transformed the existing sterile and inefficient clinic into a clearly organized, efficient, and welcoming facility. The design imbues the new facility with a sense of health and wellness that leverages Tempe’s natural environment and contributes to a more cohesive pedestrian oriented campus. The building’s energy performance is 49% below ASHRAE 90.1-2007, exceeding the current target of the 2030 Challenge. The facility achieved LEED Platinum certification and is one of the best energy performers on campus as evidenced by ASU’s Campus Metabolism interactive web-tool tracking real-time resource use.” Bud Clark Commons Portland, Oregon Holst Architecture According to the AIA: “As a centerpiece of Portland’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, this LEED Platinum project provides a continuum of services to help transition homeless individuals toward stable, permanent living arrangements. The architecture helps achieve this goal with a walk-in day center with public courtyard and access to support services; a 90-bed temporary shelter; and a separate and secure entrance to 130 efficient, furnished studio apartments for homeless individuals seeking permanent housing. The building’s design aims to deinstitutionalize services and housing for the most vulnerable in our population. Sustainable features include large-scale graywater recycling, zero stormwater runoff, solar hot water, and a high-performance envelope, resulting in energy savings estimated at $60,000 annually.” Bushwick Inlet Park Brooklyn, New York Kiss + Cathcart, Architects According to the AIA: “This project is the first phase of the transformation of the Greenpoint–Williamsburg waterfront from a decaying industrial strip to a multifaceted public park. The design team integrated a program of playfields, public meeting rooms, classrooms, and park maintenance facilities, into a city-block sized site. The park building becomes a green hill on the west side, making 100% of the site usable to the public, and offering views to Manhattan. Below the green roof is a complex of building systems – ground source heat pump wells, rainwater harvest and storage, and drip irrigation. A solar trellis produces half the total energy used in the building.” Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building Modernization Portland, Oregon SERA Architects in association with Cutler Anderson Architects According to the AIA:  “On track to be one of the lowest energy-use buildings in the U.S., EGWW is a model for U.S. General Services Administration nationwide. The project’s goal was to transform the existing building from an aging, energy hog to one of the premiere environmentally-friendly buildings in the nation. With a unique facade of “reeds”, light shelf /sunshades designed by orientation and a roof canopy that supports a 180 kW photovoltaic array while collecting rainwater, EGWW pushes the boundaries for innovative sustainable deign strategies. In addition to the energy improvements, the design reveals the history of the building, exposing the artifacts of the original builders.” Gateway Center - SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry Syracuse, NY Architerra According to the AIA: “The SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry Gateway Center is a striking symbol of environmental stewardship and climate action leadership. This LEED Platinum campus center meets ESF’s goal of reducing the overall carbon footprint of the campus through net positive renewable energy production, while creating a combined heat and power plant and intensive green roof that serve as hands-on teaching and research tools. The double-ended bioclimatic form exemplifies passive solar design. Net positive energy systems integrated with the design serve four adjacent ESF buildings, providing 60% of annual campus heating needs and 20% of annual power needs.” John & Frances Angelos Law Center Baltimore, Maryland Behnisch Architekten and Ayers Saint Gross According to the AIA: “The John and Frances Angelos Law Center is the first large-scale opportunity for the University of Baltimore to demonstrate its intent to pursue strategies that eliminate global warming emissions and achieve climate neutrality. With this in mind, the Law Center is a highly sustainable and innovative structure that strives to reduce reliance on energy and natural resources, minimizing its dependence on mechanical ventilation and artificial lighting of interiors. This is part of a larger comprehensive effort on the part of the A/E team to approach sustainability from a more holistic vantage point from the outset of the project.” Sustainability Treehouse Glen Jean, West Virginia Design Architect: Mithun; Executive Architect/Architect of Record: BNIM According to the AIA: “Situated in the forest at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, this interactive, interpretive and gathering facility serves as a unique icon of scouting adventure, environmental stewardship and high performance building design. Visitors ascend indoor and outdoor platforms to experience the forest from multiple vantages and engage with educational exhibits that explore the site and ecosystem at the levels of ground, tree canopy and sky. Innovative green building systems—including a 6,450-watt photovoltaic array output, two 4,000-watt wind turbines, and a 1,000-gallon cistern and water cleansing system—combine to yield a net-zero energy and net-zero water facility that touches its site lightly.” The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters Los Altos, California EHDD According to the AIA: “The David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters acts as a catalyst for broad organizational sustainability and brings staff, grantees and partners together to solve the world’s most intractable problems. The Foundation's connection to the Los Altos community dates back to its inception in 1964. For the last two decades, as its grant making programs expanded locally and worldwide, staff and operations have been scattered in buildings throughout the city. This project enhances proximity and collaboration while renewing the Foundation’s commitment to the local community by investing in a downtown project intended to last through the end of 21st century.” U.S. Land Port of Entry Warroad, Minnesota Snow Kreilich Architects According to the AIA: “This LEED Gold certified Land Port of Entry is the first to employ a ground source heat pump system. Sustainably harvested cedar was used on the entire exterior envelope, canopies and some interior walls and 98% of all wood on the project is FSC certified. Additionally 22% of the material content came from recycled materials and 91% of all work areas have access to daylight. Rainwater collection, reconstructed wetlands and native plantings address resource and site-specific responses. The facility proudly supports the mission-driven demands of US Customs and Border Protection while addressing the sustainable challenges of our future.” Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse Grand Junction, Colorado Design Architect, Westlake Reed Leskosky and Architect of Record, The Beck Group According to the AIA: “The LEED® Platinum renovation preserves an anchor in Grand Junction, and converts the 1918 landmark into one of the most energy efficient, sustainable historic buildings in the country. The design aims to be GSA’s first Site Net-Zero Energy facility on the National Register. Exemplifying sustainable preservation, it restores and showcases historic volumes and finishes, while sensitively incorporating innovative systems and drastically reducing energy consumption. Features include a roof canopy-mounted 123 kW photovoltaic array, variable-refrigerant flow heating and cooling systems, 32-well passive Geo-Exchange system, a thermally upgraded enclosure, energy recovery, wireless controls, fluorescent and LED lighting, and post-occupancy monitoring.”
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Minneapolis mayor cheers on Nicollet Mall revamp

As a team of designers gear up for an overhaul of Nicollet Mall, dubbed Minneapolis’ main street, civic leaders there have cheered on the project in an op-ed in the StarTribune. Mayor Betsy Hodges and Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, write of the plan to revamp 12 blocks of pedestrian and public transit thoroughfare:
Never before has the need to leverage the mall as “the” public square providing space for a range of users been more apparent. This is our opportunity to elevate our offerings to ensure we can compete with other cities for tourism dollars, remain home to corporate headquarters, continue to grow the city, and attract new generations of families and employees while developing a space that will serve generations to come.
Minneapolis lacks a visible tourist magnet, they write, like Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Boston’s Newbury Street or Beale Street in Memphis. New York–based James Corner Field Operations won a design competition last year for a plan draw up with local firms Julie Snow Architects and Coen+Partners. As Hodges and Cramer write, Nicollet Mall was originally built in 1968, just as many Twin Cities residents were flocking to the suburbs. Now, with some of that momentum bending back to downtown, the op-ed authors and others are hoping to capture some of the economic impact of projects like New York’s High Line, which was also designed by James Corner Field Operations. What does this mean for the rest of downtown Minneapolis? Hodges and Cramer say the public-private partnership model that built the mall almost 50 years ago should be revived to ensure that the Twin Cities “take this opportunity to further enhance downtown.”