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Modern Transformation


A downtown Minneapolis development gets a modern facelift

Mayo Clinic Square, 2016 Metal Construction Building and Roofing Awards

The world-renowned Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic partnered with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx to redevelop an old and outdated building in a highly desirable location in downtown Minneapolis. Formerly known as the Block E retail complex, the $50 million facelift gave the building a "Minneapolis modern" aesthetic, keeping with other contemporary downtown buildings. Now known as Mayo Clinic Square, the 300,000-square-foot building was transformed into a high-energy, modern, elegant and safe urban destination. The project's use of metal wall panels caught our judge's attention, and was awarded the winner for the Retrofit Metal Wall Panels in the 2016 Metal Construction News Building and Roofing Awards.


Mayo Clinic Square, 2016 Metal Construction News Building and Roofing AwardsRenovation Goals

As part of the renovation, Mayo Clinic opened a 20,000-square-foot sports medicine facility on the third floor, which anchors the building. Mayo Clinic Square offers sports medicine services and skill programs for elite and amateur athletes, as well as administrative offices and a practice facility for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx basketball teams. Completed in May 2015, Minneapolis-based RSP Architects led the building's exterior renovation and interior common spaces. Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis, was the general contractor, and MG McGrath Architectural Surfaces, Maplewood, Minn., was the metal fabricator and installer.

"Rather than demolishing and rebuilding, the project team worked together to successfully renovate the existing building into one that met the expectations of functionality, aesthetic, comfort and environmental performance at a lower cost," says Jono Semlak, project manager at MG McGrath. "The project team was committed to the quality of the project and stressed the importance of collaboration from the very start in order to eliminate common coordination issues and to ensure that the project was completed on time and within budget."

Scott Steinkamp, LEED AP, senior associate at RSP Architects, says the goal was to completely transform the existing enclosed, superblock structure by opening the building up to become a vibrant, legible, positive contributor to downtown Minneapolis. "We achieved these goals by reimaging the façade so it aligned within an urban context, as well as improving the interior navigation so the building became a vital connector between the central business and entertainment districts," he explains. "The exterior pedestrian environment was improved by increasing the visibility into and out of the building through the use of glass, as well as providing canopies and well-lit pathways. By connecting the existing orphaned entries to the building with a light-filled, two-story atrium space, the building became a much more legible and safe place for public interaction."


Multiple Materials

RSP Architects chose a variety of materials for the building renovation, including various panel configurations and colors of metal to achieve the desired aesthetic. For the exterior, Steinkamp says a major design move was to create a performative weave of materials--glass, stone, metal panel and scrim--which allowed the façade to respond to the different needs of the users while creating a cohesive composition on all four sides of the building. "The simplification of the exterior materials aligns the building within its context, activating the street level while remaining legible at the larger, urban scale."

Steinkamp explains that they wanted to activate the façade through materials and light, since it's in the heart of the downtown entertainment district. "We did this through the weave of different materials as well as using variation within each material to create a sense of movement and excitement," he explains.

Mayo Clinic Square, 2016 Metal Construction News Building and Roofing AwardsWhite aluminum composite material panels from Arconic Architectural Products USA (formerly Alcoa Architectural Products Inc.), Eastman, Ga., were used at the canopies and parapet extensions, which Steinkamp says reinforced the horizontal lines and organized the building into different zones. "The canopies created an outdoor room for pedestrians and the parapet extensions created a termination point for the building," he adds.

Dark gray anodized aluminum panels from Holland, Mich.-based Dri-Design were used on large areas of the façade, which Steinkamp says helped increase the building's sense of scale, helping it to fit within the urban context. "The color variation of these panels was achieved through a custom anodizing process using different metal alloys," he notes. "The result is a variegated composition that creates interest, but is not too overpowering."

Perforated aluminum scrim panels from Alabama Metal Industries Corp. (AMICO), Birmingham, Ala., extend the corners of the building as well as provide an armature for animating the façade at night through the use of color-changing LED accent lighting.


Exterior Graphics

The exterior of the building features a larger-than-life Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx graphics, that Semlak says was achieved by using RSP Architects' design and transferring it to the metal panels of the façade by varying the size, location and density of the perforations, creating various areas of light and dark to form an image.

Steinkamp says the perforated pattern on the scrim needed to perform in two ways, by letting filtered daylight into the second and third-story office spaces, which required it to be more opened, as well as being lit at night, which required it to be more opaque. "The pattern was chosen to allow for both of these functions," he explains. "The Timberwolves and Lynx patterns were done as a way to include additional signage on the building in a subtle way that would integrate within the architecture of the building. It was accomplished by superimposing the logos on to the perforated panels and then adjusting the hole pattern accordingly."


Mayo Clinic Square, Minneapolis
May 2015
Total square feet: 300,000 square feet
Building owner: Camelot LLC, Plymouth, Minn.
General contractor: Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis,
Architect: RSP Architects, Minneapolis,
Fabricator/installer: MG McGrath Architectural Surfaces, Maplewood, Minn.,
Cement panels: TAKTL, Turtle Creek, Pa.,
Cladding panels: GFRC Cladding, Garland, Texas,
Aluminum composite panels: Reynobond by Arconic Architectural Products USA (formerly Alcoa Architectural Products Inc.), Eastman, Ga.,
Metal wall panels: Dri-Design, Holland, Mich., and Petersen Aluminum Corp., Elk Grove Village, Ill.,
Scrim: Alabama Metal Industries Corp. (AMICO), Birmingham, Ala.,