Transportation & Aviation

Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s loading dock, Minneapolis

Photo: Steve Bergerson,

Miller Dunwiddie Architecture designed Minneapolis- St. Paul Airport’s consolidated loading dock as an isolated building between runways. The loading dock is accessed via a new roadway and tunnel.

Philip Koski, AIA, project designer at Miller Dunwiddie Architecture, says, “This is a new building type that’s trying to address increasing security concerns and the difficulty of combining traffic types.”

Airport design guidelines called for a visual connection between the new loading dock structure and others in place. In general, the guidelines identified precast concrete construction with horizontal, corrugated metal panels finished in a specific aged-copper color.

“The idea was to have a range of colors that, if you stood back and squinted, it would look natural, like a green tree canopy,” says Koski.

To produce the randomized color pattern, Dan Schwartz, project manager and drafting director at Progressive Building Systems Ltd., says he ran the architects’ four selected finishes through a color-randomizer app. It was challenging to create the desired appearance at building corners, where the design called for tiles to appear to wrap around bends, he says. The architects wanted the panels on the corners to match. But carrying that color around a corner forced the randomizer app to create an entirely new series. This meant that determining the final arrangement became an iterative process.

Progressive Building Systems Ltd. installed 7,000 square feet of Petersen Aluminum Corp.’s 24-gauge steel Precision Series Tiles with a cupped profile in four Kynar Fluoropon colors: custom Aged Copper, Arcadia Green, Hemlock Green and Patina Green. Progressive Building Systems also installed overhang soffit panels with four-sided reveals, and fabricated trim.

Lauren Fleming, AIA, project architect for the job at Miller Dunwiddie Architecture, says, “It seems like the design intent for these buildings is to make them go away. And this is very noticeable, in a good way, like somebody really took care.”