Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis and approaching a century of use, the renovated Baker Center showcases a prominent new building entry at the corner of Marquette Avenue and Eighth Street. This main entrance provides a unified façade for the four buildings that comprise the complex. Delivering both an updated appearance and improved performance for the project, Linetec provided the thermal strut, thermal pour and debridged, plus the clear anodize finish on Tubelite’s aluminum-framed curtainwall and storefront systems.
Modern approach to historic renovation
The Baker Center, owned by The Travelers Companies and managed by Transwestern, boasts more than 1 million square feet of office and retail space. It consists of the Baker Building, Investors Building, Roanoke Building and the 730 Building. The Baker, Roanoke and Investor buildings were built in the 1920s. The 730 Building was completed in 1968. The $25 million renovation continued in phases to minimize distribution to occupants and concluded in July 2017.
“The goal of the design was to honor the historic aspects of the buildings, while creating unique modern spaces to support today’s mobile worker,” stated David Serrano, AIA, a principal with RSP, the architectural firm heading up the design. “The result takes advantage of the art deco bones of the building, while introducing forward-thinking amenities like the concierge desk and rooftop deck.”
To reflect the updated look and performance for this property, Brin Contract Glazing’s team worked closely with the architect, construction manager Hightower Initiatives, general contractor JE Dunn and Tubelite to install the curtainwall. “It was a logistically challenging project,” said Scott Ide, Brin Contract Glazing.
He elaborated, “Each time the demolition team removed a window, you didn’t know what you’d find. The four buildings had been combined over the years into one. With different construction techniques for each, and no existing drawings from the original architects or the many earlier remodeling contractors, drawings and revisions were nonstop throughout the renovation.”
Thermal performance for cold climates
An essential design element in the Baker Center’s renovation was the dramatic corner constructed using Tubelite’s 400TU Therml=Block® Screw Spline Curtainwall, vertically butt-glazed with horizontal covers. Ide noted, “A massive amount of steel was added to properly anchor the curtainwall. It’s the main feature of the building from the fourth to the top floor.”
The lower levels feature Tubelite’s TU24000 Therml=Block dual-pocket, poured-and-debridged storefront on the exterior, and 4500 Series storefront on the interior. Expanded window lines at street level offer a view into the new entry lobby featuring a 60-foot media wall. At the architect’s request, TU24000 Therml=Block storefront also was used for the windows on the upper stories.
Tubelite’s Therml=Block products rely on Linetec to provide the insulating, thermal, polyamide strut and thermal, polyurethane, pour and debridge. Both methods are used to separate the inside and outside metal, which greatly enhances a storefront or curtainwall system’s thermal performance. This thermal break reduces the amount of heat transfer, therefore saving energy and increasing occupant comfort.
“In Minnesota’s cold climates, Tubelite Therml=Block products provide superior energy and condensation resistance performance using multiple thermal barriers, while providing structural integrity and aesthetic flexibility,” explained Mary Avery, Tubelite’s vice president of marketing.
She continued, “Optimizing thermal performance helps lower the load on HVAC systems and reducing associated energy costs, while maintaining a comfortable interior temperature. Reducing condensation can improve a building’s appearance and sanitation, and minimize damage to adjacent building materials.”
Low maintenance, lasting value
Contributing to the Baker Center’s updated, unified façade, Linetec finished all of the curtainwall and storefront systems’ aluminum framing members in a clear anodize. Anodizing is the most durable and longest lasting option for finishing architectural aluminum building products. Because it is an integral part of the aluminum substrate, the anodic coating provides excellent wear and abrasion resistance with minimal maintenance.
Complementing the low-maintenance, durable, thermally broken, high-performance aluminum framing, Tubelite’s curtainwall and storefront was glazed with low-e, low-iron glass with warm edge spacers and argon fill. Within its glass-enclosed comfortable interior, the Baker Center’s top amenity floor sports high-tech, flexible conference room space, a collaborative lounge and concierge services designed to appeal to today’s workforce. There is also an on-site fitness center and rooftop patio with views of the Minneapolis skyline.
The project team modernized the downtown icon, while maintaining some of its history through design elements. “Now that the project’s completed, everybody’s happy with it,” reported Ide. “It’s a better performing building with a dramatically improved look.”
Baker Center, 8th Street and Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402
- Owner: The Travelers Companies, Inc.; New York; https://www.travelers.com
- Property manager: Transwestern®; Houston; https://www.transwestern.com
- Architect: RSP Architects; Minneapolis; https://rsparch.com
- Construction management company: Hightower Initiatives; Minnetonka, Minnesota; https://www.hightowerinitiatives.com
- General contractor: JE Dunn Construction Company; Minneapolis; https://www.jedunn.com
- Glazing contractor: Brin Contract Glazing; Minneapolis; http://www.bringlass.com/brin-contract-glazing
- Glazing systems – finishing and thermal improvement services: Linetec; Wausau, Wisconsin
- Glazing systems – storefront and curtainwall manufacturer: Tubelite Inc.; Walker, Michigan; https://www.tubeliteinc.com
- Photos by: Paul Crosby