Water Works Pavilion

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contractor:Northland Concrete & Masonry Co. | H+U Construction
Architect:HGA Architects and Engineers

Water Works is a transformative park development project overlooking St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge that will bring significant new historic, cultural, and recreational amenities to one of the most iconic locations in Minneapolis and the region.

Wells erected the precast arched entrance of the Water Works Pavilion, which will greet visitors who travel along the West River Parkway and those who enter the building from the General Mills Plaza.  The elegant entryway is just one of many aspects of this park site that will grace our riverfront and be enjoyed by all.  Forming the main entry to the pavilion from the future General Mills Plaza, the arch is immediately striking, even to the untrained eye. But look closely and you’ll begin to see that its harmonious design is in fact a skilled blending of disparate visual notes represented by the Columbia Mill and Bassett Mill remnants into which the building is being embedded.

Wells provided some unique high-quality finishes to match the transformative vision of this project.  It is amazing what happens when you start to push and pull concrete and turn it into something timeliness and distinctive.  Wells provided hollowcore for this project in addition to 31 pieces of architectural wall panels for the arch of this park entrance.

Because the old mills were constructed at different times of different materials “the entire riverfront façade had really interesting rhythms of arches moving up and down,” says Michael Hara, Project Designer at HGA. “A lot of design thinking went into the new entryway arch – it was something that we studied very carefully and rigorously.”

The team used advanced parametric and virtual reality tools that allowed them to look at dozens of design iterations. They landed on an approach that established balance by embracing the inherent asymmetry between the adjoining mill remnants.

“Bricks on the left side of the arch are tighter together and as they move across the arch to the right side, they are farther apart. This became the driver for the composition of the whole façade, including locating the door off-center, where traditionally it’s positioned in the middle,” says Hara.

For more information on this project, please contact Jace Rossow.