National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Downtown - North Loop - Mill District - Elliot Park - Loring Park
ztr421
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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby ztr421 » November 17th, 2015, 12:10 pm

seanrichardryan wrote:Oh look, a 'whimsical' art piece.
The art piece also seems to make noise. I walked by a few weeks ago and the wall near it was humming various sounds. I don't think it was music..

There are parts of this building that have turned out better than I feared. The line of light above the 3rd floor, the cornice... they're not great, but they break up the monotony.

However, I dislike the brickwork. The stacked pattern (instead of a staggered stacking) reminds me too much of the old Atari game Breakout (although with more pattern to the horizontal lines...).

Image

Drizzay
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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby Drizzay » November 17th, 2015, 2:36 pm

I kinda like it. It is a nice in-fill building.

robotlollipop
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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby robotlollipop » November 17th, 2015, 3:19 pm

I don't mind the building but that curve with the grass bugs me a bit, looks very suburban.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby mamundsen » November 17th, 2015, 3:39 pm

robotlollipop wrote:I don't mind the building but that curve with the grass bugs me a bit, looks very suburban.
Are you talking about across the street next to the new train station? That is set to be a 10 story office building. Topic is here: https://forum.streets.mn/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=58
Target Field Station Development/United Properties:A 10-story, very attractive proposal was presented for office and retail space; expected to break ground in March or April of 2016; United Properties will continue to update the Committee; A motion is made (DJ), seconded (Brent), and approved by the Board to support the Target Field Station Development as proposed.
http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5 ... inutes.pdf

amiller92
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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby amiller92 » November 17th, 2015, 3:49 pm

mamundsen wrote: Are you talking about across the street next to the new train station?
I think he means the curved facade and little crescent shaped strip of grass on the 5th St. side of the building.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby Wedgeguy » November 17th, 2015, 5:43 pm

Funny, that curve part with the Limestone and curved glass are the best parts of the building to me. The entry is fine too I guess.

robotlollipop
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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby robotlollipop » November 17th, 2015, 6:35 pm

amiller92 wrote:
mamundsen wrote: Are you talking about across the street next to the new train station?
I think he means the curved facade and little crescent shaped strip of grass on the 5th St. side of the building.
Yes, that's what I was referring to, sorry for not being more clear. My comment is based off of the pictures, unfortunately I won't be able to see this in person until Christmas time. Maybe it's because I'm in Los Angeles but random grass seems odd to me and I hate seeing it out here.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby Archiapolis » November 18th, 2015, 12:45 pm

MNdible wrote:Look, I'm not in love with this building either, but seriously -- we get it, you don't like it. Which isn't shocking, because by my recollection, you haven't liked a single thing that's been proposed or built in the entire time you've been active on the forum. And it's the fault of the architects, and the developers, and the city.
I’m sorry that I’ve offended you. Obviously you don’t think too highly of my opinions but I will say that your “recollection” isn’t perfect regarding what I like. There is plenty that I like/have liked but I’m probably not vocal enough about it - I am open to that criticism.

I’m an idealist to a fault - emphasis on fault. This isn’t an implication that I’m a great architect or that anything that I’ve done is significant/good. I just really want Minneapolis to be a beautiful place to live/work/play. Being an idealist isn’t always pragmatic and sometimes pragmatism is necessary/more useful than idealism - I am open to this criticism as well.

I’m also very passionate and passion combined with idealism is a difficult mixture - I fight pretty hard for outcomes that I think are “better” and I argue strongly for those outcomes. I don’t make judgments about people or make ad hominem attacks - I have worked with a lot of people who are pouring a lot of energy into these buildings and I have the greatest respect for them. I’ve been burned on this forum before when my position was poorly supported (see the transportation threads). I also try to back my opinions with solid support. Saying, “this building sucks” without support is useless and pointless. Lastly, you understand that the entire point of a forum like this is to offer opinions right? You understand that someone could come along and say, “This building uses the classic ‘ribbon window’ first espoused by Le Corbusier in the international style to great effect…” and that they are welcome to that opinion. Then, a spirited but respectful discussion *could* take place with support from both sides and we both walk away having passionately discussed the state of architecture in the North Loop/Minneapolis/the world.

I don’t necessarily offer opinions because I think they are perfect. Many times, I’d love to hear someone take up the opposite opinion.

A position that I WON’T back down from: criticizing the oft used notion that a project is “better than a surface parking lot.”

As I’ve said on multiple threads, there is a gradient that starts somewhere around an abattoir and ends at the theoretical greatest building ever designed/built. I’d put a surface parking lot somewhere between the midpoint of this gradient and the abattoir. So, saying that a building is “better than a surface parking lot” may be meaningful to someone but it shouldn’t be used as praise for a building project. You and I obviously have different priorities and that is okay with me. If you (or anyone else) said, “The added density is great despite the marginal quality of the building” or, “These offices are going to have a lot of people spilling out into the north loop and populating the streets and shops which is great”, I’d agree with those sentiments but that is NEARLY the lowest bar for a building - to add people to a place. For the record, I absolutely support and applaud density. Lastly, does it *really* need to be pointed out on this forum that more density/more people is a good thing? Is this news to anyone? I take density/people as a given with a new project and skip right to the built form. If there is something new to be gleaned from the painfully obvious comment that a building that (presumably) has people in it is better than a surface parking lot which generally doesn’t have people in it, then I’m listening.

MNdible wrote: …And it's the fault of the architects, and the developers, and the city.
Some architects don’t care, won’t fight for an excellent outcome or just do shitty work - there is a spectrum just like other professions. However, I’m not in other professions so I don’t care about those. Like I said, I’ve done nothing of significance but I fight for outcomes that I think are the best and so do most of the people that I know and respect. As for the developers, I have first hand experience of sitting in rooms with developers, financiers, etc and there are good developers and bad ones. I have decried the “rendering v built” phenomenon that I think is harmful to the city. When a 25’ tree is shown on a rooftop with vines growing over the parapet and the reality is a 3’ x 3’ planter with Karl Foerster grass sticking out, I think that isn’t fair to the city. Other people have argued on threads that “Everybody knows that renderings aren’t meant to represent reality and that these are all just place holders.” My response is this, “Then why show anything at all? Why not just show a building massing for height/scale/etc and leave it at that? Why show people? Plantings? Materials? If everyone KNOWS that the building will have windows and “architecture” and stuff then why go through the time/effort/expense of renderings? It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out but developers want to get their projects approved and showing a building in the best possible way (regardless of reality) is their only desire. Period. End of story. I have now laid out (again) my reasoning for why I think the current approval process can be manipulated to a developers advantage if the city doesn’t push back and tried to offer support. Feel free to argue the other side and support it.

Having sat in front of a computer executing renderings I can report that you have the control to make a tree that is 15’ or a tree that is 40’ and that doing one or the other is a choice. Does it look better to show a 3’ urban planting boulevard with beautiful, tall trees with a full canopy or a scrubby 18’ foot tree that doesn’t have the soil available to thrive? Newsflash - the ability to create photorealistic renderings exists. If the rendering uses a beautiful terra cotta norman brick, with manganese “ironspots” and raked mortar joints somebody made that choice to use that material in the rendering and they are fully aware of the quality difference between that and modular red brick. These kinds of choices and this level of control can be extrapolated to every single thing that you see in a rendering (including street trees, vines, etc).

My problem with the city’s approach is that a building gets approved BEFORE “value engineering” has happened and the built project is never as shiny/beautiful as the rendering that took several liberties to get approved. It is my OPINION that there should be more accountability on this phenomenon. Other people are welcome to their own opinion on the matter (as allowed by the admins).

Last point on “the city”…several municipalities have material guidelines that I think are more sensible/useful than the city of Minneapolis that assure that quality building materials are used. I will allow that it is a complex thing to govern but I think it is worth trying.

MNdible wrote: "We should expect better." OK, that and $20m will get you a six story stick frame apartment building.
I’m not sure what this statement means. Six story stick frame apartments are not inherently bad - like all building projects, they are dependent on a good architect, developer and a municipality.

Thanks for caring about buildings/architecture.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby MNdible » November 18th, 2015, 1:47 pm

You certainly haven't offended me, and I'm not trying to limit your ability to offer criticism. As I said, I agree with many of the things you raise.

My issue is that non-constructive criticism isn't helpful, and also tends to get repetitive fast. You're obviously very aware of how the whole process works, and you understand the hows and whys of how a project gets whittled away at. So, in a case like this building, where a non-profit on a budget partners up with a developer and the architect needs to hit a budget... who's really at fault when the result is less than spectacular? And how do we change the process and the expectations to get better results?

I agree that the "better than a parking lot" schtick is pretty weak, but in this case, even though I think the architectural merits of this building are "meh" at best, I'd argue that not only is it better than a parking lot, but it's better than a whole host of things that could have gone there. In spite of its uninspiring architecture, it's a very solid addition to the neighborhood. Is it great architecture that will thrill us? No, unfortunately it is not. But it's also not committing any grave architectural sins.
Archiapolis wrote:You and I obviously have different priorities and that is okay with me.
I don't think that we do have different priorities. I think we'd like to see the very same things. You're disappointed that the quality of design and execution isn't higher, so am I. In fact, I spent a fair amount of time defending the value of architectural criticism in another thread somewhere around here.

But. At this point, how does good design manage to come out of the process? I can think of three ways:

1. You have an owner who appreciates the value of outstanding design, and is willing to pay for it. These owners are apparently in short supply.

2. You have a very skilled architect, who is able to work within the system to push forward great design while not burning so much fee that they go out of business. These architects are apparently in short supply.

3. You have a city that somehow mandates "good design" and they have a commission of enlightened individuals who will reject anything not meeting their standards. This seems like a pretty sketchy way forward. But if you've got specific recommendations on how to improve the city's material guidelines, I'd love to hear them. Really.

Anyway. To get back my original point, if you want to elevate the level of architectural discourse on the site, I think it would be helpful to hear from you the things that you appreciate about projects (even if you don't like everything about the project). Since none of these projects are going to be the greatest building ever, and we've stopped building abattoirs in the city, let's talk about what seems to be working well along with what's not.

And I think the rendering issue is a red herring to this conversation.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby Archiapolis » November 19th, 2015, 10:27 am

MNdible wrote:You certainly haven't offended me, and I'm not trying to limit your ability to offer criticism. As I said, I agree with many of the things you raise.

My issue is that non-constructive criticism isn't helpful, and also tends to get repetitive fast.


Thanks for the reply.

I’m trying not to get defensive here, I’ll do my best…to me, “non-constructive criticism” would be saying things like, “This sucks”, “This building is terrible”, “Awful”, etc without offering support for the opinion. I’d ask you to suspend your disbelief for a moment and consider the possibility that there are posts where I do support my positions and, in turn, I will allow that there are instances where I’ve offered short/useless/unsupported criticism.

There are several examples around this forum where I’ve offered support but one comes to mind that I think illustrates my point.

The Brunsfield:
I think this is a good building. Snow-Kreilich is a great firm. There are many people working at Snow-Kreilich that I like and respect. They have won many awards. They have achieved something in this profession and I have not (please don’t confuse this with false modesty/flattery, I say what I mean and I mean what I say). I applauded this developer for sacrificing rentable area by creating double-height retail and going another step to sacrifice rentable area by carving out amenity space at the ground level that engages with the street. For all I know, this was proposed by the architects and the developer jumped on board with the idea even though it was financially detrimental (which would make it even better on all sides). As you rightly pointed out in your original post, it is HUGELY important to have owners/developers willing to do something creative and in the case of the Brunsfield, it is apparent.

With all of that said, I made the claim that the building was designed “from the outside in”, I then made screenshots of the unit plans with notes and diagrams to support what I was saying. This building won awards and I’d wager that none of the design jury set foot in a dwelling unit. From the exterior, this is a GREAT building. The outdoor amenity space is great, the retail space is really good, the balconies try to do something different (and succeed) and the lobby is good. The units aren’t good.

I would argue that some people bring their own issues to the table and their take away from the above would be, “This building isn’t good.”

I’m sure I have given one word criticisms here and there but, for the most part, I try to offer support. I’ve been challenged when offering a terse opinion and I’ve supported the opinion in a follow-up.

I think two things are at work here.

1. Architects are critical and don’t offer enough praise (guilty). I’m working on it.

2. What others see as harsh criticism, we see as basic criticism and not harsh in the slightest. I’ve pointed out on other threads that we are TRAINED to be critical from (literally) day one. It is impossible to turn off. The way that we talk about projects/turn a phrase is easier to modulate. I’m working on it.

3. People hear/interpret what they want to hear/interpret. I try to stay away from extremes but if I ever did get into a harsh criticism, I feel like I’d be sure to support it. I wish people would hold themselves to the same standard before they offer “Better than a surface parking lot!”
MNdible wrote:You're obviously very aware of how the whole process works, and you understand the hows and whys of how a project gets whittled away at. So, in a case like this building, where a non-profit on a budget partners up with a developer and the architect needs to hit a budget... who's really at fault when the result is less than spectacular? And how do we change the process and the expectations to get better results?
Ha. Well, I think you know my answer, “the client, the developer, the architect and the city” are at fault but to be more specific, I’ve NEVER been in a room where an architect said, “let’s use this crappier material.” Owners generally don’t want to use lower quality materials (unless they are also the developers) so the greatest share of the “fault” lies with the developer and a compliant city. More on this below…
MNdible wrote: I agree that the "better than a parking lot" schtick is pretty weak, but in this case, even though I think the architectural merits of this building are "meh" at best, I'd argue that not only is it better than a parking lot, but it's better than a whole host of things that could have gone there. In spite of its uninspiring architecture, it's a very solid addition to the neighborhood. Is it great architecture that will thrill us? No, unfortunately it is not. But it's also not committing any grave architectural sins.
We diverge a bit here. I think you are responding to the size/use/capacity to contain inhabitants which are all good but I think comparing it to its former use or some other bad use is a low bar. Not that the market will be there forever but, for example, would housing here be a better use? Day AND night activity, potential for retail/restaurant that is convenient to the stadium. You seem to have a low opinion of “5 over 1” housing which is fine but strictly as a use, it would have merit would it not? Perhaps you think that the “5 over 1” architecture happening right now would be worse architecturally than this building. That would be an interesting argument to take up. I’d offer that Junction Flats has a worse site and really appeared to try to do *something*, I’d offer that it has more architectural merit than this building and to put something like that on this site would be better than the bland suburbanism on display. Here is where the “argument” should be fun because it’s all subjective!

I’m all for a mix of uses in this area, but offices are going to be built, I want them to be great! I have high hopes for the Hines site which looks great in the renderings BTW.
Archiapolis wrote:You and I obviously have different priorities and that is okay with me.
MNdible wrote: But. At this point, how does good design manage to come out of the process? I can think of three ways:

1. You have an owner who appreciates the value of outstanding design, and is willing to pay for it. These owners are apparently in short supply.

Agreed. This is THE most important factor but I’d go one step further and say that developers need to be held accountable for squeezing every last nickel out of a project.
MNdible wrote:2. You have a very skilled architect, who is able to work within the system to push forward great design while not burning so much fee that they go out of business. These architects are apparently in short supply.


I’ll defend my discipline here and say that these might be in greater supply than you think, fee is less of a problem and that the VE process tends to have a crushing effect.
MNdible wrote:3. You have a city that somehow mandates "good design" and they have a commission of enlightened individuals who will reject anything not meeting their standards. This seems like a pretty sketchy way forward. But if you've got specific recommendations on how to improve the city's material guidelines, I'd love to hear them. Really.
This is already WAY too long so I’m not going to dive deeply into this but let’s just say that material guidelines could go a long way toward improving the state of architecture. St. Louis Park for example has mandates that involve materials that they consider Class I, Class II and Class III. These materials are allowed in certain percentage per facade. As materials/technology change it should be easy for materials to be added to the different classes. Minneapolis’s system isn’t as good. Period. There are ways to govern outcomes without a “design commission” and the subjectivity that comes with them.
MNdible wrote:Anyway. To get back my original point, if you want to elevate the level of architectural discourse on the site, I think it would be helpful to hear from you the things that you appreciate about projects (even if you don't like everything about the project). Since none of these projects are going to be the greatest building ever, and we've stopped building abattoirs in the city, let's talk about what seems to be working well along with what's not.
See my item number one above; I’m working on offering more praise.
MNdible wrote:And I think the rendering issue is a red herring to this conversation.
This is the only thing that I’m offended by in your reply. A “red herring” is a logical fallacy intended to mislead. I think it this point is absolutely germane - when a team displays a rendering that shows an ideal that does not represent reality, I think that is unfair to the end user (“the city”/us). I talked about how easy it is to manipulate materials and the intent that goes into it. I am very confident that if there was a way to sort comments from this forum for the words, “flat”, “disappointed”, “not up to par” etc we would find that they are criticisms leveled at built projects that didn’t come anywhere near the renderings. MOST IMPORTANTLY, the fact that misleading renderings were used to get a project approved BEFORE the VE process is a major component to what makes the city’s job very hard. Lastly, the city should be going out on site, holding up the APPROVED rendering from the same vantage point and discussing what changed. When the developer next brings a project to the city, this discussion is exhibit number one. I think this is ABSOLUTELY critical to getting good outcomes in the future.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby MNdible » November 19th, 2015, 11:26 am

Archiapolis wrote:This is the only thing that I’m offended by in your reply. A “red herring” is a logical fallacy intended to mislead.
By red herring, I just mean that I see it as being somewhat of a distraction to the main issue we were discussing. I don't think you're wrong that renderings are a sticky issue, and it's an issue that would be interesting to discuss more. I just don't see it as being a primary driver in design quality -- the city's approval isn't really based on the renderings, but rather on site plans, elevations, etc. Material substitutions at VE are yet another issue, but again -- as long as the new materials are still compliant with the city's regs, you have to ask (and the developers may well ask at an administrative level) if the changes to materials really would have affected the approval of the project.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby Archiapolis » November 19th, 2015, 11:51 am

MNdible wrote:
Archiapolis wrote:This is the only thing that I’m offended by in your reply. A “red herring” is a logical fallacy intended to mislead.
By red herring, I just mean that I see it as being somewhat of a distraction to the main issue we were discussing. I don't think you're wrong that renderings are a sticky issue, and it's an issue that would be interesting to discuss more. I just don't see it as being a primary driver in design quality -- the city's approval isn't really based on the renderings, but rather on site plans, elevations, etc. Material substitutions at VE are yet another issue, but again -- as long as the new materials are still compliant with the city's regs, you have to ask (and the developers may well ask at an administrative level) if the changes to materials really would have affected the approval of the project.
Fair enough. We can argue (in the Greek sense please) about the specifics above.

Thanks for engaging.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby grant1simons2 » December 4th, 2015, 3:21 pm

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/b ... -sold.html

Building is sold for $68.2 Million to State Farm. Technically Transwestern.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby MNdible » March 3rd, 2016, 1:00 pm

Puff piece on the restaurant in this building, which is apparently open to the public. Has anybody checked it out? Looks like a nice space.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby seanrichardryan » March 3rd, 2016, 4:55 pm

Those pay for play articles bug me, but Norton needs to eat I guess.
Q. What, what? A. In da butt.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby ztr421 » March 16th, 2016, 11:36 am

The article mentions the restaurant adding bar service, and their application for a liquor license is going forward. One of the neighboring buildings had a notice posted for a public hearing on March 22. They'll add alcohol and be open on Sundays - they'll probably do well on Twins game days.

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Re: National Marrow Donor Program HQ - 524 5th Street North

Postby Wedgeguy » March 16th, 2016, 9:34 pm

ztr421 wrote:The article mentions the restaurant adding bar service, and their application for a liquor license is going forward. One of the neighboring buildings had a notice posted for a public hearing on March 22. They'll add alcohol and be open on Sundays - they'll probably do well on Twins game days.
They finally have enough residents to make a Sunday open worth their time. Games days is a for sure easy win. All they had to do is look down the block at the Fulton and see what kind of crowds they were attracting.. Plus the very short walk to the ballpark. They may want to wait on the Sunday's until after the 6th street rebuild is done for the Sunday opens.


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