9 Ways to Celebrate Architecture this Spring

April 15th, 2015
Downtown Minneapolis
From historic architecture tours to pub crawls, Minneapolis has plenty of events to offer this spring. | Photo: m01229, via Creative Commons. http://bit.ly/1JLgYYv

It’s National Architecture Week, but why limit the celebration to just seven days? 
Here are nine great ways to expand your architectural horizons this spring in three major cities — which also happen to be home to our offices.


  • Spring & Summer: Explore with Preserve Minneapolis | Preserve Minneapolis is a local preservationist group that offers tours, events, and regular Happy Hours with a Preservationist. Their events often offer behind-the-scenes looks at ongoing renovations and restorations.
  • May 11: Tour the new St. Paul Saints Stadium | Are you a fan of both baseball and architecture? Get a first look at the brand new CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints. The stadium is located in historic Lowertown St. Paul, and visitors will see how the ballpark really works, from the kitchens to locker rooms and batting cages.
  • June 2: Minneapolis History Pub Crawl | Visit historic buildings and learn about the city’s architectural & social history while enjoying a drink (or two) with the Minnesota Historical Society.
Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
Take a CAF River Cruise this summer. | Photo: Bert Kaufmann, shared via Creative Commons. (http://bit.ly/1EHQBmq)


  • April 28: Head to the Canstruction Chicago Interested Teams Meeting | Test your architectural mettle (or should we say “metal”?) at this unique charity opportunity. Canstruction hosts events around the world to showcase giant structures made entirely out of canned food.

    Grab your coworkers and head to the Canstruction Team Meeting on April 28.
    Grab your coworkers and head to the Canstruction Interested Team Meeting on April 28. | Photo: http://bit.ly/1GLDWQX
  • Spring & Summer: Take a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise | The Windy City is famous for both its storied architects and its diverse collection of significant buildings. Float down the Chicago River as CAF-certified docents lead you on a guided trip through the city’s rich architectural history.
  • May 9: Join the CAF Scavenger Hunt | Grab your friends and follow the clues around the Loop to discover Chicago’s architecture in a unique and exciting way. $35 ($25 for CAF members) gets you a Divvy bikeshare pass, a Scavenger Hunt t-shirt, a Goose Island beer or soft drink, and Garrett’s Popcorn.
    • The Grand Prize includes a one-night stay in downtown Chicago during Open House Chicago weekend, plus a CAF membership, Goose Island beer, and more!
    • Register here. 
National Building Museum, Washington DC | Photo Phil Roeder , shared via Creative Commons license. (http://bit.ly/1DjWnYZ)
Don’t miss the National Building Museum in Washington DC | Photo: Phil Roeder, shared via Creative Commons. (http://bit.ly/1DjWnYZ)

Washington DC

  • April 23: Tour the Tudor Place Historic House & Garden | April 23 – 29 is AIA DC’s Architecture Week, and they’re putting on a plethora of events in the metro area. Sign up for the Tudor Place tour (home to six of Martha Washington’s descendants) for your chance to get up close to a gorgeous example of Federal-period architecture and artifacts.

BKV Group at the 9th Annual Skyway Open

March 6th, 2015
Don’t miss Mall Ball, BKV Group’s hole at the 2015 Skyway Open!

The 2015 Skyway Open is in full swing in downtown Minneapolis! This annual event benefits The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and features custom mini golf holes designed by local businesses and organizations. This year, teams of golfers can try their luck at 15 unique holes, including BKV Group’s pinball-inspired creation.

Our team worked overtime to design and build a full-size pinball machine with lights, music, and holes that determine golfers’ scores. (To get a Hole-in-One, for example, golfers must send their ball shooting up the “Skyway.”) The pinball graphics were inspired by both the future Nicollet Mall redesign and the mall’s history as a transit and pedestrian hub. Players can also spot downtown landmarks, from the Mary Tyler Moore statue to the Holidazzle and the Farmer’s Market. Check out the photos below.

Get out to the Skyways this weekend to show your support for the Boys and Girls Clubs — and show off your mini golf game while you’re at it. Visit the Skyway Open website for schedule and details. IMG_2122

IMG_2141 (more…)

Schmidt Artist Lofts Featured on Curbed.com

January 1st, 2015
Schmidt Artist Lofts, BKV Group
The Schmidt Artist Lofts are an adaptive reuse of the historic Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Schmidt Artist Lofts were featured on Curbed.com! The article highlights both the brewery’s rich history and the team’s approach to converting the buildings into housing for artists. BKV Group partner Mike Krych. AIA, discusses some of the challenges and opportunities involved with this unique historic building — and how everything finally came together as beautiful and affordable housing.

…when Dominium Group bought the pair of structures for $6.2M in 2012, its plans were to convert the former Schmidt brew house and bottle house into artist live and work spaces. “It was a good avenue to get a collective group of people together that had common goals and interests to create a community,” Krych says. The project benefited from $69.3M in tax-exempt bonds from St. Paul’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority, $4.2M in environmental cleanup funds, and about $70M in low-income and historic tax credits. — Amy Schellenbaum, Curbed.com.

Read the Curbed article here.

About Schmidt Artist Lofts

The adaptive reuse of the historic Schmidt Brewery into artist lofts continues the rich tradition of a 100-year-old neighborhood landmark in the city of St. Paul. It also effectively preserves the Brew House and Bottling House as centerpieces of the newly created Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company Historic District. After five years of planning and design, the team finally began turning the brewery’s 16 acres into the 350,000 sf Schmidt Artist Lofts. The Lofts play an integral part in revitalizing a historic St. Paul neighborhood. The buildings’ finishes, unit types, and amenities are the same as those commonly found in high-end, market-rate developments, but would not typically be affordable to people of low to moderate income. Rental rates are approximately 60-70 percent of the cost of similar market-rate units in the area.


Nicollet Hotel Block Project

December 15th, 2014
A view of the proposed building along Hennepin Avenue.

We’re excited to be part of Doran Companies’ proposal for the Nicollet Hotel Block in downtown Minneapolis! The design intertwines the best of today’s urban lifestyle and includes a glass-clad mixed-use tower, a beautiful transit-oriented plaza, and space for retail, restaurants, and a hotel.

It was a privilege to work with Doran, Investors Real Estate Trust (IRET), and Graves Hospitality to create a proposal that fits the City of Minneapolis’ goal of a modern, flexible, and community-focused urban space that reflects the unique character of the city.

The Nicollet Hotel Block takes its name from the historic Nicollet Hotel, which was built in the early 1900s. Together, the hotel and adjacent Gateway Park once marked the beginning of the Gateway District.  The hotel was demolished in 1991, however, and the property currently holds a surface parking lot.

The Gateway District has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity, making the Nicollet Hotel Block a prime spot for a pivotal project. City planners hope to transform the underused block into a new cultural, transit, and event hub. Their design requirements included a building of at least 20 stories, a plaza/outdoor space, and room for retail and a hotel.

This development will complement the upcoming Nicollet Mall redesign and the proposed modern streetcar line, and it will also blend with the Mall’s green space plans.

BKV Group renderings of Nicollet Hotel Block, Minneapolis
A bird’s eye view of the block.
The plaza from street level.

Two BKV Group Projects Make “Top 10 in 2015″ List

December 12th, 2014
A-Mill Artist Lofts, Minneapolis, Minnesota
A-Mill Artist Lofts, a BKV Group adaptive reuse project in Minneapolis.

Two BKV projects have been featured in The Line’s “10 Development Projects That Will Transform Minneapolis in 2015”! Our transit-oriented Lake & Hiawatha project and the A-Mill Artist Lofts both made the list.

A-Mill Artist Lofts

Why this project made the list: “…the mill’s adaptive reuse into affordable live-work artist housing—by the developer Dominium Co., with architects from BKV Group—provides a good reason for preservationists to celebrate. The complex will also include studios and performance spaces,” Phillip Koski, The Line.

This project is an exciting opportunity to preserve a Minneapolis landmark while providing affordable housing for artists, which will continue to encourage the Twin Cities’ vibrant arts scene. The site is located at the heart of the former flour capital of the world — in downtown Minneapolis on the East Bank of the Mississippi River.  The anchor of the site is the original Pillsbury A-Mill constructed in 1881 by Charles A Pillsbury.   The building is constructed of Platville limestone and features a distinctive bow of over two feet in both plan and section as a result of poor engineering and the qualities of the stone exterior.   The A-Mill is designated as a National Landmark, and the eight other structures on the site are on the National Register of Historic Places.


The A-Mill Artist Lofts will feature 255 affordable artist housing units along with common art spaces including art galleries, clay studios, painting studios, a photography studio, digital media studios, vocal and instrumental sound booths, dance practice studios, and a performance hall. The plan for the lower level of the A-Mill is a new Interpretive Museum that will tell the story of the complex and the role of water power in milling.  New interventions on the buildings will be done in a way that respects the historic and raw industrial character of the buildings.  Two new primary entrances feature extruded metal volumes that recall industrial chutes found within the buildings and respect the industrial character of the site.


BKV Group Architects Participating in the 2014 AIA Minnesota Convention

November 12th, 2014
Two BKV Group staff members are participating in this year's AIA MN Conference.
Two BKV Group staff members are participating in this year’s AIA MN Conference. Image credit: AIA MN


The 2014 AIA Minnesota Convention is taking place from now until November 14 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This year’s theme is ACCESS EXCELLENCE, and the program centers on sharing the wealth of information within our industry to encourage us to grow as professionals.

This year, two BKV Group staff members are participating in the convention! If you’re attending the conference, be sure to stop by these exciting events.

Engaging the Next Generation of Architects

Gretchen Camp, AIA, Partner & Sustainability Coordinator

We all know millennials have different workplace needs, learning styles, and career goals than previous generations. So what can the architecture industry do to engage new talent? Gretchen is participating in a panel called “Engaging the Next Generation of Architects” (Event 38) to discuss ways to encourage, educate, and retain the next generation of architects. The panel will speak from 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, November 13.

An Architects Stories from the Mill City Museum Construction

John Stark, AIA, Managing Architect

Want to get the inside scoop on one of Minneapolis’ most treasured historic buildings? John is leading a walking tour exclusively for Construction History Society of America members. The tour, called “An Architect’s Stories from the Mill City Museum Construction,” will take you through the construction history and process of rehabilitating the mill ruins along St. Anthony Falls into the popular Mill City Museum. You’ll also get an exclusive glimpse of the A-Mill Artist Lofts, an exciting adaptive reuse of the old Pillsbury A-Mill that’s currently under construction. CHSA members can join John from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13.

See you at the convention!

Rochester’s New Fire Station No. 2 On Track for Completion in 2015

October 23rd, 2014
Rochester, MN Fire Station No. 2, fire stations, fire station design
A rendering of Rochester, MN’s new Fire Station No. 2, which is currently under construction.

Spotted: A BKV Group project in the news! The new Fire Station No. 2 in Rochester, MN is under construction and on track to be completed by early 2015. This station will significantly expand Rochester’s fire fighting operations and provide more space for training and meetings.

Read the full story.

The Rochester Fire Department’s existing Station No. 2 was too small and no longer appropriately located.  The department needed new, up-to-date facilities that would also allow for future growth. After studying the issues and researching the latest design trends, the Rochester Fire Department conducted a national search for a design team.  They selected BKV Group, who teamed with local firms Kane Johnson Architects and civil engineer McGhie Betts. The project is currently in schematic design, aided by advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology.


The Walkway named a Top Project of 2013 by Finance & Commerce

October 13th, 2014
The Walkway in Uptown Minneapolis, designed by BKV Group
The Walkway, a BKV Group project, is a mixed-use apartment complex in Uptown Minneapolis.

The Walkway, a luxury apartment building designed by BKV Group, was named a Top Project of 2013 by Finance & Commerce.  The apartments are located in Minneapolis’ bustling Uptown district, where residents can take advantage of the area’s many restaurants, bars, shops and bike trails.  The Walkway’s top-of-the-line amenities include everything from a concierge and private bar to a decked out “splash deck” and terrace.  Units are finished with sophisticated details like teak cabinets, quartz countertops and hardwood floors — but the building’s most eye-catching detail is a cantilevered, clear-sided hot tub that hangs over the sidewalk below.

Read the full article here.

Finance & Commerce features The Penfield as a Top Project of 2013

August 27th, 2014

The Penfield is one of the first market rate mixed-use projects constructed in downtown Saint Paul in 20 years. The City of Saint Paul stepped in as the developer after initial plans for a condo project went cold and the project couldn’t be developed privately. The project covers an entire city block bounded by 10th, Minnesota, 11th and Robert Streets. With 254 apartment units and a Lunds grocery store on the street level, the transit-oriented development project is located one block from the 10th and Cedar Station of the Green Line LRT. The project is seeking LEED Silver Certification.


Finance and Commerce feature: http://finance-commerce.com/2014/08/top-projects-the-penfield/

View more on Penfield here: http://www.thepenfieldapts.com/


Finance & Commerce features ElseWarehouse as a Top Project of 2013

July 30th, 2014

“ElseWarehouse was a unique opportunity and a unique building,” said Brent Rogers, vice president of Greco Real Estate Development. “It has great components such as large windows, interesting floor plans and unique location in the North Loop, which is just a great neighborhood.”

Greco hired BKV Group for this $30 Million historic renovation. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the building has been renewed with innovative features such as a two-story atria, intimate alcoves for social gathering, and a glass-encased rooftop clubroom and rooftop skypark, providing panoramic views of the Minneapolis skyline.

ElseWarehouse, defines new urban living for the young professional, and redefines the idea of ‘Green building’ by repurposing existing infrastructure to revitalize an urban neighborhood.  ElseWare proves it can be AnyWhere, as a model of creative adaptive reuse for urban place-making and sustainability.

ElseWarehouse exterior entry

The Finance & Commerce article can be found here: