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November 2014

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Building Type: College & University

Wausau connects new University of Minnesota Recreation and Wellness Center to greater campus

The University of Minnesota’s expanded Recreation and Wellness Center provides spaces for students and staff to recreate, exercise, and socialize, while enjoying sweeping views of the school’s urban campus. The recently opened building features Wausau Window and Wall Systems’ factory-assembled curtainwall, windows and sun shades.

The $59.7 million, 150,000-square foot addition doubled the size of the existing facility. Created by Studio Five Architects of Minneapolis, in collaboration with the Chicago office of Cannon Design, the building’s wedge-shape design makes the most of the space’s compact triangular site. The design also includes a façade of brick, limestone and generous amounts of glass to provide natural light to the building users and continuity to the larger University of Minnesota campus.

To accomplish the design and daylighting goals, Minneapolis-based general contractor JE Dunn Construction worked closely with glazing contractor W. L. Hall Company of Hopkins, Minnesota. The building’s multi-radius curved front capitalizes on Wausau’s high-performance curtainwall and windows, allowing natural light to deeply penetrate into all five stories of the building’s interior spaces. The Recreation Center’s entry level also features a gradual stepping-up of the floor to allow daylight to reach as far as possible into the lower levels.

In total, W. L. Hall installed approximately 42,000 square feet of Wausau’s structurally glazed SuperWall™ curtainwall system and Clear Story™ sun shades across three of the building’s four façades. Clear Story exterior sun shades add to energy efficiencies by intercepting unwanted solar heat gain before it can impact a building’s HVAC system’s load. Sun shades economize natural light by redirecting further into a building’s interior spaces.

“Wausau’s experience in metal fabrication was crucial to the sun shade’s design,” said Craig Johnson, Project Manager, W. L. Hall Co. “Some of the blade profiles were 15 inches long and required developing a custom die to accommodate the large size. Not many companies would be able to successfully deliver such an unusual order, but Wausau not only met our expectations, they exceeded them.”

W.L. Hall also installed 30 of Wausau's 4250 Series zero sightline fixed casement windows in the building’s second, third and fourth floor office areas. The 4250 Series features VE1-2M, insulated glass fabricated by Viracon. Viracon silk-screened the panes in two different patterns as a design element and for improved performance. Silk-screened glass improves solar control performance and can be combined with clear or tinted glass substrates, as well as with high-performance coatings to reduce glare and decrease solar transmission.

Wausau’s casements, curtainwall and sun shades also are manufactured using recycled aluminum that contains at least 70 percent total recycled content. Linetec finished the window systems’ exposed aluminum framing using a durable 70 percent PVDF resin-based coating in a Chestnut Ridge Gray color. These high-performance architectural coatings meet the most stringent, exterior, architectural specification, American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s AAMA-2605.

“Working with Wausau was a great experience,” said Johnson. “We chose their products because we had worked with them before and knew they could deliver on time and on budget, and as this was a fast-track project, we needed a partner we could rely on to get the job done.”

Located on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank Campus, the Recreation and Wellness Center serves more than 6,000 people on an average weekday during the academic year. The student recreation center expansion includes fitness areas for cardio and weight training; locker rooms; a climbing wall; a variety of multipurpose rooms for yoga, spinning, exercise classes and meetings; an indoor running track; a super mac gymnasium for indoor soccer, field hockey and other sports; an outdoor adventure center; administrative spaces and a cafe. The project also includes a two-story link from the existing recreation center to the new addition.

Construction on the project began in spring 2011 and was completed in time to welcome students for the 2013-14 academic year.


Recreation and Wellness Center, University of Minnesota, 123 Harvard St. S.E., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455;
* Owner: University of Minnesota; Minneapolis;
* Architect of Record: Studio Five Architects, Inc.; Minneapolis;
* Design Architects: Cannon Design; Chicago;
* General Contractor and Construction Manager at Risk: JE Dunn Construction Group, Inc.; Minneapolis;
* Glazing Contractor: W. L. Hall Company; Hopkins, Minnesota;
* Glazing systems – manufacturer: Wausau Window and Wall Systems, SuperWall curtainwall and 4250 Series windows; Wausau, Wisconsin;
* Glazing systems – glass assemblies: Viracon, Inc.; Owatonna, Minnesota;
* Glazing systems – finisher: Linetec; Wausau, Wisconsin;
* Photographer: Ryan Siemers, ASMP, Assoc. AIA, LEED® AP