By Julie Kendrick Finance and Commerce

Editor’s note: This is the 12th installment in Finance & Commerce’s Top Projects of 2015 series, which profiles the 26 honorees through Sept. 30. Previous installments can be read at

Address: 600 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis

Project cost: $50 million

Project size: 330,860 square feet, plus 243,496 square feet of parking on two levels

Owner: Camelot LLC

Contractor: Mortenson Construction

Architect: RSP Architects (base building); AECOM (Timberwolves practice facility and front office and Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine)

Engineers: Ericksen Roed & Associates (structural); Dunham/Schadegg Mechanical Inc. (mechanical); Dunham/Parsons Electric (electrical)

Other contributors: MG McGrath Inc. (metal fabricator and installer); Don Kohlenberger (Hightower Initiatives)

“Urban fabric” is the buzzword-du-jour among city redevelopers. But in the case of Minneapolis’ Block E space, the “fabric” was equivalent to a too-loud and outdated piece of polyester, replete with ketchup stains and cigarette burns. What to do when the urban fabric has become horribly frayed?

The team behind Mayo Clinic Square created a space that’s the equivalent of a couture little black dress – chic, tailored and loaded with what Diana Vreeland called “pizzazz.” The new development, which fills an entire city block, is anchored by well-known Minnesota brands: Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota LynxMayo Clinic Sports Medicine treats athletic injuries and includes rehabilitation and specialized imaging equipment. The Timberwolves/Lynx headquarters and practice facility includes NBA basketball courts for team practice.

“This is a critical piece of real estate for the city, because it’s a threshold site leading to our sports, entertainment and business centers,” said David Serrano, principal at RSP Architects. The team faced a number of challenges in developing the mixed-use space. Multiple functions are often found in a tower format of 20 stories or more, but Mayo Clinic Square is the shortest mixed-use building in the area, combining retail on the first floor, offices on the second, and practice spaces above them. The solution to unify such disparate audiences on the exterior was the inclusion of a scrim, a perforated metal framework that weaves around the building and changes based on what’s happening inside. “It offers flexibility and variety, but still functions compositionally as a complete idea,” Serrano said.  

And just like that classic little black dress, the building includes day-to-night options that take it from serious to celebratory. A LED lighting package washes the scrim with color at night, echoing the marquees along the Hennepin Avenue entry and changing hues to reflect sports team victories, holidays and other seasonal cues.

“The building is ‘all business’ during the day, but it can party a little bit at night,” Serrano said. “With this project, we’ve accomplished some things that haven’t been done before. It took quite a bit of collaboration among all the team members, but we were all willing to do the work necessary to go the extra mile.”

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