Page E1.1 . 05 August 2009                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Postcard from Maple Grove

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Great River Energy Headquarters in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Photography by Kevin Matthews.

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The building enfronts a groundwater lake (restored from an old gravel quarry), which provides the heat sink for groundwater heat pumps — as well as habitat for the great blue heron who flew in during our tour.

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The 160-foot-tall, 200-kilowatt refurbished wind turbine is an exciting neighborhood landmark, which also provides more than 10% of the building's total energy needs.

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Thin office stacks with glazed interior walls flanking clerestoried atriums get daylight from both exterior and interior.


Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.

Dear ArchitectureWeek,

Inside and outside, this building comes across initially as nice, but seemingly a bit buttoned down, handsome yet perhaps a bit conventional in affect.

And then there's the windmill.

Or wind turbine, more properly — fully half the height of the Statue of Liberty including her pedestal, standing at a safely air-drag-free distance from the edifice.

And there's the lobby graced with an elegant, egalitarian cafeteria... not to mention sound-softening waterfall... clerestory light scoops above... rainwater plumbing... staff pantries... amazing view alignments... lake-integrated groundwater heat pumping...

And there's Minnesota's largest PV array to date, mostly hidden a-rooftop.

There are graceful, daylit, transparent spaces, one after another, in which to work through a day, sunny or gray.

The Great River Energy Headquarters, LEED Platinum-certified, which we toured with Doug Pierce of Perkins + Will and Gary Connett of Great River Energy, turns out to be nothing like a run-of-the-mill corporate work-box, the shopping mall across the street notwithstanding.

Like other Platinum-certified buildings we have visited — and like the Renzo Piano cover story by Mike Crosbie in this issue of ArchitectureWeek — this is a building built deeply and with love.

It will be interesting to see how the love and craft of architecture, imbued in this building by the Perkins + Will-anchored design team, might shine through in the formal post-occupancy evaluation study we hope to report on later this year.

On the road in Minnesota,

Kevin Matthews
Editor in Chief

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