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Architecture & Design, Development

Expansion and Renovation at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN

Last week, The Opus Group officially announced the full completion of a two-phased project involving a 41,500-square-foot expansion and renovation at St. Catherine University’s Aimee and Patrick Butler Center for Sports and Fitness in St. Paul, MN. Phase I, which went from May 2014 to August of the same year, was specifically about renovating approximately 10,000 square feet in Fontbonne Hall, thus transforming existing gymnasium space into additional classrooms and connecting building with the adjacent Butler Center. Phase II, which began construction in fall of 2014 and ended in January 2015, created 31,500 square feet of new space inside the Butler Center, featuring separate varsity locker rooms and lounge space, a cardio room with fitness equipment, a dance studio and a one-story, multipurpose training center and field house. In addition, The Opus Group redesigned the primary point of entry and also added an elevator in order to enhance both accessibility and security.

St. Catherine University’s Aimee and Patrick Butler Center for Sports and Fitness in St. Paul, MN (Source: The Opus Group)

St. Catherine University’s Aimee and Patrick Butler Center for Sports and Fitness in St. Paul, MN (Source: The Opus Group)

The ahead-of-schedule completion of phase II enabled St. Catherine University’s students, faculty and athletic department officials to have access to the new facilities right in time for the spring semester. Satisfied by the work results, St. Catherine University’s vice president and chief financial officer Tom Rooney stated “A strong collaborative working relationship between Opus and St. Kate’s was the key to reaching our goal of improving and creating new spaces in this nine million dollar project, which benefits our entire campus community”.

Architecture & Design, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Industry News, International Real Estate, Think Outside The Box, Urban Planning

Rising Towers Escalate Need for Faster Lifts

 The following article by  was reposted from the current issue of Urban Land Magazine

December 1, 2014

Shanghai-tower_800

When Shanghai Tower opens as China’s tallest building next year, the 2,073-foot (632 m) tower will feature elevators capable of traveling 40.3 miles (64.8 km) per hour, or 59 feet (18 m) per second, a new milestone. That bests the 55.1 feet (16.8 m) per second achieved by the elevators in the current record holder, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which was completed in 2004.

But Shanghai Tower likely will not hold the title as world’s fastest for long. Builders of the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, which is scheduled to open in 2016 in Guangzhou, China, have promised elevators capable of traveling 66 feet (20 m) per second, or 45 miles (72 km) per hour. The elevators will take passengers from the first floor to the 95th floor in about 43 seconds.

The question facing the industry today: how fast can elevators go without sacrificing comfort?

“This is a new day,” says Steve Edgett, partner in Edgett Williams Consulting Groups, which works on elevator designs. “We’re in uncharted territory.” Some analysts believe mankind may be close to the limits of elevator speeds using modern technology. “I think there is a limit, not to building, but what we can do efficiently,” says Johannes de Jong, head of technology for Finland-based Kone Elevators.

Kingdom_Tower_360

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower will feature the longest single elevator ride in a building, about 2,165 feet (660 m). (Kone Corporation)

The biggest obstacle for faster speeds is the variance in air pressure from the bottom to the top of tall buildings. A superfast elevator leaves no time for the body to adjust to the changes in pressure, similar to the effect experienced by divers surfacing too quickly in the ocean.

For elevators to go faster, something will have to be done to accommodate the human ear, which is extremely sensitive to pressure changes. Commercial jets typically take 20 to 30 minutes to descend from their highest altitude and help passengers adjust, yet earaches and complaints are still common. “One thing we cannot do is change the laws of physics,” de Jong says.

For the Guangzhou tower, Japanese tech firm Hitachi, which is building the elevators, will use a sophisticated control panel that can respond to “changes in atmospheric pressure correctly” to smooth the acceleration and deceleration process and “relieve the feeling of fullness in the ear as a result,” a company spokesperson says. This adjustment technology will reduce the abrupt pressure changes inside the elevator car, while special “active guide rollers” will compensate for even tiny lateral vibrations, Hitachi says.

But there is no guarantee the measures will provide a comfortable ride. Every person’s physiology is different; people with colds or earaches may be more susceptible to ear problems. At 66 feet (20 m) per second, even the slightest vibration will create a shock for passengers.

In Taipei 101 and other existing tall buildings, the elevators are usually set to descend much slower than they ascend in order to ease the ride. Nevertheless, passenger complaints are common. “At nine meters [30 feet] a second, I felt my ears pop,” Edgett says.

In the one-kilometer-tall (0.6 mi) Kingdom Tower under construction in Saudi Arabia—which likely will become the next “tallest building in the world”—Kone expects elevator speeds to peak at 33 to 41 feet (10 to 12.5 m) per second. “It’s up to the client,” de Jong says. “We have to show him how it feels.”

However, Kingdom Tower will feature the longest single elevator ride in a building, about 2,165 feet (660 m), using a new carbon fiber cable designed by Kone called UltraRope, which is dramatically lighter and stronger than steel cables.

Read the entire article at http://urbanland.uli.org/planning-design/rising-towers-escalate-need-faster-lifts/?utm_source=uli&utm_medium=eblast&utm_campaign=120114

 

 

Architecture & Design, Minneapolis / St. Paul Housing, Twin Cities Real Estate, Urban Planning

Completion of 26-Story Apartment Building Brings Luxury Living to Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall

The Nic on Fifth™ is the first high-rise luxury apartment development in downtown Minneapolis in nearly three decades. Recently completed by Minnetonka-based Opus Group, the 26-story luxury apartment building is located on the corner of Fifth Street and Nicollet Mall. It features 20,000 square feet of retail space and skyway levels with 253 apartment units above (including 26 penthouses). The building already started welcoming new residents since September 12 of this year and so far, it is more than 60 percent leased. The Opus Group adds that The Nic on Fifth™ reflects current and future needs of the urban center of more than 35,000 residents and aligns with the city of Minneapolis’ vision of expanding the downtown population to 70,000 by 2025.

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Architecture & Design, Commercial Real Estate, Green Building, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Think Outside The Box, Twin Cities Real Estate

Shipping Container Building Proposed for Minneapolis North Loop

A unique office building to be constructed of shipping containers has been proposed for a small site in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood. The project is being developed by Akquracy, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm that will be the primary tenant for the office space. Its located just blocks from Target Field, near two other recent creative office developments in the Ford Center and the new Be The Match headquarters building.

Steelcase

The building will be about 18,000 square feet, consisting of office space and a small café/restaurant space with outdoor seating. The design involves fifty shipping containers, each 75 feet in length. The containers will be stacked three levels high, with a portion of the building elevated over a public plaza. To minimize foundation piling due soil conditions on site, one triangular half of the building will sit on top of an existing underground parking structure, while the other half is shifted one level upwards. The lifting of half the building allows for the creation of covered plaza space and opens up the street corner.

The developer for this project commissioned New York-based architectural firm LOT-EK to design the building. The firm is known for its use of “up-cycling,” or repurposing unique materials in order to create unique designs and build sustainably. Shipping containers have become an increasing popular building material in recent years, having been used for everything from small homes to multifamily and office buildings.

Architecture & Design

Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (KA) Completes $73 Million High School in Alexandria, MN

The beginning of the 2014-15 school year couldn’t be any better for the Alexandria School District in Alexandria, MN. Just in time, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (KA) has completed a $73 million and 280,000-square-foot senior high school for the district.

The new high school commons (Source: REJournals.com)

The new high school commons (Source: REJournals.com)

Designed by Cuningham Group Architects to be a flexible learning environment, the new high school will house 1,400 students and replace the district’s Jefferson High School which was initially built in 1957. Speaking of flexibility, Trevor Peterson, director of business services for the district, adds “Not knowing what education is going to look like five years from now or 15 years from now, we needed to make the building adaptable”.

Architecture & Design, Business Valuation, Commercial Real Estate

Minneapolis Has Already Surpassed the 1 Million Mark in Construction Projects for 2014

Based on “the total valuation of building permits in Minneapolis since 2000” posted by Star Tribune, as of August 14, 2014, Minneapolis already surpassed the $1 billion mark in construction projects for this year. With $1.211 billion in construction projects so far, the city just exceeded the $1 billion mark for the third consecutive time since 2000. About half of this year’s total valuation so far came from the construction of Vikings Stadium ($241 million) and Downtown East apartments and office tours located on 550 S 4th Street, 600 S 4th Street, 510 S 4th Street, and 640 S 4th Street (All valued at $219 million).

Architects rendering of 'Downtown East' - development on Star Tribune site, next to new Vikings stadium " gameday aerial view' (Source: Star Tribune)

Architects rendering of ‘Downtown East’ – development on Star Tribune site, next to new Vikings stadium
” gameday aerial view’ (Source: Star Tribune)

 

Affordable Housing, Architecture & Design, International Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Think Outside The Box

Could 3D Printing Revolutionize Building Construction?

3D printing has been around since the 1980’s, but in the last few years the technology has become much more affordable and accessible. Many are now speculating on the ways 3D printing could revolutionize the global manufacturing landscape. But could the technology have a similar disruptive impact on how buildings are constructed? Innovators and entrepreneurs across the globe are already trying to find out.

Last week, a Chinese company demonstrated the capabilities of a giant house-building 3D printer it has been researching for 10 years. The machine has the capacity to construct 10 houses in less than 24 hours, using predominantly recycled materials. The homes cost less than $5,000 to build, which means the technology could have a huge impact on improving housing conditions in the country. Despite rampant skyscraper construction in major cities across China, the country still has a massive need for quick, cheap housing, particularly outside of the major urban areas.

Workers in China assemble a house built by Winsun with a 3D Printer

Rather than printing the homes in one go, Winsun’s 3D printer creates building blocks by layering up a cement/glass mix in structural patterns (watch the process here). The diagonally reinforced print pattern leaves air gaps to act as insulation. The blocks are printed in a central factory and then assembled on site, with comparatively little labor required.

Back in the U.S., a University of Southern California professor is testing its own giant 3D printer. Unlike the Chinese technology, this printer would complete the entire construction process on-site. Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis’s design replaces construction workers with a nozzle on a gantry that squirts out concrete and can quickly build a home according to a computer pattern. It is “basically scaling up 3D printing to the scale of building,” says Khoshnevis, who labels the technology “Contour Crafting.”

Rendering of Contour Crafting technology being used to build a home

The Contour Crafting system is essentially a robot that automates age-old building tools normally used by hand. Once a site is prepared, the contour crafter system would be laid down on two parallel rails just beyond the eventual width of the building. From there, the computer-controlled system would take over, laying down concrete in layers with a gantry-type crane and a hanging nozzle. Once the frame is built, construction workers would hang doors and insert windows.

Contour Crafting could potentially slash the cost of home construction. It could also be a major help in responding to housing crises related to emergencies like natural disasters, where thousands can be left without shelter. Khoshnevis is particularly hopeful that the technology could be used to improve housing for the nearly one billion people across the globe currently living in slum conditions.

3D printing could reduce the labor required for building construction

It seems that it will only be a matter of time as to when 3D printing will begin to make a major impact in building construction. As Khoshnevis points out, “if you look around you pretty much everything is made automatically these days – your shoes, your clothes, home appliances, your car. The only thing that is still built by hand are these buildings.”

 

Architecture & Design, Economics, Housing, International Real Estate, Residential Real Estate

In Japan’s Housing, Adventurous Architecture Through Unusual Real Estate Economics

Japan has become known for its adventurous, even radical residential architecture. Unlke in many other countries where rigid codes and conventions translate to the predominance of conservative, traditional home designs, in Japan it almost seems as though anything goes. The country has the most architects per capita in the world, and the whimsical, experimental, extreme homes they imagine are a common feature on architectural design sites like Arch Daily.

914sf house by Sou Fujimoto Architects in Tokyo

914sf house by Sou Fujimoto Architects in Tokyo

But why is this the case? A recent article in Arch Daily delved into this issue and found that the penchant towards avant-garde design may be due to unusual real estate economics more than anything else. In the West, deviation from design norms tends to create risk for a home’s value, because future buyers may be turned off by the “unique” aesthetics or experimental features that could require above average maintenance. Avant-garde home design is thus typically limited to unconventional clients who can afford to ignore the potential impact on resale value.

House in Saijo by Suppose Design Partners

House in Saijo by Suppose Design Partners

In Japan though, experimental homes enjoy a broader, mass-market appeal. And that may be due in part because there, homes are almost universally expected to rapidly depreciate in value, similar to a consumer durable good such as a car. Homes are commonly demolished a mere 30 years after being built. Japanese home-buyers (and home-builders) are thus less concerned about future resale values, allowing them more freedom to let their home designs break from convention.

House in Kohoku by Torafu

House in Kohoku by Torafu

This characteristic of the Japanese residential real estate market is a boon to architects and developers. Despite a shrinking population, house building remains steady, and 87% of Japan’s home sales are new homes (compared with only 11-34% in Western countries). This puts the total volume of new houses built in Japan on par with the US, despite having only a third of the population. But the depreciation of home values is also a major obstacle to wealth-building for many Japanese, and the depreciation in home values amounts to an annual loss of 4% of Japan’s total GDP.

Affordable Housing, Architecture & Design, Development, Economics, Home Prices, Housing, Housing Trends, Industry News, Multifamily, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Think Outside The Box

Micro Apartments Yield A Big Boom in the Small Space Sector

microapt2

The following commentary by Ori Klein was reposted from DSNews. Micro Apartments are becoming more popular in cities where land prices are very high near the most desirable locations.  How long until this trend arrives in Minneapolis / St. Paul? Don’t be supprised to see a development like this before long in the Uptown or downtown Minneapolis submarkets.       -Editor

Ever since the economy took a hit in 2008, downsizing has been a top priority for many homeowners and renters. The McMansion is out; low-maintenance living is in.

You can see it in traditional listings as well as on the real estate auction block—for the past several years, capacious luxury mansions have been sold via auction due to previously languishing on standard real estate listings; this continues to be a popular method of sale for owners looking to liquidate these mammoth estates (just ask Michael Jordan). With finances still in flux for most Americans, cutting back on monthly costs of maintaining a home or apartment is essential. Enter the micro apartment—the latest trend in economical living space.

Being scooped up by young urban singles, service workers, recent grads, and retirees on a fixed income, the micro apartment is the epitome of the downsize. Typically weighing in between 200 and 350 square feet (at most), these units often include private bathrooms and modern building amenities, yet require sharing a kitchen and patio with other micro dwellers. Many consider this a small sacrifice due to the clever space-saving floor plan that offers such furnishings as a dining room table which transforms into a bed, as well as a host of built-in shelves for storage. Bundle that with Internet access and an optimal location near city hot spots and transportation, and micros can be the ideal home for some. Micro apartments have become favored dwellings in leading metropolitan areas such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle.

microapt1USA Today recently covered this real estate sector uptick, reporting, “Though tiny has long been typical in Manhattan, mini-apartments are popping up in more U.S. cities where land is finite, downtowns have regained cachet, and rents have risen. In a digital age when library-sized book collections can be kept on a hand-held device, more Americans see downsizing as not only feasible but also economical and eco-friendly. . . . Developers say they can’t build micro-housing fast enough.”

Seattle, in particular, is leading the way with micros, where this style of living is exceptionally popular for young singles who want to reside within city limits. Jim Potter, founder of Footprint Investments and chairperson of Kauri Investments, a real estate investment and development company, has already completed six buildings with 40 to 60 micro apartments each in Seattle and is in the process of developing similar buildings this year in Portland, Oregon, and Jersey City.microapt3

“We don’t do any advertising, and we’re 100 percent occupied all the time,” Potter said. “It is a national phenomenon and Seattle is ahead of the pack. . . . Nobody else is producing something at this moderately priced range. You get a brand new building with a new bathroom. You get Internet access and it’s fully furnished. In general, our buildings are on major bus lines and/or light rail.”

Seattle may be ahead in the micro-space now, but it may not be for long. Despite a blanket 400 square-foot requirement on all apartments in New York City, the Big Apple is also entering the micro arena.

“Last year [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg, along with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner, Mathew M. Wambua, launched the adAPT NYC Competition, a pilot program to develop a rental building composed of micro-units,” AOL Real Estate reports. “The winner of the competition proposed 55 units ranging from 250 to 370 square feet (23 to 34 square meters), made of prefab modules. The building is scheduled for completion in Manhattan by September 2015, and will include a rooftop garden, lounges, a deck, laundry, bike storage, a cafe, and fitness room.”

San Francisco and Boston are getting in on the micro action as well, where these “aPodments,” “micro lofts,” or “metro suites,” as they are often called, are being sought after by service workers who want close proximity to their jobs, as well as techies who consider utilizing a micro as a second home for late nights in the city. The economical rent is the greatest draw.

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Architecture & Design, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Economics, Investment Real Estate, Office Real Estate, Property Management, Real Estate Trends, Think Outside The Box

Changing Office Trends Hold Major Implications for Future Office Demand

Office TrendPioneered by Tech Firms in California, Communal Workspace Model Becoming More Mainstream Among Big Office Firms

 The article below is reposted from CoStar. It was written earlier this year but I believe that it is still very relevant. There is a major change underway in how office space users are looking at their future office space needs and the utilization of their esisting office space.  This is a long term trend that is going to have a significant impact on office space owners, users, and investors.      – Herb Tousley, Director of Real Estate Programs, University of St. Thomas

 

By Mark Heschmeyer

 
Perhaps just as the inevitable disappearance of music, video and books stores should have been foreseen at the onset of a digitized connected world, so too should the commercial real estate industry start taking a hard look at changes occurring in the office market.Tenants are downsizing their offices, particularly larger public firms, as they increasingly adopt policies for sharing non-dedicated offices and implement technology to support their employees’ ability to work anywhere and anytime, according to Norm G. Miller, PhD, a professor at the University of San Diego, Burnham-Moores, Center for Real Estate, in a webinar he presented to CoStar subscribers last week.Miller said he put together the webinar to examine what would happen if office tenants used 20% less of the nation’s current office space, which has a total valuation of $1.25 trillion. That decrease in demand would represent $250 billion in excess office capacity. Although the current situation is not that dire, Miller said the trend is real, and he presented how it is currently playing out and the long-term implications for office building owners and investors.Following the webinar, CoStar News interviewed Dr. Miller for a more in-depth discussion of the topic and surveyed a wide sample of webinar participants to share their firsthand account of the ongoing trend and its implications.
 
According to Miller, four major trends are impacting the office market:
* Move to more standardized work space.
* Non-dedicated office space (sharing), along with more on-site amenities.
* Growing acceptance, even encouragement of telecommuting and working in third places, and
* More collaborative work spaces and functional project teams.
 
“Historically, under the old corporate hierarchy, everyone had their own assigned office or work desk and we saw utilization rates of 50% or so,” Miller said. “Firms that have moved to sharing space are seeing much more efficient utilization rates of 80% to 95%, sometimes using conference space seats to handle unexpected overflow. Some also have arrangements with temporary office space vendors like Liquid Space, Regus, HQ, Instant Space, as well as supporting employees working from home or third places.”“The average amount of leased space (per employee) has been shrinking,” he said. “As of mid-2012 the average was 185 square feet per worker, well below the average space assumption in most office-demand models, and well below figures 10 years ago.”There have definitely been changes in office demand, agreed Tim Wang, director and head of investment research for investor Clarion Partners in New York. “Ten years ago, 250 square feet per office employee was the gold standard in office real estate. Today, that average has dropped to approximately 195 square feet. While some office tenants are hesitating to commit to large leases primarily due to economic uncertainties, the long-term trend is clearly shifting towards efficient space usage.” Brian J. Parthum, who tracks employment and economic trends for Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) in Detroit, said his group is a case in point. “Our own organization recently moved into a smaller space,” Parthum said. “Efficient office design has allowed us to rent 7,000 square feet less space — down from 34,000 square feet — and at a lower rate. Additionally, we now have an office that is more attractive to the next generation of staff. The new space takes advantage of natural light, promotes face-to-face contact, and utilizes laptops, wireless technology, and mobile devices to allow for a more flexible work environment.”“Technology is allowing companies to be more paperless and work from a single laptop or device,” agreed Jason Lewis, president and managing broker of EcoSpace Inc. a brokerage firm in Denver that specializes in working with tenants to find sustainable workplaces. “Culturally the new generation of employees is requiring a more flexible and open environment. And in regards to the economics, there is the need for both startups and corporations to lower their burn rate and conserve cash, something that can easily be done by restructuring the way they view their office space,” Lewis said.For now, at least, the trend is more prevalent among large corporate office users with locations in multiple cities. John G. Osborne, executive director, leasing and marketing at Bergman Real Estate Group in Iselin, NJ, said also that the trend to shared office space is more prevalent among larger publically traded companies than smaller firms. “The majority of our smaller tenants, those that lease less than 5,000 square feet, still prefer private offices than an open plan,” Osborne said. “The majority of our smaller tenants, those that lease less than 5,000 square feet, still prefer private offices than an open plan,” noted John G. Osborne, executive director, leasing and marketing at Bergman Real Estate Group in Iselin, N.J.For many office-using firms, the Great Recession made downsizing a greater imperative. Occupancy rates dropped across the country as employers downsized staff and sought efficiencies through lower square foot per employee footprints. “Everything we’ve seen since 2006 and 2008 could be called the ‘Great Deleveraging,’” said Wilson Greenlaw, vice president of Thalhimer in Fredericksburg, VA. “Companies were removing fluff and eventually someone got around to looking at space utilization. Now that it is on the table, it will be maximized and implemented, resulting in a cultural shift for the office worker.”“Some of it is economic,” agreed Miller. “That is, companies realized they could save money by minimizing excess space. But I believe the single biggest factor driving this trend is technology. Now that we have moved to cloud-based file storage and can access our work from anywhere and it can be easily shared, workers no longer have to be tethered to an office to be productive. Technology is very much at the heart of this transformation.”Follow this link to read the rest of the article:  http://www.costar.com/News/Article/Changing-Office-Trends-Hold-Major-Implications-for-Future-Office-Demand/146580