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Water Works Construction: May Update

One of the most eye-catching alterations to the nascent Water Works Pavilion occurred last Friday, May 8: The dramatic entry arch was installed, signaling a significant step forward in construction.

This month, we’re zooming in on this signature detail, thanks to Project Designer Michael Hara and Project Architect Robert Good, both of HGA. We first met with Michael and Robert last December, when we went inside the building to begin exploring the many ways in which its design unites the old with the new.

[Related Content: Water Works Construction December Update]

Forming the main entry to the pavilion from the future General Mills Plaza, the arch is immediately striking, even to the untrained eye. But look closely, and you’ll begin to see that its harmonious design is in fact a skilled blending of disparate visual notes represented by the Columbia Mill and Bassett Mill remnants into which the building is being embedded.

HGA’s rendering of the arched entry.

Because the old mills were constructed at different times of different materials “the entire riverfront façade had really interesting rhythms of arches moving up and down,” says Michael. “A lot of design thinking went into the new entryway arch – it was something that we studied very carefully and rigorously.”

The team used advanced parametric and virtual reality tools that allowed them to look at dozens of design iterations. They landed on an approach that established balance by embracing the inherent asymmetry between the adjoining mill remnants.

“Bricks on the left side of the arch are tighter together and as they move across the arch to the right side, they are farther apart. This became the driver for the composition of the whole façade, including locating the door off-center, where traditionally it’s positioned in the middle,” says Michael.

For Robert, who visits the site at least weekly to check on progress, seeing the arch in place was a significant moment. “It’s the first element of the building that is the finished product,” he said. “After looking at it on the screen for so long, seeing it go up was a pretty transformative moment.”

More transformative moments will be coming quickly now as construction continues to gain momentum towards its expected fall 2020 completion date. We look forward to catching up with Robert and Michael again in the coming months. Until then, please enjoy some further updates, courtesy of Doug Verdier.

Featured image by Michael Hara

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