Baker Center Showcases a Building Entry that Provides a Unified Facade for the Complex

Baker Center showcases a building entry featuring Tubelite curtainwall and storefront systems.

Baker Center showcases a building entry featuring Tubelite curtainwall and storefront systems.

Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, the renovated 90-year-old Baker Center showcases a building entry featuring Tubelite curtainwall and storefront systems. At the corner of Marquette Avenue and Eighth Street, the main entry provides a unified façade for the four buildings that comprise the complex.

Owned by The Travelers Companies and managed by Transwestern, the Baker Center boasts more than 1 million-square-feet of office and retail space. It consists of the Baker Building, Investors Building, Roanoke Building and the 730 Building. The Baker, Roanoke and Investor buildings were built in the 1920s. The 730 Building was completed in 1968. The $25 million renovation started in 2016, continued in phases to minimize distribution to occupants and concluded in July 2017.

“The goal of the design was to honor the historic aspects of the buildings, while creating modern spaces to support the mobile worker,” states David Serrano, AIA, a principal with RSP, the architectural firm heading up the design. “The result takes advantage of the art deco bones of the building, while introducing amenities like the concierge desk and rooftop deck.”

To reflect the look and performance for this property, the Brin Contract Glazing team worked with the architect, construction manager Hightower Initiatives, general contractor JE Dunn and Tubelite to install the curtainwall. “It was a logistically challenging project,” admits Scott Ide, Brin Contract Glazing.

He elaborates, “Each time the demolition team removed a window, you didn’t know what you’d find. The four buildings had been combined over the years into one. With different construction techniques for each, and no existing drawings from the original architects or the many earlier remodeling contractors, drawings and revisions were nonstop throughout the renovation.”

A design element in the Baker Center renovation is the corner constructed using Tubelite 400TU Therml=Block Screw Spline Curtainwall, vertically butt-glazed with horizontal covers. Ide notes, “A large amount of steel was added to anchor the curtainwall. It’s the main feature of the building from the fourth to the top floor.”

The lower levels feature Tubelite TU24000 Therml=Block dual-pocket, poured and debridged thermal storefront on the exterior, and 4500 Series storefront on the interior. Expanded window lines at street level offer a view into the entry lobby featuring a 60-foot media wall. At the architect’s request, TU24000 Therml=Block storefront also was used for the windows on the upper stories.

The renovation honors historic aspects of Baker Center, while creating modern spaces to support the mobile worker.

The renovation honors historic aspects of Baker Center, while creating modern spaces to support the mobile worker.


“In the cold climates of Minnesota, Tubelite Therml=Block products provide energy and condensation resistance performance using multiple thermal barriers, while providing structural integrity and aesthetic flexibility,” explains Mary Avery, Tubelite vice president of marketing.

She continues, “Optimizing thermal performance helps lower the load on HVAC systems and reducing associated energy costs, while maintaining a comfortable interior temperature. Reducing condensation can improve the appearance and sanitation of the building, and minimize damage to adjacent building materials.”

Tubelite relies on Linetec to provide the thermal strut, thermal pour and debridged, plus the finishing for its aluminum framing members. For the Baker Center project, the aluminum is finished in a clear anodize. Anodizing is a durable and lasting option for finishing architectural aluminum building products. Because it is an integral part of the aluminum substrate, the anodic coating provides wear and abrasion resistance with little maintenance.

Complementing the thermally broken aluminum framing, the Tubelite curtainwall and storefront was glazed with low-e, 1-inch Solarban 60 and low-iron glass with warm edge spacers and argon fill from Vitro Architectural Glass provided by Oldcastle.

Within its glass-enclosed interior, its top amenity floor sports conference room space, a collaborative lounge and concierge services designed to appeal to the workforce. There is also an on-site fitness center and rooftop patio with views of the Minneapolis skyline.

The project team modernized the downtown icon, while maintaining some of its history through design elements. “Now that the project is completed, everybody’s happy with it,” reports Ide. “It’s a building with an improved look.”

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