The Nelson Cultural Center at the American Swedish Institute is an amazing blend of two centuries of architecture: a 1908 Turnblad mansion, the iconic headquarters of the American Swedish Institute, and the new Scandinavian-influenced Nelson Cultural Center built in 2012.
Empirehouse was awarded a design-assist contract, as well as the glazing contract, to provide sweeping custom curtainwalls, specialty art glass, and a glass walk way which links the American Swedish Institute mansion to the new Nelson Cultural Center addition. The transparent and translucent glass features make this project both exciting and challenging.
The Custom Glass Walk Way
In October 2012, Empirehouse completed fabrication and glazing of the glass walk way which links the American Swedish Institute mansion to the new Nelson Cultural Center addition on the third floor. The fully fabricated shed-style glass walk way features a custom steel support pedestal, an aluminum bar stock glass support cage assembly, and is glazed with high performance laminated silk-screened glass.
Empirehouse welded a fabricated aluminum frame to transport the 6,500 pound, 12′ long x 5′ wide x 11′-6″ tall glass walk way 15 miles on a heavy duty low-boy trailer. Once it arrived, the glass walk way was carefully tower craned around the American Swedish Institute’s historic stone walls to the third story and gently inserted into the tight-fitting cavity to join with the new Nelson Cultural Center addition.
Architect John Cook of HGA watched the glass walk way as it was being craned to the third floor and said, “It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen; like watching the Space Shuttle dock to the Space Station.”
Transparent Structural Glass Wall and High Performance Windows
The owner and HGA Architects sought out to achieve a well-lit and welcoming reception area. Empirehouse provided over 1,200 square feet of a Canadian-designed thermal composite aluminum window system with high performance glazing. This system tied the air barrier into the wall for exception energy efficiency.
In addition, Empirehouse provided 3,800 square feet of a custom-machined aluminum bar-stock monumental curtainwall framing system which is glazed with high-performance insulated glass. Empirehouse used a structural silicone-glazed framing system with custom profile extruded tapered covers to offer a clean and flush appearance on the building’s exterior.
Specialty Art Glass Wall
When the American Swedish Institute decided to add a modern, Scandinavian-influenced wing to their existing 1900’s museum headquarters, they wanted people entering the new Nelson Cultural Center to envision 21st century Scandinavia, and not just historic pre-1900’s Sweden.
The Nelson Cultural Center entry wall greets visitors with an iridescent translucent blue textured glass that is custom fabricated by Architectural Glass Art of Louisville. To accommodate the northern climate, Empirehouse shipped the art glass to Viracon, Inc. in Owatonna for fabrication into insulated glass units. Then we installed these custom fabricated lites into an 800 square foot area into the structural glass wall. Not only does the entry glass visually please the eye, but the texture creates interest and entices visitors to enter through the contemporary Nordic wood doorway.
The Nelson Center at the American Swedish Institute positions the museum as a primary cultural center for Nordic arts, music and culture.
Video: Fabricating, glazing, transporting, craning and setting a 6,500 lb. glass walk way
American Swedish Institute: Nelson Cultural Center
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Architect: HGA Architects
Glazing Specialty Contractor: Empirehouse, Inc.
The American Swedish Institue was one of Finance & Commerce Top Projects of 2012.
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