Aurora on France offers convenient living for Seniors in Edina, MN.

Empirehouse teamed with Adolfson & Peterson Construction and Edward Farr Architects as the architectural glass and metal contractor for the Aurora on France Senior Living Center. The glass and metal scope included approximately 11,000 total square feet of fully captured thermal aluminum storefront framing system glazed with tinted, high-performance, coated, insulated glass; a skyway aluminum storefront system with custom fin application; radium glass and frames; entrances; mirrors; and a unique crown glass feature.

The collaborative relationship between Empirehouse and Adolfson & Peterson began with a technically sophisticated project—the American Swedish Institute: Nelson Cultural Center. Pre-construction assistance for Aurora on France became the perfect opportunity for construction alignment between Empirehouse and Adolfson & Peterson. In fact, the Aurora on France project is a great example of how the Empirehouse Collaboration by Design process is lived out. Through teamwork, collaboration, and innovative problem solving, Empirehouse achieved system design assist for constructability and accommodated the design aesthetics and glazing installation with quality results, project safety, and delivered the project on schedule.

Aurora on France

Design assist

Edward Farr Architects approached Empirehouse in 2015 to assist with system design of the Aurora building glass crown feature and aluminum glazing system scope to ensure constructability of their aesthetic intent. This system design assistance included pre-construction engineering and detail creation, logistics review and alignment, design-development budget pricing, and post-award value engineering.

Fabrication: teamwork and innovation

The fabrication team tackled assembly of thousands of square feet of aluminum storefront frames by working together in an assembly line fashion. Each team member had a specific role in order to efficiently build the frames. “They put anchor holes and back sealed the frames before delivery so that the frames were ready for field installation as they arrived to the job site,” said Fabrication Manager Adam Griffith.

One of the most innovative ideas the fabrication team had was to use life-sized drawings provided by the drafting team as a layout for the radius frame assembly. This assured that the frames were assembled exactly as intended before they were delivered to the job site.

Field Installation: Teamwork, Communication, Innovation (and a Little Humor on the Side)

Minnesota winter double digits below zero kicked off the field installation phase of the project. Installers packed on protective outerwear and kept moving to stay warm. Inside work was strategically saved for spring’s rainy days in order to keep the project moving forward.

“Working inside became one of our most innovative installation ideas for a few reasons,” said Lead Glazier Dave Thorson. “Ninety-five percent of the aluminum storefront frames and glass were set from the inside of the building which reduced equipment costs and was more efficient–the inside finished floor provided a clean and level surface for installation and there was no climate to control.”

Pre-planning helped with the daily material deliveries to the job site and the installation team used an efficient assembly line system. “On site we typically had two Journeymen helping a couple Apprentices become fast at a task until they were ready to master a new one,” said Thorson. The installation team had a lot of laughs, too. “Work gets done easier when everybody has fun working with each other. In the beginning we were installing 10 frames a day, but by the end of the project, we were setting around 30 in the same time,” said Thorson.

Every team member knew their role and what was expected of them. “The Empirehouse installation team did a great job!” said Thorson.

Aurora on France skyway

“Street closures made the skyway installation go smoothly when the field team installed the custom aluminum frames, glass lights and fin applications,” said Field Superintendent Trent Johnson.

Innovative problem solving: lots and lots of mirrors

With over 60 interior mirrors of various sizes installed throughout the 50-plus room facility, Empirehouse used a little innovative problem solving to develop a mirror schedule. “This way we could quickly identify the mirrors for staging and reduce confusion about where the mirrors needed to be installed, what mirrors had been ordered, and what mirrors still needed to be ordered,” said Field Superintendent Trent Johnson.

Lead Glazier Mitch SchindelOvercoming challenges: crown glass installation

“Coordinating the crown glass framing and installation on the sixth floor roof top was the most challenging aspect of this project,” said Project Manager Jason Weld. There was a collaborative effort between the Safety & Quality Manager, the Glazing Foremen, the Project Manager, the Field Superintendent, and the General Contractor when Empirehouse tackled the crown glass installation. A task-specific quality plan was implemented.

Foreman Mitch Schindele was assigned to lead the crown glass installation using the tower crane. Everyone worked through the changes quickly and adapted well. “Eighty–13/16″ laminated glass lites weighing as much as 300 lbs. would have been impossible to install by hand,” said Field Superintendent Trent Johnson. “Using the tower crane on site made it three times faster to install the heavy glass units than by using a mobile crane.”

glazing installation

It was like construction Olympics when Empirehouse glaziers Eddy Love (left) and Brandon Schindele (right) began to install the crown glass as they balanced on a beam 60 feet above ground and safely harnessed with fall protection.

Empirehouse is an NACC Certified Glazing ContractorSafety

Empirehouse is a Certified NACC Glazing Contractor and is the first Midwest architectural glass and metal contractor to achieve North American Contractor Certification. In accordance with Adolfson & Peterson’s safety requirements and Empirehouse’s ongoing safety program, daily safety documentation was submitted to the General Contractor on DHA’s, Tool Box Topics, and Near Miss Reports. Empirehouse also utilized a single-source online document filing system to manage the project via iPads, iPhones, and daily reporting. Safety hazards that were identified were communicated to the Safety & Quality Manager and reviewed with the glazing crew on site.


Ongoing communication with the Adolfson & Peterson Management Team kept Empirehouse aligned with the enclosure schedule, and weekly job site meetings were held with the lead glazier to go over scheduling, issues, and man power needs. As a result of this ongoing communication, Empirehouse was effectively staffed throughout the project to meet the schedule.

When Dave Thorson was moved to Project Manager, Dave Gile took over the Aurora project as Foreman. “Even with the change in Foremen, the project ran smoothly,” said Field Superintendent Trent Johnson. “They both led the project well and provided good communication with the General Contractor, installation team, and in-house staff.”

As a result of proactive safety measures, careful communication, collaboration, quality fabrication and installation, teamwork, and innovative problem solving, Empirehouse completed the Aurora on France project safely and on schedule to achieve the architect’s, contractor’s, and owner’s expectations with quality results—now that’s our Collaboration by Design process in action.

Video: Setting Glass using a Power Grip and Tower Crane

Aurora on France
Aurora-Edina Medical, LLC
Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Architect: Edward Farr Architects
Architectural Glass & Metal Contractor: Empirehouse, Inc.
Location: Edina, MN
Total Glass Area: 13,000 square feet
Project Completion: October 2016

Let the Empirehouse design-assist and constructability experts identify and solve your architectural glass and metal system issues before your next construction project begins. Call Empirehouse at (763) 535-1150 or contact us.

Aurora on France Photo Gallery: (Click to enlarge)