The Mall of America Expansion project completed in 2015 features a ten-story office tower which balances the flanking twelve-story luxury hotel and is connected by decorative glass “Jewel Box” on the building’s exterior. The view of these two connected structures provides Mall customers and clients an amazing image as they enter from the busy I-494 freeway system.
The Mall of America Expansion was the Mall’s most significant construction project since its grand opening in 1992. With an aggressive completion date and challenging logistics, Empirehouse entered into a design-build/value-engineered contract with Mortenson Construction to meet the owner’s challenging needs.
The ten-story office tower and twelve-story JW Marriott hotel features a four-sided, 110,000 square feet structural glazed system and a decorative glass “Jewel Box” on the building’s exterior. This dual cantilevered custom painted wall system is glazed with Viracon’s VRE1-38 and VE1-46 coatings on insulated glass units—the largest lite of glass measures 86″ x 146.” The glass is digitally printed on surface #2 with an image resembling a sound equalizer which is virtually invisible during daylight hours, but illuminates at night when back lit. Two sweeping glass canopies protect customers when entering the complex; one measures 44′ x 31′ and the other 59′ x 27.’ The laminated glass makeup of 3/8″ VRE1-38 /.090 SGP interlayer / 3/8″ clear glass imprinted with a linear pattern, allows the projecting canopies to blend with the curtainwall. When visitors stand beneath the glass canopies, they see these surfaces “pop” with amazing graphic features.
While the contract value was established through a standard design-bid process, Empirehouse entered into a design-build relationship with Mortenson in order to maintain the pre-determined schedule. Our relationship and familiarity with Mortenson and their construction processes allowed us to successfully collaborate on yet another iconic structure.
To manage the logistics and oversight in installing 110,000 square feet of aluminum curtain wall systems—weighing 1.2 million pounds—Empirehouse placed a full-time operations staff on site who integrated with the construction management group. This daily collaboration with Mortenson and the other contractors allowed Empirehouse in the creation of functional details and advocate for installation sequencing that proved beneficial and helped maintain the critical path project schedule.
Unique glazing and fabrication features
Decorative curtain wall: On surface #2, the glass was digitally printed with an image resembling a sound equalizer which is virtually invisible during daylight hours, but glows at night when back lit. Viracon, our glass provider, supplied VRE1-38 and VE1-46 coatings. Glass installed was as large as 86″ x 146.” The aluminum was custom painted with an Akzo Nobel color named “Steel City Silver.” The dual-cantilevered wall system was loaded with 1″ x 6″ steel bar stock for structural support.
Sweeping canopies: Two oversize canopies protect customers as they enter the complex: one section at 44′ x 31′ and the other at 59′ x 27.’ The glass makeup was 3/8″ with a VRE1-38 coating /.090 SGP interlayer / 3.8″ clear, imprinted with a linear pattern. The projecting canopies blend in with the curtain wall–but when standing under the glass, the image “pops” and has an amazing graphic visual feature.
Ten-story office tower: The striking office tower features the penthouse and stair areas cladded with approximately 13,000 total square feet four-sided structural silicone glazed aluminum pressure-wall framing system, glazed with high performance low ‘e’ coating on the #2 surface with a stainless steel warm-edge spacer. The fourth through ninth floors have 25,000 square feet of ribbon curtainwall system glazed with matching glass. The accompanying spandrel glass was provided with the ceramic spandrel frit on the #3 surface, offering a subtle banding effect around the perimeter floors of the building. All aluminum framing was painted with a 3 coat custom fluropolymer finish. A unique feature using curtainwall systems was utilized on the penthouse level. An oversized “railing” was designed to wrap around the perimeter corners to provide a wide-open exterior space for building tenants to enjoy warm weather socializing.
HUGE doors: Aptly named, “Elephant Doors,” Empirehouse fabricated and installed Arcadia’s jumbo multi-panel swinging/ sliding doors which fill a 26’ wide x 13’ tall opening. The doors operate as swinging entry doors for customers during the day and as sliding and stacking doors to create openings large enough for semi-trailers to pass through.
Mega-hoisting of material: Complex site conditions required sophisticated lift equipment. The glazing team utilized a Spider HydraLift wall climber, eight swing stage systems, and the Mortenson tower crane to scale the wall elevations and move and install frames and glazing.
Custom unitized window unit systems: To help speed the progress on the hotel, Empirehouse fully fabricated, glazed and weatherized the curtainwall system prior to installation. These 10’ x 5’ units weighed approximately 500 pounds each and were installed by our state-of-the-art Ergo Robotics glass manipulator, nicknamed “EGOR.” This robotic equipment, operated by one person, allowed our glazing team to install large window units in as little as 17 minutes each. Not only did EGOR assist us with time efficiencies to meet the aggressive schedule, but it provided a safer installation process for our glaziers.
Challenging site conditions
The Mall of America job site was very tight. Space was limited to store and handle material which demanded detailed logistics management. Adding to the complexity, the Mall remained in full operation during construction. Safety was our utmost concern. Our installation team was on constant alert for cars and pedestrians in order to keep everyone away from dangerous conditions while meeting the project timeline and project goals.
Empirehouse is privileged to have been contracted as the preferred glazing contractor for the Mall of America Expansion project. Our estimating and project management departments, fabrication team, glaziers, and accounting staff all worked diligently to make this project a success.
General Contractor: Mortenson Construction
Architect: DLR Group
Glazing Contractor: Empirehouse, Inc.
Total Glass Area: approx. 110,000 square feet
For your next project, trust a Certified NACC Architectural Glass and Metal Contractor for quality results. Contact Empirehouse at 763-535-1150 or contact us.