Nelson Cultural Center / HGA

Nelson Cultural Center / HGA

© Paul Crosby © Paul Crosby © Paul Crosby © Paul Crosby + 16

  • Architects Authors of this architecture project HGA
  • Area Area of this architecture project
    47,038 ft2
  • Project Year Brands with products used in this architecture project
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
  • Design Team

    Nancy Blankfard, Andy Weyenberg
  • Photographs

    • Structural Engineer

      Sarah Jorczk, Gina Boogren
    • Mechanical Engineer

      Craig Lemma, Scott Lichty
    • Electrical Engineer

      Helen Peterson
    • Civil Engineer

      Erik Hansen
    • Interior Designer

      Rich Bonnin, Laurie Rother
    • Landscape Architect

      Ross Altheimer ASLA, LEED AP, Erica Christenson
    • Lighting Designer

      Tao Ham, Chrysanthi Stockwell
    More Specs Less Specs

    Text description provided by the architects. The Nelson Cultural Center addition at the American Swedish Institute (ASI), designed by HGA Architects and Engineers (HGA), was completed this summer and builds upon ASI’s 83-year history, culture and commitment to the community.

    © Paul Crosby
    © Paul Crosby

    Long a vibrant destination and gathering place for Swedish Americans in Minneapolis’s culturally diverse Phillips West Neighborhood, ASI recently acquired the entire block on which it’s sited, wishing to enhance their mission, broaden their connection to the community, and encourage neighborhood rejuvenation with the addition of the Nelson Cultural Center. The addition supports this rejuvenation with an expanded campus that connects to the neighborhood, unifies the city block, projects a cohesive urban place for community gathering, and reflects ASI’s vision for the future while respecting its past.

    © Paul Crosby
    © Paul Crosby

    The design process was driven by a holistic approach to building sustainable communities, aligned with ASI’s mission to serve as a gathering place for all people, to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts.

    © Paul Crosby
    © Paul Crosby

    Inspired by the distinct beauty of the historic Turnblad Mansion and the unique history of Swedish architecture, the design considers contemporary and traditional Swedish aesthetics while prioritizing the use of sustainable strategies and technologies. The design begins with a traditional Swedish gård-- courtyard or farmyard--that serves as a central outdoor “living room” uniting the Nelson Cultural Center with its predecessor- fondly known as “The Castle.” The addition unfolds around the courtyard, opening to the community, and framing views of the historic mansion. This courtyard serves as a central outdoor “living room” for ASI and the greater community, while uniting the new building and its historic predecessor.

    © Paul Crosby
    © Paul Crosby

    The architectural details relate stories of Swedish culture and local history, from the addition’s slate façade that parallels the same slate on the mansion’s roof to the Swedish art-glass inspired entry, custom tile by local craftsmen, large-format trompe-l’oeil textile commissioned for the lobby, handrails wrapped in leather by a local saddle maker, and nautical-themed wood ceiling in the event space inspired by the Stockholm City Hall’s timber roof.

    © Paul Crosby
    © Paul Crosby

    Collaboration with Swedish artists and architects informed the design of the Nelson Cultural Center and grounds, which incorporate contemporary and traditional Swedish aesthetics while prioritizing community sensitivity and sustainable initiatives. These initiatives, influenced by Sweden’s broad commitment to sustainability and recognized by the King and Queen at the recent Royal Dedication Ceremony, include the use of natural landscapes, vegetated roofs, low potable and irrigation water usage, a holistic approach to energy reduction including ground source geothermal heating and cooling, and an exceptional occupant experience. To ensure achievement of verifiable results, the project is pursuing LEED Gold certification, and would be the first museum in the Minnesota to achieve this status.

    © Paul Crosby
    © Paul Crosby

    The 34,000-square-foot, two-level Center complements the Turnblad Mansion—added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971—with contemporary, sustainable architecture that strengthens ASI’s evolving mission. Designed as an architecturally compatible addition to an historic landmark, the addition has transformed an entire city block into an inspiring urban space and new cultural campus.


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    Project location

    Address: Minneapolis, MN, USA

    Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
    About this office
    Cite: "Nelson Cultural Center / HGA" 14 Dec 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
    © Paul Crosby


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