Roots / F9 Productions

Courtesy of F9 Productions

A project for Downtown Fargo: an urban infill competition in North Dakota, F9 Productions began with the question: what would make Fargo grow? They are asking people to imagine if a prairie could become a building’s coat, what could it look like? Can the mighty Red River inform how pedestrians flow though the site? And what form can symbolize the regions enduring strength?

Their solution is to capitalize on the very resources that have been fertilizing this area for the past 100 years – its people and its local businesses. The proposed design is to infuse downtown Fargo with two big box stores that have, that in the recent past, fled to the suburbs. By bringing in Scheels and Trader Joes, along with a much needed Children’s Museum and prominent public plaza they aim to resurrect the downtown life that was once there. More images and architect’s description after the break.

Flow: The Red River Road “the Pearl Street of North Dakota” carves a secondary access through the site leading pedestrians to Trader Joes, Schools, Restaurants, and a Kids Museum. Connecting all four sides of the site together. Rise: Standing tall like an elevator, the tower holds the future seeds of North Dakota – Its People. Ingrained: Forever etched in the facades are an echo of the landscape and a way of life – the great plains.


Project ROOTS is the physical manifestation of a community’s resources, history, ambition, vibrancy, and potential represented in a design. The building – like roots – pulls nutrients into its core. By pulling people into the center of downtown with; events, ice-skating and sledding (in the winter), swimming and tanning (in the summer), movies at night and providing open space, picnic areas, parking, big box stores, restaurants, business, and housing, this building helps give downtown the nourishment it needs – people.

grain elevator

The crucial step was to sink the parking underground. By sinking the parking underground the entire first level becomes open to pedestrians and allows the site to accommodate; a pool, a playing fountain, and four locations of stadium seating for concerts, movies, and local events. This provides a community gathering place that has the potential to be a regional icon. The main level can now offer more lineal feet of store frontage attracting more retailers.

the prairie

Power: Just as North Dakota’s grasslands transform the sun’s rays into sustenance; photovoltaic cells are embedded into the tower’s glass and on the roofs converting the suns energy into power. The buildings foundation caissons are laced with geothermal heat connectors furthering the sustainability of the building.


Orientation and Form: The building’s heights cascade from tallest on the northern most edge of the site to shortest on the southern most \edge thus allowing the sun to fill the plaza and the parks. The tower is set on the northeast corner of the site respecting Broadway’s scale and access to light. The tower also takes advantage of the warm southern exposure by collecting solar heat gain and electricity on the roofs in its east/west orientation.


The main attraction of the third floor is the two level butterfly aviary. One can enjoy nature over a meal in the Aviary Restaurant/Bar inside of the netted off area with the butterflies or outside the netted area.

plaza level

A much needed Daycare services the downtown area during the workweek. On the weekend the space transforms into a Children’s Museum. The former Daycare classroom interior walls collapse to make themed rooms. The main two story space converts into a House of Bounce.

2nd level

Designer: F9 Productions Project team: Alex Gore, Lance Cayko, Eric Albrightson, Matthew Perry Location: Fargo, North Dakota, United States Client: Downtown Fargo: an urban infill competition

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Cite: Alison Furuto. "Roots / F9 Productions" 17 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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