Building WELL into the Future

Nov 01, 2017

Written by: Jennifer Kruse, McGough

WELL 1.jpgFrom the ruins of a mid-century five-and-dime store emerges ”The 428” – a building for the next generation. The 428 building, originally occupied by F.W. Woolworths in St. Paul, MN, is now amid a major transformation. Commercial Real Estate Services (CRES) recently embarked on an adventure to renovate the 1950s building, which has been sitting vacant for over 24 years, into a modern industrial business hub. To create a building that is both innovative and attractive for the future generation of businesses, the building will be getting more than just a face lift from HDR Architects and McGough Construction.

While recognizing that a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification through the United States Green Building Council is the pinnacle standard in green building and energy efficiencies, CRES also wants to incorporate a cutting-edge innovation to create a building that will contribute to capturing and retaining talented employees. They envision The 428 being a building of the future, not just the status quo. While LEED is known for its focus on energy efficiency and the environment, WELL is a new building certification that focuses on the health and wellbeing of the occupants of the building. This is a concept in business that has started to be recognized at the design and construction stage of development.

Over an extended period, the cost of constructing a building is estimated to be only 2% of the cost of operations, while the cost of doing business is estimated to be 90%. The cost of doing business includes employee salaries, sick time, etc. To improve employee performance, companies are incorporating employee wellness programs as part of the benefits package infrastructure.

The 428 will incorporate wellness into the bones of its structure through a variety of health features recognized through the Seven Concepts of WELL: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind. These concepts focus on health and how wellness affects different body systems: Cardiovascular, Digestive, Endocrine, Immune, Integumentary, Muscular, Nervous, Reproductive, Respiratory, Skeletal, and Urinary. There are several features of WELL, both visible and invisible, built-in into the structure that are worth noting.

WELL 2.jpgThe existing building’s heavy exterior currently has limited windows except for the store-front glass on the street level and a few additional windows sprinkled throughout the upper third level. The renovation will completely remove the current exterior and replace it with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides to allow for ample daylight throughout the building. The design is also incorporating a fourth level and a partial rooftop annex with floor-to-ceiling glass that will house a collaborative working space.

The newly renovated 65,000-square foot building will have a communal rooftop space with a wider and more accessible stairway to promote use and movement, floor-to-ceiling curtain wall for maximum daylighting, sound deadening glass to keep out excessive traffic noise, planters, bike storage, bike repair stations, and showers in the lower level. The interior lighting will respond to the daylighting of outside and will also follow a person’s natural circadian rhythm, adjusting for the amount and color of light at the correct time of day.

This building will attract tenants with a progressive forward-thinking mindset - businesses that understand that you can increase productivity without increasing your overhead and staff simply by creating a place of work that is comfortable and effortless to be in.

The 428 is slated to be complete late spring or early summer of 2018. The project is anticipated to be the first building to accomplish both LEED Silver and WELL Core and Shell compliance in Minnesota.

Welcome to our WELL Building adventure!


To learn more about the WELL Building Certification, click here

To learn more about the local WELL Collaborative, click here.

Category: Industry Insights

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