Millwright Building Minneapolis, Minn.


Architect & General Contractor: Ryan Companies | Precaster: Gage Brothers

Project Details: Cost: $30,000,000 • 26,000 square feet of architectural precast panels • 225 pieces with cast-in Belden Belcrest thin-brick • Precast Production Start Date: July 2016 • Precast Erection Completion Date: August 2016 • Project Completion Date: March 2017

The Millwright Building is a four-story, approximately 174,000 square-foot office building located in the Downtown East neighborhood, which has had a key role in the growth and evolution of the city of Minneapolis. At the turn of the 19th century, many of the mill workers lived in Downtown East, a short walk to the nearby Mill District. The building is constructed abutting Wells Fargo towers from the south, and thus restricted to four stories high to allow for north facing tower windows. An entry tower was designed with a set back from Portland Avenue to provide an entry plaza that enhances the walk to the park experience along Portland Avenue.

The building was designed in the style of authentic brick historic warehouses of Minneapolis, with arched windows and steel-alike divided windows, and has been carefully detailed to enforce the perception of an old building that blends in with Minneapolis historic Mill district.

"The highlight of the project was the tumbled rough brick that was used with inconsistent mortar joints, which gave the façade an older traditional look."

To achieve that historic look, careful selection of the brick, steel, and windows was crucial. Though the initial inclination was to build the envelope with hand laid brickwork, schedule challenges dictated using precast with thin brick. The tumbled rough edge Belden brick was the perfect match that met design intent, and the façade was detailed with meticulous consideration to hide control joints and define precast panel and window sizing. Multiple options for mortar color, texture and mix were considered to achieve the desired aesthetic, along with experimenting with different liner options and extent of brick wash to balance the desired vintage look of the building façade.

"Using precast saved two months in construction schedule time, which allowed early occupancy and two months of income that helped the budget. Having Gage Brothers involved early in design phases greatly helped finalizing details early and further saved on schedule duration." - Ayman Arafa, AIA, Ryan Companies

All original cornices and moldings were detailed and incorporated within the precast panels. Caulking colors varied between horizontal and vertical joints to resemble an authentic look and minimize joint perception. The precast joints in the arches are barely discernible to the naked eye. Precast panel ties and connections were carefully designed to allow for the exposed structural concept on the interiors. Building amenities include a rooftop terrace, a building commons, bike-friendly features, skyway access and convenient access to the nearby public greenspace.

The Millwright Building name and the modern yet classic design honor the City’s history while contributing to the renewed energy and vitality stimulated by the Downtown East development.

"Gage Brothers was great to work with and greatly helped find unique solutions to execute on the required details. Their professional team helped finish the project on time and budget." - Ayman Arafa
Millwright Building: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Created By
Stephanie Pendrys


Gage Brothers & Cipher Imaging