The times, they are a-changing in Dinkytown, USA.
Bob Dylan’s old neighborhood just north of the University of Minnesota campus today blends bohemian coffee houses with modern student housing. And none is more in-demand than The Marshall. The 590,000 s.f. project opened recently as the largest off-campus housing development in the state, filling one and a half blocks with 316 apartment units and upscale amenities including high-end apartment finishes, fitness center, indoor pool, indoor basketball court, sand volleyball court, computer lab and underground parking for 300 vehicles. The project also includes a 28,000 s.f. retail space, anchored by a first-of-its kind, 20,200 s.f. Target Express store.
Developed by owner/developer GEM Realty and EdR, with architectural design by BKV Group Architects, The Marshall represents the strong collaborative effort that addressed diverse challenges and considerations.
The project is named for the old Marshall High School, which was demolished in late 2012 to make way for the housing project. Reclaimed boards from the school’s gymnasium and ornamental concrete molding from a doorway have been repurposed as architectural accents in the new complex, nostalgic reminders of the old community in a complex designed to foster a new one.
The Marshall’s eclectic design presents a series of connected buildings ranging from four to seven stories, with a façade that incorporates fibrous concrete, rain screen, brick and assorted metal panels in a variety of colors. The buildings surround one ground level and two elevated, landscaped open-air plazas. Skyways link non-adjacent buildings, promoting social connectivity. Balconies face both the courtyards and the street, leveraging Dinkytown’s active social scene.
Units include two-level townhomes as well as individual apartments, ranging from one to four bedrooms with most units having a private bathroom for each bedroom. Each unit is fully furnished and features granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, washers and dryers. The entire complex contains 821 bedrooms, 60 dens, and 997 bathrooms.
Construction began in February 2013 and ran on schedule despite the abnormally challenging winter weather and summer rain.
“We’re fortunate in that we’ve surrounded ourselves with a lot of very good tradesmen and a lot of high quality subcontractors,” said Allen Zaffke, lead project superintendent.
Key considerations revolved around working on a tight, one-block space within the confines of a congested neighborhood with high pedestrian, bicycle and car traffic. Because the outer walls of the building extend to the city property line on three sides of the project, sidewalks had to be closed to pedestrians. Barriers were set up to create temporary pedestrian paths around the construction site. All material deliveries and trucking activities were prescheduled to keep the public safe.
Other unique challenges of the project included creation of the elevated plazas, which required lifting all the dirt, landscaping and concrete onto two isolated deck areas. In addition, the application of the exterior skin required hydraulic lifts, which in turn created load challenges over the underground garage decks. An intensive shoring system was set up to accommodate the equipment load.
At a much lower profile, but no less important was the storm sewer infrastructure. The project required a 100-year design for a 380-foot storm pipe located directly under the building site. Crews encased the 42-inch PVC pipe inside a 60-inch steel casing and pumped in grout. One fourth of the construction trailer had to be removed to put the pipe in.
The project was completed on schedule, in time for fall 2014 semester at the U.