McNamara Alumni Center
The McNamara Alumni Center, also known as the Gateway Building, at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota is one of the more architecturally striking buildings in the area. Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction began the 230,000-square-foot (21,000 m2) complex in March 1998 and completed construction in February 2000. The University owns the land, but the University of Minnesota Gateway Corporation, comprised of the Alumni Association, U of M Foundation and Medical Foundation, owns the structure.
Located at the intersection of University Avenue and Oak Street SE (200 SE Oak St, Minneapolis, MN 55414), the landmark building occupies land formerly home to Memorial Stadium and its interior features an arch that was once an entrance to the stadium. Outside is a small water pool and fountain, although it operates only a limited number of months because of the region's climate. The building opened in February 2000 and is named for Richard McNamara, a 1956 alumnus of the university and former football player.
University officials chose architect Antoine Predock in 1996 to design the structure. KKE Architects of Minneapolis served as the project's executive architect and general manager. The university held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the complex during November 1997.
The building contains two main components: office space and a public reception area. About 75,000 square feet (7,000 m2) of copper clads the rectangular portion where university offices are located, including those of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. Granite supported by 500 steel beams forms an asymmetrical geode-styled area of the building featuring an interior public Memorial Hall, 85-foot (26 m) tall. Some 2,200 rose-colored granite blocks weighing up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg) each form the geode's exterior. The structure required 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of granite.
Inside the hall, a series of balconies and a stairway joining the fourth and fifth floors extend from the office section into the reception area. The open expanse of the Memorial Hall's interior is partially sheathed with the same copper as the exterior in addition to 6 miles (9.7 km) of hemlock planks.
Some 900 events annually are held in the center's public spaces, including the expansive Memorial Hall, the Heritage Gallery, or in conference and meeting rooms, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The rock band Incubus used the Memorial Hall during the taping of its music videotrack "Drive", which was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.
The rental demand for special event spaces at the center and growth in operations of the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation, both housed in the center, prompted the University of Minnesota Board of Regents to approve a $9.7 million expansion. The addition, designed by Predock, included office and event space as well as an expanded restaurant. Construction began in 2009 to coincide with the opening of the adjacent TCF Bank Stadium with funding provided by the ownership consortium. The addition was completed in 2010 and created an additional 4,500 square feet (420 m2) of space allowing for improved traffic flow in the building and reducing foot traffic through events, specifically in Memorial Hall.
In addition, the building hosts pregame festivities prior to each home football game.
The building was criticized for many reasons while under construction. Parking has always been in short supply on campus, and a park adjacent to the facility removed a campus lot. The university constructed a new parking ramp nearby to help alleviate this problem.
- "Building History. McNamara Alumni Center". University of Minnesota. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
- Shelman, Jeff (September 13, 2008). "U regents OK plans to expand Alumni Center". Star-Tribune. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- "Alumni Center Timeline" (PDF). University of Minnesota. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
- "Dream Come True" (PDF). University of Minnesota. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
- "The Geode by Vicki Stavig" (PDF). University of Minnesota. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
- "McNamara Alumni Center". University of Minnesota. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
- "D'Amico and Sons Cafe". McNamara Alumni Center. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- "Facilities Committee: McNamara Alumni Center Expansion Schematic Plans" (PDF). Office of the Board of Regents. September 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2008.[dead link]
- "McNamara Alumni Center Expands Meeting Space, Celebrates Meeting Space Expansion". Minnesota Meetings + Events. Retrieved October 4, 2011.[dead link]
- "Pre-Game Parties". McNamara Alumni Center. Retrieved August 3, 2015.