Archive | August, 2012

John’s Pizza Cafe

John’s Pizza Cafe

Posted on 13 August 2012 by robwas66

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Hamline’s ‘Living Room’

Posted on 11 August 2012 by robwas66

New University Center designed for ‘collaboration’

At 133,163 square feet, including underground parking, the Center is the largest construction project that has been done on the campus. The third floor also offers a terrace with native plants and grasses. The green aspects of the building, especially the roof, have been created with help from Ken Dehkes, director of Facilities Operations and Horticulture Services. Dehkes has a background in horticulture, landscape management and design. (Photo by Stefanie Berres)


The first thing that strikes you as you enter the new Anderson University Center at Hamline University is the incredible view, magnified by the open spaces throughout the building.

At 133,163 square feet, including underground parking, the Center is the largest construction project that has been done on the campus.

The entrance on Snelling Avenue leads to an airy, spacious area with a store, the Spirit Shop, on the right where university gear can be purchased. With an information and welcoming desk on the left, visitors can walk in and use a number of computers available, watch an overhead television for the latest news or purchase a latte from the Starbucks.

“This floor is designated as a gathering space,” said Hamline student Marie Harmon, as she provides an informational tour of the new building. “We have not had one on campus. This center is energetic, yet clean. There is a real sense of community.”

She said the television is there for students to look up and see what’s happening. “We want them to be informed,” she said.

Throughout the open spaces are collections of chairs, encouraging people to be comfortable and relax. The rooms are in serene colors, beige and dark red walls, but the chairs provide a splash of bright color. And from almost anywhere in this gathering space, students and visitors can look out and see the impressive Old Main, the first building that was built on the campus.

“This is Hamline’s living room,” Harmon explained. This first floor also features a health privacy room for mothers who may need it, or for anyone dealing with a health issue. An outdoor patio provides more seating space, and a memorial that is being dedicated to Civil War participants is being erected near the Center. Smaller rooms are available on a first come, first served basis for more private study or conversations.

A circular staircase leads to the second floor, which provides dining facilities for 500. “That’s four times bigger than our old dining space,” Harmon said.

According to Lowell Bromander, associate vice president for facilities services, the Center opened Aug. 10 to the public

“We had football players arriving Aug. 11, and we had to be ready to feed them,” he said.

The building, which was designed by the Shepley Bulfinch Firm, had McGough Construction as the principal contractor. There are as few right angles as possible in the design.

Diners can use their meal plan to purchase meals in the dining room, as well as items from Starbucks. People can also bring in their own box lunches, use a microwave if needed, and sit at a table and eat their fare. The public can purchase food in the dining area, as well.

The third floor offers meeting rooms, a conference space and offices for campus organizations.

“Our focus is on student involvement,” Harmon emphasized. There is a tear-drop shaped room designated for meditation, complete with pillows and mats. The third floor also offers a terrace with native plants and grasses. The outdoor furniture is expected to arrive in late August, and can remain outdoors through the winter.

“The roof has permeable tiles,” Harmon said, “that can catch rainwater.”

The green aspects of the building, especially the roof, have been created with help from Ken Dehkes, director of Facilities Operations and Horticulture Services. Dehkes has a background in horticulture, landscape management and design.

“There was a multi-disciplined and team approach to the whole design,” he said. “We want to make sure the building is sustainable and maintainable for a long time.”

“One of the things that is so nice about this building is how much natural daylight there is,” Dehkes continued. “It’s just really neat. The openness and space are nice features.” Almost 75 per cent of the daylight throughout the building is natural. The building boasts solar panels and high performance glass and lighting.

“We had never had a green roof on campus before, so when it was proposed we knew we wanted to integrate as many sustainable features as we could,” Dehkes said.

They looked around at systems for growing plants. Dehkes said Hamline wanted to use local products, and with the significant transportation costs, did not want to have things delivered from some place 600 miles away.

“Bachman’s had distribution rights for a system that has been used three years called LiveRoof,” Dehkes explained. “The plants are pre-grown, delivered in plant trays and assembled on the roof.”

The plants were chosen for insulation, to absorb heat better and for storm water control. Instead of standard plant trays, four inches in depth, Bachman’s used a six-inch tray system, the first in the state.

Grasses, coneflowers and day lilies were chosen along with native grasses.

“We started propagating the plants into trays in August 2011,” Dehkes said. “The plants were grown through the fall and then placed in a greenhouse for the winter months.”

He said they were put together on the roof, somewhat like dominos or a jigsaw puzzle.

In May of this year the plant trays were lifted up by a crane to the University Center’s roof. “Doug from Bachmann’s and I worked with the roofing company, directing the placement of the plants,” Dehkes related.

The entire construction project for the Anderson Center, named in honor of its major donors, Carol and Dennis Anderson, took 16 months. “We broke ground on March 14, 2011,” Bromander said. A dedication is planned for Oct. 5 and an open house for Oct. 6.

“We’re very excited to have the front door of the Center open to Snelling Avenue,” Bromander said. “The Anderson Center is a connection point for us to the Midway community. The core sense of the building is about collaboration.”

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City Council votes to support Charles Avenue bike improvements

Posted on 11 August 2012 by robwas66

Traffic circles like this one are designed to calm traffic and make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly. Last week the City Council voted to support Charles Avenue bike improvements to enhance safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. (Photo by Stefanie Berres)


Bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements for Charles Avenue between Park and Aldine streets will calm traffic and make the area safer. Or will they hurt businesses, make it less safe for cyclists and simply push traffic to other neighborhood streets? Those opposing views were heard before the St. Paul City Council voted 5-2 to support the 3-½ mile project.

In moving support for the project, Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark said his office and city staff worked hard to find a compromise. He said one issue that emerged is that “as neighbors, we need to reach out earlier and more often to businesses.”

Stark said he believes the project will have benefits and will not have negative impacts businesses fear. More than 100 people, wearing printed badges to show support or opposition jammed the Council chambers for the public hearing. Supporters included Charles Avenue residents from Hamline-Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods and bicyclists who worked for many months to get the project approved. They held block parties and events that drew more than 900 people as they sought ideas.

But opponents included other residents of Charles and surrounding streets who said the project isn’t needed or will affected neighborhood streets. A large group, including Midway Chamber of Commerce, came out to support Snelling Avenue businesses that fear losing customer access when the Charles-Snelling crossing is blocked with a median. The median will be built to allow bikes and pedestrians to safely wait for traffic to clear, and for emergency vehicles to get through. But Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell Funeral Home, Ellis Drum Shop and Holiday Station are among those fearing they will lose business as customers cannot made left turns from southbound Snelling.

The median changes will be among the first made. The project is to be completed by the end of 2015. By then nine traffic circles and other changes should be made, as funding becomes available. The project also calls for more signage, street markings and corner bumpouts. One goal is to have Charles become a more “green” street.

As what is described as a compromise, the City Council did agree to reopen Snelling and Sherburne. Business representatives questioned how that would help. Stark also urged city staff to work with the businesses on either temporary or permanent directional signage.

Since 2010 Charles has been identified as a potential bike-walk route paralleling Central Corridor. It would connect to other routes via Aldine, Pascal, Park and eventually Griggs Street.

Attorney Ferdinand Peters represents Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell. While his clients support the bicycle improvements, they are very opposed to the median and the potential impacts on their business. So is Ellis Drum Shop, said owner Tim Ellis.

“This would absolutely hurt, hurt my business,” Ellis said. “I can’t sell a drum set to someone on a bicycle.”

Some speakers asked why Thomas or Minnehaha avenues aren’t used, as those have signalized crossings at Snelling. “Why not look at Thomas?” said Charles resident John Smetana. “Isn’t that the best place for people to cross the street?”

Hamline-Midway resident and bicyclist advocate Benita Warns said it’s wrong to block off intersections and hurt businesses. She said traffic circles are a bad idea, noting she and her husband were almost struck while biking when a motorist didn’t negotiate a traffic circle correctly.

“We don’t like the fact that business is being further impeded,” said Paul McGinley of Midway Chamber of Commerce. Businesses have already been hurt by light rail construction. He also said that using Sherburne as an alternative puts pedestrians at risk there.

But supporters said they don’t believe the changes will have the negative impacts feared and instead will have many benefits for the neighborhood. Hamline-Midway resident Lars Christiansen said the project will not only make the street calmer, it also helps meet goals including place-making and community building. He said an “unprecedented” number of people weighed in in support of the project.

“The intent is to make the street safer for all users,” said Jessica Treat, Hamline-Midway resident and executive director of St. Paul Smart Trips.

“The light rail project effectively kicks bicycles off of University Avenue,” said Andrew Singer, a bicyclist and member of the St. Paul Bicycle Coalition.

Several speakers in support of the project said that diverting bikes to Thomas or other streets is contrary to the project’s purpose. “Even going a block or two out of your way is inefficient,” said Hamline Midway resident Nancy Fischer.

“The Snelling median is one of the most integral pieces to making this work,” said Hamline-Midway resident Matthew Lang.

“I think there’s actually huge pent-up demand for people who want to do more biking and walking, but right now, we don’t know what that is, because they don’t find it safe,” said council member Stark, who lives in the 1500 block of Charles Avenue.

Council members Dave Thune and Dan Bostrom voted against the project. Thune is worried about use of an unsignalized crossing at Snelling, saying, “I think somebody is going to get splattered.”

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