Lake Lorraine development product of vision, local support and plenty of precast

Where deer leave tracks and hawks circle overhead a frozen lake, there once was stripped earth cluttered with the machinery gouging gravel from just beneath the surface.

Just a short stroll from Lake Lorraine, construction crews put the finishing touches on a luxurious active retirement community and the new corporate headquarters for one of the nation’s fastest growing automotive classified websites. Boutique shops and retail bookend both structures, with more businesses on the way.

The transformation of Lake Lorraine’s acres into a premier lifestyle center belies their noisy, industrial history and reflects a change of fortune for the former gravel pit.

It took Warren Friessen fifteen years to acquire the 130-acre parcel now known as Lake Lorraine, located south of 26th Street, west of I-29 and east of Marion Road. The pit provided the owner of Friessen Construction with essential building materials for several commercial projects in western Sioux Falls. His first land purchase in the 1970s, a 55-acre parcel chunk, was used as the source of aggregate for the base of Interstate 29. He tapped into a big vein of sand on that was used in building projects including Target, Empire East, Billion Automotive and Sioux Falls Ford.

Friessen extracted the remaining gravel in 1987 to expand Marion Road from a two-lane rural road to a three-lane paved road.

Opportunity is the Quarry

The obvious question remained once the gravel was extracted: what to do with a giant hole that resembled Paul Bunyan’s empty bathtub?

But where others might have seen little more than a deep scar on the Earth’s skin, Friessen saw a pockmarked land of opportunity. The thought of a finished lake community had been stored in the back of his mind for years while he mined sand and gravel.

He decided to make his hole in the ground a showcase of what can be done when reclaiming industrial land.

The idea may not qualify as revolutionary, but it’s quite a leap from years gone by. Before regulators stepped in, it was common for gravel pit owners to dig the deposits and leave.

“In the old days, to just walk away from a pit wasn’t that big of a deal. But now the land value is substantial, especially once it’s redeveloped,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley, who has experience carving a new use out of old quarries.

com_lakelorrainebldgborder_1054x5262Gage Brothers produced thousands of square feet of precast for Centennial Lakes in Edina (MN), a 100-acre mixed-use development that replaced a large gravel pit in the late 1990’s.

Other former gravel pits throughout the country have been turned into golf courses, recreational areas, strawberry fields and nature preserves.

Kelley added, “I think the public is excited to see this kind of commitment from our business community.  Mr. Friessen was not comfortable leaving an eyesore behind for the people of Sioux Falls, and we are happy to help him redevelop the land in a way that should have a positive impact on the community.”

The conversion of the pit into a manmade lake took close to 20 years. Almost three-quarters of a million yards of sand were hauled out of the “Terry Pit,” as it was affectionately referred to by Friessen Construction employees.

lake-lorraine-07-28-15resize-for-web-450xautoLake Lorraine spans 22 acres on the Skunk Creek aquifer and is spring fed. The lake was christened Lake Lorraine in 2001, and the name holds a special meaning for the Friessen family. Lorraine is the middle name of Warren’s wife, Hilda, and also his granddaughter’s name.

A Sioux Falls Story

Residential and commercial construction was poised to follow Lake Lorraine’s completion. But that development momentum stalled in 2008 when the economy receded.

In 2014, the Friessen family partnered with Van Buskirk Companies, another family-owned business with deep Sioux Falls ties. They set their sights on developing the Lake Lorraine property into the largest lifestyle center in South Dakota.

0e809a_aa23e098f2f240ce9370556cf6dbb937The former gravel pit is now well on its way to a long awaited renewal and serves as the prime attraction for investors and end users alike with retail, residential, assisted living, hospitality, corporate center and office interest coming at a dramatic pace.

To date, Gage Brothers has been awarded job contracts totaling more than 126,000-square feet of precast concrete products.

“Whenever possible, Van Buskirk Construction invests in local suppliers to help promote the local economy,” said Chad Van Buskirk, Director of Commercial Construction.

There’s close to 200 combined years of construction experience in Sioux Falls between Friessen Construction (1968), Van Buskirk Companies (1971) and Gage Brothers (1915).

“Gage Brothers is not only locally owned but also a well-respected company that produces quality products,” added Van Buskirk.

The Lake Lorraine mixed-use development is being built with a vast array of Gage Brothers precast products: hollow corefloor slabs, precast beams/columns, architectural cladding, grey wall panels, solid grey shear walls and stair landings.

Phase I of the Lake Lorraine Lifestyle Centre involved the completion of two fully occupied Marketplace malls along Marion Road.

Com_LakeLorraineBldgBorder_1054x5262.jpgIt also included Grand Living at Lake Lorraine, a new senior living community that will open this spring. The 200,000-square-foot, four-story building will include well-appointed residences, a wellness center, and offices for medical providers and several dining venues. More than 30,000 square of Gage Brothers products were used for the facility’s fire separation cap above the underground parking.
Sioux Falls-based’s new digs will be something similar to what a tech company might build in Silicon Valley. Beyond the cutting-edge employee amenities (golf simulators, foosball tables) the new headquarters will stand close to the lake, giving employees the chance to get a breath of fresh air or log some lunchtime exercise. The exterior of the building features Gage Brothers high-end architectural cladding in a variety of colors and finishes.

Phase II includes the Shoppes at Lake Lorraine, 168,000-square feet of space that will be occupied by six national retailers. The six tenants have been named: Ross Dress for Less, Hobby Lobby, Carter’s/OshKosh B’gosh, DWS, Marshalls and HomeGoods. The retail boxes will be constructed with 65,000-square feet of Gage Brothers load-bearing precast panels.

com_lakelorrainebldgborder_1054x5262This phase will also include the Lorraine Professional Center and the completion of a third Marketplace mall, among other projects.

Gage Brothers is also the precaster of record for two large projects that flank Lake Lorraine: the new Avera Medical Group Family Health Center and the future home of Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln. They produced stair tower panels for the 84,000-square foot medical center, which houses South Dakota’s first freestanding emergency department. The new Sioux Falls Ford dealership is currently being built with 45,000-square feet of hollowcore plank and load-bearing insulated wall panels.

Strong Partnerships Breed Success

Gage Brothers’ relationship with Friessen Construction dates back to the Gerald Ford administration. They have also produced precast products for several Van Buskirk projects since 1976, including precast columns for the third First Bank & Trust branch in Sioux Falls.

According to Kelley, these business relationships, fueled by collaboration and trust, were an essential ingredient for Lake Lorraine’s success. Having the right people involved at the right time was also fundamental to the project.

“Gage Brothers’ early involvement with Friessen Construction and Van Buskirk Companies was the ultimate catalyst for success,” said Kelley. “This proactive approach allowed us to meet design expectations and keep the project on schedule and within budget.”

“Gage Brothers has built an excellent team that is easy to work with and provides us with flexibility and options in our design,” said Van Buskirk. “In the case of the Lake Lorraine project, they did a great job working with limited information on a fast track project.”

636196431838486435-lorraineThe next phase of the Lake Lorraine development was created with a ‘Main Street’ feel, including lakeside dining, hotels and other unique retail concepts.

Further improvements to the west side of the lake will include the addition of docks, benches and a play area.

“Besides all the building construction, we’ll also be creating the walking paths, picnic areas and green spaces that will be the hallmark of Lake Lorraine. It’s going to be something very special,” added Steve Van Buskirk, Director of Land Development for Van Buskirk Companies.

“Lake Lorraine is a great project for our company,” said Kelley. “It’s been fun to be part of a team that has turned an old gravel pit into something more beautiful and beneficial for the entire community.”


Gage Brothers Strategic Partner Profile: Kraus-Anderson

It’s not often that you get more than 200 years of combined experience to bear on a building project. That’s the depth of knowledge a client receives when Gage Brothers Concrete and Kraus-Anderson Construction join forces.

For more than a century, Gage Brothers Concrete has used superior craftsmanship to create precast products built to stand the test of time as well as provide maximum design freedom and flexibility to our clients.

Our story began in 1915, when William Gage, Sr., began pouring concrete sidewalks in Sioux Falls. Gage Brothers Concrete was incorporated by Gage’s sons, Albert and William Jr., in 1946.

Gage Brothers has evolved in step with the changing times and advancements in construction technology. A small company that poured miles of sidewalks during the Depression years has evolved into an industry innovator with a product line that includes thin-brick systems, CarbonCast architectural panels and ARCIS ultra-thin panels.

Kraus-Anderson Construction Company also builds on more than 100 years of construction history.

Minneapolis YMCA Building

The firm was founded in 1897 as the J.L. Robinson Company by James L. Robinson, who was responsible for several Minneapolis buildings near the turn of the century.  A tribute to Robinson’s workmanship is the Gothic-Revival style YMCA Central building in downtown Minneapolis. Built in 1919, the 12-story structure was converted to apartments in 1994 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1929, Robinson sold his namesake company to a pair of employees, Mathew Kraus and Amos Andersen. Lloyd Engelsma purchased Kraus-Anderson in 1938 and the company has been owned and managed by the Engelsma family for more than 70 years.

Today, Kraus-Anderson is one of the Midwest’s largest commercial general contractors and a Top 50 mainstay in the Engineering-News Record’s list of the top 100 general contractors in the United States.

And according to Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley, KA is also one of the most and respected construction firms in the country.

“We take a team approach to all of our projects, and KA has always been a valuable partner because we both recognize the expertise the other brings to the table,” said Kelley. “They also have a long-term perspective that is invaluable in our industry.”

A partnership formed out of respect and shared experience has resulted in Gage Brothers and Kraus-Anderson collaborating on nearly 50 building projects in the past 44 years; the majority of which are in the North Star State.

Aberdeen Federal Building

The first project to include Gage Brothers and Kraus-Anderson was the federal building in Aberdeen (S.D.) in 1972. That project was followed by the Western Life Insurance building (1976) and 330 2nd Avenue South (1980), an 8-story Minneapolis office formerly known as the Galaxy Building.

One of the most recognized Gage Brothers/KA projects is Edina’s Centennial Lakes, one of the original large urban mixed use redevelopments in Minnesota.

Centennial Lakes

The class “A” office park spans 100 acres and consisted of nine total jobs for Gage Brothers from 1989-1997.

In 1986, Gage Brothers and KA also did work on the old Minneapolis Star-Tribune headquarters on Portland Avenue. The nearly 100-year-old building was demolished late last summer to make way for a 4.2-acre park that leads to the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Other jobs include Macy’s Mall of America (1991), Modern Woodman of America (1993) and the Royal River Casino (1996).

Gage Brothers and KA also brought their development expertise together for the new TRIA Orthopedic Center location in Woodbury, MN. The facility will offer a full range of sports medicine and orthopedic services, including an acute injury clinic and physical therapy.

With similar outlooks on business, Gage Brothers and KA have set themselves apart from their respective industries.

“I think that both companies approach a building project with the intention of exceeding our clients’ expectations for safety, quality and aesthetics,” said Kelley. “It’s the kind of partnership that helps transform the visions of our clients into award-winning projects.”

A New Home for KA

Since its founding in 1897, Kraus-Anderson has grown into one of the largest privately held construction firms in the country and one of the most trusted names.

A clear sign of the KA’s success was their need to accommodate the company’s growth and provide extended sales services to customers.

Artist’s rendering of KA’s new corporate headquarters

A new chapter in the Kraus-Anderson success story began on April 28th, when the company broke ground on its new corporate headquarters facility in at 8th St. and 5th Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

The build-to-suit LEED facility will house approximately 300 employees, doubling the current downtown staff with room for additional expansion down the road.

Designed by Pope Architects, the 5-story, 100,000 sq. ft. building will consolidate KA operations from three separate locations. The new downtown digs will house a wide range of functions, including the company’s construction, realty, development and mortgage operations, as well as the parent corporation, Kraus-Anderson Companies.

The consolidation of these groups makes logistical sense and will provide a collaborative work environment for KA employees.

It will also provide proximity to the city’s strong technology talent pool. A recent study by Los Angeles-based CBRE Group ranked Minneapolis as the 15th top market for tech talent in U.S. and Canadian cities.

Amenities will include spacious conference rooms, a training center, a cafeteria, fitness area and a fifth floor outdoor deck with downtown views.

The plan also includes two levels of underground parking to serve KA’s office employees.

Gage Brothers was awarded the precast contract for KA’s new home earlier this year and will manufacture roughly 24,000 square feet of architectural precast products for the building.

“We have been working with Gage in our exterior planning,” said KA project superintendent Terry Coleman.

The bottom level is fitted with charcoal-colored precast panels, while the second to the fifth floors are clad with buff-colored precast panels with a sandblast finish to achieve an exposed aggregate finish.

Coleman added, “Their active participation in our pull planning sessions has helped us achieve an optimal schedule and their insights identified strategies that reduced the cost of precast by 5%.”

Construction of KA’s new headquarters  

Great weather throughout the fall has led to rapid progress in construction of KA’s new home.  On October 6th, the company topped off its headquarters building with a beam signed by employees. (view the webcam here)

KA’s assertive and strong emphasis on the revitalization of the East Town neighborhood goes beyond their new headquarters. The master plan calls for a mixed-use redevelopment of the company’s current downtown block with rapt attention paid to Portland Avenue.

KA has recently begun the construction of a new 17-story residential tower on Portland Ave., named “H.Q.” Development plans also call for a 160-room hotel called The Elliot, and Finnegan’s microbrewery.

“We’re thrilled to provide the exterior of KA’s new home and to be part of the revitalization of east downtown Minneapolis,” said Kelley.

KA plans to occupy their new home by late 2017.

Kraus-Anderson is just one of many thriving companies that make the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area a hub for headquarters. That corporate list includes such venerable names as UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy, US Bank, 3M and General Mills.

“The strong partnership between Gage Brothers and Kraus-Anderson has been beneficial for both parties,” said Kelley. “We are mutually supportive of each other’s businesses and I expect to continue this relationship for many years to come.”

Gage Brothers carpentry at its best; company named a winner of the 2016 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award

Gage Brothers was recently named a winner of the 2016 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award for its production of panels for the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota.

The purpose of the Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Awards program is to recognize PCI certified plants for excellence in manufacturing and craftsmanship of architectural precast and glass fiber reinforced concrete structures and individual components.

The award is named in honor of Sidney Freedman, longtime PCI Director for Architectural Systems. The award was established in 2012 as a lasting tribute to Freedman’s numerous contributions to the architectural precast community, most notably related to production and quality.

Joe Bunkers (second from left) receives the Sid Freedman Craftsmanship Award from longtime PCI Director Sidney Freedman (second from right).

“We are honored to have received such a prestigious award in today’s competitive and challenging construction environment,” said Joe Bunkers, Vice President of Preconstruction. “Our team of carpenters, led by supervisor Bill Crossley, production manager Gary Steinke and project manager Adam Struck are truly the ones who deserve this award for their dedication and superior workmanship.”

The Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Awards focus on issues such as forming, overcoming obstacles to production, finishing, and quality of individual architectural precast/prestressed units and glass fiber reinforced concrete rather than architectural design. In this regard, the Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Awards differ from the Design Awards and Harry H. Edwards industry Advancement Awards, which recognize architectural design and innovation ideas to advance the industry for completed structures and bridges.

Added Bunkers, “We would like to thank all of our partners involved in this project including HKS, Endicott Brick, Mortenson Construction and Landwehr Construction.”

With nearly a $500 million budget, no expense was spared on the 11-story Sanford Medical Center —which has been described as the largest hospital project in North Dakota history.


Sanford Fargo is the largest contract ever awarded to Gage Brothers. At the final tally, 2,326 panels and 334,480 square feet of precast was manufactured at the Gage Brothers plant in Sioux Falls, while the thin-brick was provided by Nebraska-based Endicott Brick.

The Gage Brothers precast that covers the outside of the hospital ranges in size from 10 pounds to 36,000 pounds (roughly the weight of four Chevrolet Suburban SUVs).

The HKS-designed Sanford Medical Center is a classic collegiate gothic architectural style; Sanford’s chosen design for all its new properties. The look is timeless, low-maintenance and serves as a visual embodiment of Sanford Health. From the arches at the arcade to the spires on top, these details can be seen throughout the soaring, 11-story structure.

Gage Brothers worked directly with HKS for more than two years before construction began to create solutions that adopted craft methods to modern requirements or introduced new technology while retaining the look, scale, and feel of traditional design – human scale. It was a constant push/pull between design preference and constructability.

The end result of this collaboration was a highly detailed façade that Gage Brothers could cast and strip.

Carpenters spent almost 22,000 hours building forms for the project

Using a variety of large and small wood-working tools, the team of Gage Brothers carpenters were able to shape, cut and mold standard dimensional lumber into flutes and scrolled arches.

Gage Brothers printed many templates to use while setting up the forms to help keep everything consistent and aligned. Since some of these panels stacked 10 floors, it was very important to ensure that all the relief and details would align as they ascended the building.

A precast panel with a two-barred Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of Sanford Health

To make this vision into a reality, Gage Brothers carpenters spent 21,968 hours building, placing and changing forms for this project. Gage Brothers cast 2,213 in all for a total of 6,599 yards.

“At HKS Inc., we place tremendous value on the solid and lasting relationships we have with our trusted clients and industry partners,” said Clifford Horsak, HKS Associate Principal and Senior Vice President. “Though modesty is what I saw during the collaborative process, elegance and excellence is what we got in the delivered product.”

He added, “Having Gage Brothers on our next team will allow us to further leverage relationships, best practices, knowledge, and expertise to deliver award winning architecture.”

The other co-winner of the 2016 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award was Forterra Structural & Specialty Products of Irving, Texas. Forterra was recognized for its work on the Payson Utah Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Temple in Payson, Utah.

Both projects represented the finest standards in craftsmanship for PCI-certified plants.

Joe Bunkers received the award on behalf of Gage Brothers earlier this month at the 2016 PCI Committee Days and Membership Conference in Rosemont, Illinois.

With 384 beds and one million square feet, the new Sanford Medical Center Fargo stands as one of the top-10 largest healthcare construction projects in the nation. The new medical center is on schedule to begin seeing its first patients in 2017.

Click here to view more photos of the new Sanford Medical Center- Fargo.

Shakopee High School addition to be built with Gage Brothers precast

Summer came to an early end for students in Shakopee (Minn.) as school got underway on August 22nd in the southwest-metro district — two weeks before Labor Day.

The Shakopee district kicked off classes early to make way for construction on the district’s high school, which is nearly doubling in size to fit 3,200 students from 1,600. With heavy construction starting next summer, the district decided to start school early and end early to have more time for construction.

Shakopee school.jpg
Rendering of the Shakopee High School addition (Wold Architects)

The Shakopee High School addition will span 335,000 square feet and calls for more than 78,000 square feet of Gage Brothers insulated wall panels. The panels will require more than 545 tons of grey cement and have a combined weight of 8,874,548 pounds.

"102,000 s.f. new 7-12 school.  Rozeboom Miller Architects."
Rendering of the Shakopee High School addition (Wold Architects)

Gage Brothers has worked on close to 500 school building projects since the early 1960’s, including more than 50 in Minnesota. Recent work in the North Star state includes Lake Crystal Wellcome school expansion project, Two Harbors High School and Earle Brown Elementary School.

The Wold Architects and Engineers firm has been hired for the multi-million dollar project. Wold also designed the current Shakopee High School building. This is the fifth collaboration for Gage Brothers and Wold since 1988.

The building contract was awarded to Shaw Lundquist Associates, Inc. Shaw-Lundquist is a family owned, minority owned general contractor headquartered in Minnesota. Totaling just over $73 million, the Shakopee High School Addition and Renovation project is the largest project award in Shaw-Lundquist’s history.

MDA/MDH Collocation Laboratory

This is the third building project that Gage Brothers has worked on with Shaw-Lundquist. Previous collaborations consist of a new clinical sciences building for Minnesota State, Mankato (2015) and the collocation laboratory for the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health (2004).

Shakopee residents overwhelmingly supported this renovation project to create a “megaschool,” rather than build another high school to support the growing community.

The Shakopee High School Addition and Renovation project is geared to improve academic and athletic experiences of students under a new learning model: the academy model. The academy model is based on the Academies of Nashville, a learning network that opened 10 years ago and is considered one of the nation’s best academic models. Nashville families have their choice of more than 40 different academies within the 12-zoned high schools.

Under the new academy model at Shakopee, elective courses would be split into six main areas of interest, or six academies: science and technology, engineering and manufacturing, arts and communication, business and entrepreneurship, human services and health sciences. The seventh will be a freshman academy, which will help ninth-graders with the transition to the high school and serve as a home base for them until they choose an interest-based academy of their own.

The goal of academies is to give students the chance to delve into an interest area before they graduate so they get a better idea for what they want to do after high school.

A rendering of the new performance auditorium (Wold Architects)

The design of the school addition (and redesign of some of the existing spaces) will also tie into the new academy model. The traditional classroom setting of 30 desks in neat rows facing the blackboard will disappear for the most part, and in its place will be spaces that encourage collaboration. The addition will be more accommodating to new technology, as well, with group meeting areas that are electricity and internet accessible. Each academy will be housed in its own wing of the school.

The community of Shakopee will benefit with upgraded and technology enhanced classrooms, innovative collaboration spaces, upgraded kitchen facilities, multi-use performance auditoriums, and three new gymnasiums. Two new spaces will be constructed including a 350-seat performance auditorium and a 125-200 seat multi-use flexible performance space.

Outdoor facilities will include a new track and turf field, and expanded plaza area and parking lot, among other updates.

A ground breaking was held in early August, prior to students returning to campus for the 2016-2017 academic year. The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2018.

Innovative student precast housing: Rocker Square I

Rocker Square I is an industrial design, loft-style building that proudly displays the building materials that many try to conceal.

The design showcases neutral tones, exposed ceilings and stained concrete surfaces to give the building an unfinished feel—perfect for a college like the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City.

IMG_7269The six-story student apartment building was built in 2012 to accommodate rising enrollment and is owned by Technology Housing, LLC.

Instrumental in the construction of Rocker Square was Hani Shafai, President of Dream Design International, Inc. and a professional engineer/real estate developer living in Rapid City.

A Mines alumnus (’87), Shafai razed a block full of blight and quickly erected the privately-owned precast concrete structure for students.

Rocker Square I was a true alumni engagement project. Mines alumnus (’74) Jim Scull of Scull Construction was the general contractor, while Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley is a proud member of the School of Mines class of 1980.

Gage Brothers quickly manufactured more than 63,000-sq. ft. of precast concrete for a superior quality and highly efficient building at a cost that rivalled a comparable wood structure.

Rocker Square’s precast components include corefloor, beams & columns, load-bearing end walls and cladding panels.

IMG_4503The apartments were built in five months—in time for students to move-in at the start of the 2012 academic year.

“The precast concrete option allowed us to meet the very short time table for construction,” Shafai explained. “That was very impressive to all involved; the sound proofing and the energy efficiency of the structure made this construction method our choice for future similar projects.”

He added, “Gage Brothers and Scull Construction, and the rest of the project team did a great job meeting the budgets and the project schedule without sacrificing any of the project quality.”

“It was great to have a local developer team with local contractors and suppliers help a local state institution.”

The Rocker Square I apartments are home to 116 residents and primarily consist of 1,240-square-foot units with four single 10-foot-by-7-foot bedrooms and an 11-foot-by-7-foot living room. There are also a handful of two and three bedroom units. All of the apartment units are furnished and other features include a group study room, free laundry in each unit and easy access to an Einstein Bagels shop on the first floor.

Precast concrete housing structures provide superior resistance to wind damage, fire, earthquakes, decay, mold and mildew provides lower maintenance and insurance costs.

Termites also can’t eat concrete.

IMG_7268“This new dorm is practical and functional,” said Heather Wilson, president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. “As a private-sector project which the University leases, it was designed for flexibility of use, including potential conversion to classrooms or offices.”

Building projects like Rocker Square I to house students are part of the institution’s long-term strategic plan to help the School of Mines become recognized as a pre-eminent technological university, a place that can attract and retain top-notch faculty and students while also benefiting the rest of the community.

A growing college campus can help revitalize a city and create lively pedestrian corridors where there were once downtrodden storefronts and aging neighborhoods.

“Rocker Square I also started the redevelopment of an aging downtown neighborhood on the edge of our campus, which continues with more public and private sector investment. It is a great example of transformative architecture that inspires others to move a city forward,” added President Wilson.

Precast concrete’s enduring materials and flexibility with a virtually limitless set of colors, textures and shapes make it the best choice for collegiate housing projects like Rocker Square I.

Shafai added, “We are very proud to be part of such a great project in the State of South Dakota.”

In the 2016-2017 academic year, Rocker Square I will be reserved for upperclass students—juniors, seniors and graduate students. Rocker Square I was followed by the construction of two more Gage Brothers projects—Rocker Square II (2013) and Placer Hall, which will open its doors this fall.

Rocker Square I
Additional Project Details

IMG_7262Features of Rocker Square I include:

  • 4-bedroom units include 2 full bathrooms
  • 3-bedroom and 2-bedroom units include 1 full bathroom
  • Free laundry in each unit
  • Wireless Internet Access
  • Cable television
  • Furnished living rooms with couch, loveseat, tables, and television
  • Furnished bedrooms with full-sized bed, dresser, desk/chair
  • Kitchen with full-sized refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher plus bar seating

Innovative precast student housing: Jackrabbit Grove

Many colleges and universities across the country have a portfolio of aging residence halls that were constructed for the post-war generation. A place to sleep, a desk for studying, and a dining hall nearby was all that was expected when parents tearfully deposited their children at college to continue their preparation to adulthood. However, times have changed, and today’s college students have no interest in yesteryear’s modest dormitory-style living.

Institutions are asking questions about what their dormitories should be. For research-based universities like South Dakota State University, success in the dog-eat-dog fight for bright, driven students—and the research grants and tuition revenue that comes with them—depends on meeting or exceeding student expectations for on-campus housing.

Hyde Hall
Hyde Hall at Jackrabbit Grove

In 2012, SDSU sought to create a new housing experience that was appealing to potential students and also functioned as the setting for robust intellectual and character growth of the modern college student.

South Dakota’s only land-grant institution requires undergraduates to live on campus for their first two years after high school and in a significant shift in previous design processes, SDSU administrators looked to the student body for input on the design of the new buildings.

SDSU surveyed more than 1,500 students and their collective voice requested residential halls that were affordable, lively, state-of-the-art, and green. They proposed an environment that reflected the creativity of the institution and emboldened students to make lasting connections to people and ideas.

Students also wanted living quarters that were in close proximity to the services they used most; the student union, classrooms and the wellness center.

Ben Riefel Hall
Ben Riefel Hall at Jackrabbit Grove

The end result is Jackrabbit Grove, a four building, 800-bed residential community for SDSU underclassmen and Honors College students in Brookings, SD.  With furnished rooms, community gathering areas, kitchens, and laundry facilities, Jackrabbit Grove has quickly become one of the premiere housing options on the SDSU campus.

Jackrabbit Grove carefully integrated with existing housing and the University’s desire to create a modern housing experience. It was preceded by Jackrabbit Village, a 408-bed residential community that was completed in 2010. Gage Brothers Concrete was the precaster for both Jackrabbit Village and Jackrabbit Grove, while Koch Hazard was the architect of record for both projects.

Precast panel construction was utilized to accommodate a very aggressive construction schedule, while ensuring long-term durability and ease of maintenance. The use of precast concrete also reduced site disturbance, as fewer trucks and less time were required for construction which minimized traffic disturbance on the SDSU campus.

IMG_7081Thin-set brick was included in the panels to complement the surrounding campus architecture and obtain the aesthetic appeal desired by students.

Three separate precast designs teams were utilized concurrently to support two separate and concurrent erection crews which completed within 14 months—in time for students to move-in prior to the start of the 2013 fall semester.

The primary goal for Jackrabbit Grove was student comfort.“We’re after the student comfort factor because that translates into happiness with the living environment which translates into a connection to campus and of course ultimately produces student success connected with their academic efforts,” said Douglas Wermedal, SDSU Associate Vice President for Student Affairs.

Construction of Jackrabbit Grove

Jackrabbit Grove reduces previous SDSU community sizes from 100 residents per floor to 36. The number of students sharing a community bathroom is reduced from 50 students to 18.

This vast reduction assists in community building, encouraging residents’ affinity for their space and interaction with other students on their floor.

“Students told us to get the floors smaller,” said Wermedal. He added that a community of 35 students was determined to be a comfortable number for the Upper Midwest student to connect with initially on campus.

Lounge areas on each floor connect with the large kitchen and include a fireplace and flat screen television.

And according to Wermedal, you have to pay attention to the convenience and the efficiency of the bathroom space in a house that students built. Individual locking units for toiletries have eliminated the need for a portable shower caddy and given each student their own personal space.

For this LEED Silver-certified project, sustainability was considered every step of the way, including daylighting and lighting controls, low flow fixtures, increased ventilation and a very high percentage of regional materials.

SDSU students also stressed the importance of hydration and a healthy lifestyle to school administrators. Every floor in Jackrabbit Grove is equipped with an H20 bottle filling station with a digital counter that shows how many plastic bottles have been kept out of landfills.

The project’s success is ultimately measured in students’ reactions, and Jackrabbit Grove is alive with activity just days into each semester of operation. The newest addition to SDSU campus has set a high standard for residential life projects moving forward.

Honors Hall
Honors Hall at Jackrabbit Grove

“A residence hall is an important building that provides a home away from home and will be the center of most of the cherished memories in a student’s academic career,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “It was very energizing to be able to collaborate with the university and student stakeholders to complete such an important project on the SDSU campus.” Click here to view the Jackrabbit Grove photo gallery (c/o Cipher Imaging Architectural Photography).

New USF residence hall will provide community living and learning environment

As students return home for summer or scale back their course work, colleges and universities ramp up construction.

The University of Sioux Falls might lack most of its student population during the summer, but the campus is currently abuzz with activity thanks to the construction of a new residence hall—the first new dormitory in more than a decade.

A rendering of the new residence hall (c/o Koch Hazard)

The plans call for a three-story residence hall that can house up to 188 students— making it the largest dormitory on campus. Gage Brothers was awarded the precast concrete building contract in late June and will manufacture more than 70,000 square feet of precast concrete for the project.

Gage Brothers is the top producer of precast concrete materials for residential halls in the Midwest. Recent collegiate projects include Placer Hall (SDSM&T), Jackrabbit Grove (SDSU) and the award-winning 17th Avenue Residence Hall (University of Minnesota).

The project addresses both USF’s commitment and the city of Sioux Falls’ desire to bring more students into campus housing. The residence hall is the latest in the university’s series of investments and redevelopment projects that USF has planned for the coming years.

Other than the newly-conceived project, the Sullivan Faith and Living Center (2005) was the most recent dorm constructed on the USF campus.

Construction of the new residence hall—the $11.7 million price tag includes additional parking— began on July 7 with the demolition of Patterson Hall on the corner of 22nd and Summit. Patterson was an iconic building in its time, but was in need of modern amenities the 40-year-old building could not accommodate. Safety at this intersection had also become a concern with limited sightlines and increased traffic in recent years.

The renovated corner will feature open spaces and landscaping designed to provide better sightlines and an overall better image for the liberal arts university.

To create space for the facility and accommodate increased parking, several university-owned houses will be removed.

USF took a unique approach to the building’s design. In order to best suit the needs of modern university life, they conducted conversations with both current and prospective students along with their analysis of critical trends in student residence life design.

“We integrated current best practices in the field of student development with the needs and desires of a contemporary college student, gathering ideas not just from current students but also prospective students and their families,” said Corey Ross, Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students at USF.

Ross added that university officials sought to be flexible, functional and forward-thinking with the design because the needs of students and the institution can change throughout the years.

The residence hall will mirror USF’s other residence halls and buildings in many important ways. Students will be held to the same code of conduct in place in other similar campus housing spaces, and resident assistants will live on site.

The currently unnamed residential hall is being designed by Sioux Falls-based Koch Hazard Architects.

Honors Hall
Jackrabbit Grove

Gage Brothers has collaborated with Koch Hazard on more than 100 building projects since 1970. Recent jobs include the Jackrabbit Village and Jackrabbit Grove residential communities at SDSU and Vance Thompson Vision, a 2014 AIA South Dakota Design Honor Award winner.

The two firms are also working together on the new 10,000-sq. ft. Stockwell Engineers offices in Sioux Falls.

USF awarded the construction contract to Sioux Falls Construction, a firm that Gage Brothers has worked with for more than 50 years, giving the housing project very strong local ties.

“USF does its best to support local businesses, and we are blessed to have quality choices in this geographic area,” said Marsha Denniston, the school’s Vice President for Business & Finance.

The three-floor residence hall will feature: 94 rooms that contain two large (11’ X 20’) double rooms separated by a private bathroom. Other amenities include common areas and study spaces on each floor, multipurpose rooms and kitchen facilities, as well as a fitness room, laundry room and theater for the residents to share.

Added Ross, “Our interior is designed to be as stylish and as comfortable as a modern home, replete with bedrooms on the wings that encircle a ‘commons’ in the middle of every floor for students to gather, relax and share ideas.”

Thin-brick cast in Gage Brothers precast concrete adorns the 17th Avenue residence hall at the University of Minnesota

The predominant structural design consists of thin-brick cast in quality Gage Brothers precast panels meant to complement the exterior of other buildings located on the academic quad, while providing a strong presence to the northeast corner of campus as approached from 22nd Street.

The precast structural components to be produced at the Gage Brothers plant are: 44,179 sq. ft. of corefloor, 24,485 sq. ft. of architectural panels and 2,114 sq. ft. of walls for the elevators and stairs.

Siting and design of the new hall will complete the historic USF campus quad and frames the view into campus from 23rd Street.

Drawing 5
Original drawing of the Sioux Falls College library (1964)

Students will also have fewer excuses for not studying since the residence hall will be attached to the Mears Library—making USF one of the few campuses in America where students are living in the same building as the university library.

Talk about living in the library during finals week.

Gage Brothers has a unique connection to this student housing project. The first campus building awarded to Gage Brothers was the Sioux Falls College (as it was called at the time) library in 1964.

A precast concrete ramp was added to the building in 1998.

Drawing 3
Original drawing of the Jeschke Fine Arts Center (1968)

“It’s always fun to dig up old drawings and to re-visit projects like the USF library—a building that is not only part of their history, but part of our company history as well,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “This building contains some of the first architectural panels we ever made and they’ve definitely withstood the test of time.”

Other campus buildings that were constructed with Gage Brothers precast concrete products include: Jeschke Fine Arts Center (1968), Glidden Hall (2001), McDonald Center (2007) and the Salsbury Science Center (2008).

Gage Brothers also provided more than 16,000 square feet of tread & risers, architectural panels and trim for Bob Young Field at the USF Sports Complex.

Kelley added, “We’re excited to help make this corner of campus a showcase for the whole university and make it someplace special.”

The residence hall is projected to open in fall of 2017.