Cowles Center For Dance & The Performing Arts

The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts consists of two historic structures - the Hennepin Center for the Arts and the Goodale Theatre (formerly the Shubert) - annexed by a new two-story addition.

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Client: Miller Dunwiddie
Services: Structural, Civil
Construction Materials: Cast-in-Place Concrete, Light Gauge, Composite Metal Deck, Structural Steel
Civil Services: Grading and Drainage Design, Land Development, Stormwater, Utility Design, Leed & MN B3 Design, Construction
Awards and Recognition: Honor Award - American Consulting Engineers Council of Minnesota
BKBM Engineers was engaged in this project from the beginning with the move of the Shubert Theater from its original location to its new home on Hennepin Avenue. The first phase was the investigation of the structural integrity of this seven-story, 80 ft x 80 ft, concrete and masonry historic building. It was deemed structural sound to move except for the Stage House, which was demolished before moving the building. The next phase of this project involved the design of the foundation for the structure’s new location and the review and coordination of moving the 2,500 ton building.  The undertaking is now recorded as the Guinness Book of World Records largest building moved on rubber-wheeled dollies.
When the Shubert Theater was moved, its future as a dance venue had not been determined. Sight lines from a hundred years ago for a vaudeville hall are much different than what is expected today for a contemporary performance dance space. Thus, molding the original space to conform to today's demands was a complex and challenging process.
To meet today's structural requirements, the interior balconies were demolished and removed, and rebuilt along with new floors and stage. A structural steel frame was constructed inside the building, from the foundations to the roof, to brace the walls once the balconies were removed. This helped carry the balconies and support the walls during and after construction. Roof reinforcements support additional rigging and concrete loads that were added for acoustical purposes, and weight caused by snow drifting. The new columns used were reproduced using molds of the originals.
The new addition provides the entrance/lobby and other public spaces, and a dance studio on the upper floor features a replica of the main stage, fully rigged. Stormwater and sewer systems were redesigned to allow rooftop ponding and control runoff. BKBM used a proprietary stormwater filter to meet the City's stormwater management requirements.
This project is unique in that it joined two historic buildings with a contemporary addition. A lot changes in a century, and bringing the stately old theatre into the present required constant quick-thinking and creative application of the most modern methods, and a team-approach with the design team and contractor. All told, this project is a case in point of the active role engineering plays in preserving human history.