The Pillsbury A-Mill in Minneapolis was first built in 1880 and stood as the world’s largest flour mill for 40 years. It was powered by two direct-drive water wheels that each generated 1,200 horsepower. In 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the mill on its list of Most Endangered Places.
When Dominium sought to re-create the A-Mill into 251 units of affordable artists’ lofts, it also wanted to bring the mill’s infamous hydropower back to life. In the bowels of the mill, Dominium installed large pipes and new turbine generators in the historic water-power canals. The A-Mill’s hydroelectric generator provides electricity for over 70% of the entire complex’s power needs (for both tenants and common spaces).
Dominium, along with architecture firm BKV Group, also preserved the history in its lofts, reusing materials where it could and preserving the building’s structure while also achieving LEED Gold certification. Throughout the build and design process, the structure showed increasing decay, and the exterior of the building needed its limestone-and-brick façade repaired. Dominium relied on Weis Builders for its extensive experience working with historic restorations.
A-Mill Artist Lofts was 100% leased by December 2015 and continues to retain a 200-person “interest” list for future resident artists.