Student Housing, Merit WinnerView All 9 Photos >
John Marshall High School in Minneapolis has graduated and is ready for college, thanks to a renovation by BKV Group.
The design firm reimagined the 1920s-era high school that was being used as office rental spaces, and transformed the property into 316 modern apartments and townhomes for almost 1,000 University of Minnesota students. The complex comprises three connected buildings ranging from four to seven stories with exteriors constructed of brick, wood, cement-fiber board, and three types of metal.
Inspired by the concept of a Greek agora, skyways link nonadjacent buildings and surround four open-air plazas—two ground-level plazas and two elevated—to create an active, social college scene and promote connectivity within the community. Indoor and outdoor common areas are linked by roll-up garage doors and large windows.
“The four courtyards are a phenomenal part of this community,” says Jack Boarman, managing design partner at BKV. “The sense of camaraderie they encourage is really what makes The Marshall vibrant and sets it apart. Student life and activities are visible in the courtyards as well as from the surrounding buildings, which provides this sense of a ‘city within the city.’”
While college students are attracted to this city-within-a-city environment created by The Marshall, Dinkytown residents were concerned about the addition of an out-of-place, overwhelming building in the small college town. The designers wanted to respect the culture and history of the neighborhood, which consists of small shops, bars, and single-family homes.
The three buildings vary in height so as not to overpower the existing surroundings, a difficult task when building a 563,838-square-foot, mixed-use space on an entire city block. The townhomes face the residential area of the neighborhood, while the plaza and retail entrances connect with the shopping square, creating a seamless transition between the neighborhood and commercial blocks.
The state’s largest off-campus housing complex also includes the country’s first TargetExpress, in the ground-floor, 20,000-square-foot retail space.
The complex features a wide variety of amenities, including a fitness room and yoga studio, bike storage, Zen gardens, and 50,000 square feet of green space with grilling areas, an outdoor TV lounge, and sand volleyball courts.
Remnants of the former Marshall High School are kept alive throughout the building with repurposed gym flooring and original classroom chalkboards hanging on the walls in study rooms.
The units come fully furnished.