Minnesota Children’s Museum

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Architect: MSR Design (Phase 2)
  • Client: Minnesota Children's Museum

Project Highlights

  • Phase 1 (1985) – 4-story, 65,000 SF concrete and steel facility
  • Phase 2 (2017) – 21,700 expansion and 32,500 renovation


Phase 1 of the Minnesota Children’s Museum is a 65,000 square foot, four-story structure with a partial basement used for fabrication shops, storage, and mechanical systems located in the southeast corner of the structure and a mezzanine located between the second and third floors. The primary structural system is composite concrete/metal deck slabs supported by composite steel beams and steel columns that bear on drilled concrete piers. The steel structure is laterally braced by a combination of braced and rigid frames. One of the most challenging aspects of this project was dealing with many subterranean conditions in the sandstone layer, including unknown tunnels. The foundation design had to be modified to accommodate existing conditions discovered during construction. Architectural Alliance (now Alliiance) and James/Snow Architects (now separate firms, Vincent James Architects and Snow Kreilich Architects) were architects on Phase 1.

Phase 2 adds 35% more visitor space to the existing museum with new galleries, a café and dining area, a skyway entrance, and an expanded reception area to accommodate groups. A major play feature of the renovated museum is a four-story climbing tower. The $15 million, multi-level expansion and renovation includes 21,700 square feet of new space, infilling, and reconfiguration of 32,500 square feet of existing space. Special project phasing and construction sequencing was required to keep the facility operational throughout most of the construction.