Prefabricated Components Create Office Space in a Historic Building

Prefab walls in a historic building

The Kilbourne Group, a Fargo, N.D.-based real-estate development company, unveiled its new office space in September 2013. Located in the historic Loretta Building in the heart of downtown Fargo, the building is one of the city’s oldest; it was constructed in the early 1900s. The Kilbourne Group purchased it in 2011 with hopes of giving it new life as a retail and office space while retaining the historic feel that makes it so special.

The Kilbourne Group was founded by software developer Doug Burgum, a North Dakota native who is passionate about revitalizing downtown Fargo by buying old buildings, renovating them from the inside and encouraging local businesses to move in.

The Kilbourne Group was founded by software developer Doug Burgum, a North Dakota native who is passionate about revitalizing downtown Fargo by buying old buildings, renovating them from the inside and encouraging local businesses to move in.

The Kilbourne Group was founded by software developer Doug Burgum, a North Dakota native who is passionate about revitalizing downtown Fargo by buying old buildings, renovating them from the inside and encouraging local businesses to move in. Renovating instead of building new is a more sustainable approach and Kilbourne Group believes it will spur economic growth and create a strong, vibrant downtown community.

“This can be a challenge,” says Mike Allmendinger, Kilbourne Group’s general manager. “There isn’t a strong market for office buildings in the city center, so we need to help create change by making inviting workspaces for new start-ups.” Fargo is not lacking space, so the Kilbourne Group is fighting the tendency toward urban sprawl.

When choosing a company to build out the interior of the Loretta building, Kilbourne Group immediately thought of DIRTT Environmental Solutions, a provider of tailored prefab architectural solutions. Founded in 2004, the company believes sustainability is not only the right choice for the environment, but the right choice for its clients’ bottom line. Kilbourne Group heard of DIRTT through Distribution Partner Smartt Interior Construction, also based in Fargo, which has done several other DIRTT projects in the area.

The Kilbourne Group is unusual in that it begins to build spaces before signing up tenants, so future tenants can see the potential of the building before they commit to making it their office space. This means Kilbourne Group needs the design to be flexible.

The Kilbourne Group is unusual in that it begins to build spaces before signing up tenants, so future tenants can see the potential of the building before they commit to making it their office space. This means Kilbourne Group needs the design to be flexible.

The Kilbourne Group is unusual in that it begins to build spaces before signing up tenants, so future tenants can see the potential of the building before they commit to making it their office space. This means Kilbourne Group needs the design to be flexible.

DIRTT was tested from the very start when two of the three original tenants opted not to move into the space at that time, even as the DIRTT components were already on the truck heading toward Fargo. DIRTT assured the clients that the same walls could be repurposed to create a new larger space for the third tenant. Smartt Interior Construction Owner Paula Klein received the last-minute change of space requirements, but she knew the space could easily be transformed with more offices and a bigger conference room for the very pleased third tenant.

This flexibility is achieved because DIRTT elements respond like LEGOs. They all click together the same way every time, yet the outcome is radically different, reflecting the designer’s unique intent. This also means the elements are adaptive; they can be taken apart and repurposed as required. In addition, ICE, DIRTT’s proprietary design and specification software not only allows DIRTT to rapidly manufacture custom solutions, it also provides accurate and interactive 3-D flythroughs so clients can experience their space during the design phase.

Kilbourne’s design goals were to create a building that expresses the great character of the historic building while making it desirable to 21st century businesses. With modern design, technology and construction techniques, DIRTT’s flexibility allowed Kilbourne Group to design spaces that expressed the great character of the building, including the original elevator shaft.

The new Loretta building uses DIRTT glass walls to maintain an open feel throughout the space.

The new Loretta building uses DIRTT glass walls to maintain an open feel throughout the space.

The new Loretta building uses DIRTT glass walls to maintain an open feel throughout the space. Sliding barn doors and glass partition walls create breakout rooms encouraging collaboration while leaving the space bright and airy. “DIRTT Walls really allowed us to capture the historical aspects of the interior, like brick walls and wood beams and floors, blending it with the modernity of the glass,” Allmendinger says. “Everyone who visits the space loves how easily the old and new come together.”

In addition to the blending of old with new, the integration of technology is used extensively throughout the space. DIRTT’s modular walls allow technology to be embedded with easy access for facilities managers to repair or replace TVs, monitors or other technology in the future. It is complemented by Back Painted Glass that allows employees to write directly on the walls.

The Loretta building confirms when choosing prefabricated components, clients don’t need to give up aesthetics and can build to their exact design style and specifications. The building’s new tenants couldn’t be more pleased with their offices.

The Loretta building confirms when choosing prefabricated components, clients don’t need to give up aesthetics and can build to their exact design style and specifications.

The Loretta building confirms when choosing prefabricated components, clients don’t need to give up aesthetics and can build to their exact design style and specifications.

When the Kilbourne Group bought the Loretta Building, office space was being used by five employees. Today, thanks to the renovations, the building houses 17 different business and more than 100 people. “This building will be around for another 100 years, so we know that the uses and the tenants will change,” Allmendinger adds. “These walls are compatible with that idea; they respect the past, but create a new sort of working space.”

PHOTOS: Dan Francis Photography

Be the first to comment on "Prefabricated Components Create Office Space in a Historic Building"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


%d bloggers like this: