Conceived in the wake of the energy crisis of 1979, the Willow Lake Laboratory was completed on the site in 1983. The building was founded by former H.B. Fuller CEO and Minnesota governor Elmer Andersen, a strong advocate of environmental sustainability, and represents responsible building and energy conservation.
Consistent with the original master plan, a corporate headquarters was added to the west side of the structure in 1995. To date, the building has had no fundamental modifications to the structure.
The building was designed specifically to address society’s responsible use of natural resources and integration of the site, building, and systems. Fifty percent of the building’s envelope is earth sheltered and not exposed to the north wind. The primary heating and cooling system was based on geothermal heat exchange, and the environment systems and laboratory exhaust systems use a recovery process to reheat air. The project has been awarded numerous national conservation and innovation awards due to its energy-independent structure.
The site consists of several acres of wetland habitat and a 70-acre lake. Upon completion, 97% of the site was preserved as unmodified wetland and wildlife habitat. The façade is oriented to the south-southeast for solar gain, daylighting and views, allowing scientists to be exposed to natural light from workspaces throughout the building. The laboratory backs into a hillside, consisting of a cascading three-level atrium with the entry/reception on the top level, a dining commons in the middle, and a research library on the lower level; each opens up to roof terraces.
The AIA jurors were impressed by the trueness to sustainability, not only at the time of construction but also by today’s standards. “The building displays the test of time, with a cohesive plan. The detailing and care of the connections, along with the preciseness of the site, make the structure very interesting and appealing, creating a very pleasant workspace,” commented one juror. “The delicacy of the skylights, layers of the structure and reflection of the site unravel in a great way. The project complements the ideas of sustainability and responsible building of its time and holds up to green building standards established 20 years after,” another juror said.
“We at H.B. Fuller are proud to receive this recognition for our long-term commitment to responsible environmental stewardship,” said Michele Volpi, CEO. “Our headquarters site is just another representation of our commitment to innovation and sustainability, which we strive for in our research, products, and all aspects of how we operate.”
Established by AIA Minnesota in 1981, the 25-Year Award recognizes exemplary architectural projects that have withstood the test of time. Jurors for this year’s 25-Year Award were John Cuningham, FAIA, founder of Cuningham Group Architecture; Nathan Johnson, AIA, 2009 Young Architect recipient and founder of 4RM+ULA; and Blaine Brownell, AIA, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Design and founder of the design/research firm Transstudio.
About the CompanyFor more than 120 years, H.B. Fuller has been a leading global adhesives provider, focusing on perfecting adhesives, sealants, paints and other specialty chemical products to improve products and lives. Recognized for unmatched technical support and innovation, H.B. Fuller brings knowledge and strength to help its customers find precisely the right formulation for the right performance. With fiscal 2009 net revenue of $1.235 billion, H.B. Fuller serves customers in packaging, hygiene nonwovens, paper converting, general assembly, wood working, construction and consumer businesses.
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