From Dime Store to Hip Office: The 428 Gets New Lease on Life
For more than 70 years, the Woolworth Building defined the northeast corner of 7th Place and Minnesota Street in downtown St. Paul. But for the last 30 years, it has sat derelict. When Woolworth’s lease expired in 2015, the longtime property owner embraced the opportunity to invest in a new and repurposed life for the structure as a commercial mixed-use office building. With the client’s vision to revive this site and the neighborhood, the core values of health, wellness and sustainability drove the transformation from dime store to hip new office building.
Beneath the deteriorating façade and interiors was the spirit of 1950’s mid-century modern design. Inspired by the building’s legacy, the team took their cues from some of the existing architectural elements, but added a contemporary twist to drive key design elements.
- The exterior brick on the south and west façades was removed and replaced with glass curtain wall, allowing natural light to enter deep into the tenant spaces in the building’s core and maximizing views to the outdoor.
- Two corner elements that frame the new exterior curtain walls, called “Bookends,” illustrate the flow of movement through the space before even entering the building. The Bookends also help make the transition between the new modern façade and the classical revival style of its neighbor, the Golden Rule Building.
- A dramatic, 6,000-square-foot glass Corner Cube on the fifth floor rooftop separates this office building from others on the market. Designed to house a collaborative coworking space called Wellworth, it provides an alternative to the traditional office spaces on the floors below. The cube is flanked by patio spaces to the north and south. Tenants of all the floors are able to use the north and south patios to take their work outside when weather permits, or lease additional seats from Wellworth to round out the tenant spaces below.
- Whenever possible, existing design concepts were reimagined or reused. Exterior brick was selected to match the existing colors and set the primary color palette for the exterior. The distinctive metal panel ‘brows’ that make the canopy and wrapped the windows on the third floor were reinterpreted to wrap new curtain wall windows and form the edge of the new street level canopy. Ornate hand railings at the communicating stair between the first and second floors provided the inspiration for a contemporary reinterpretation.
Other improvements included providing new egress stair towers, new elevators, tenant toilets, and new HVAC and MEP systems. Additionally, a fourth floor of new office space was added after it was determined that the foundation could support it.