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American Swedish Institute Celebrates Old Traditions in New Surroundings

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) has strong roots in downtown Minneapolis dating back to 1908 when a Swedish immigrant family completed the construction of their mansion. Twenty-one years after the castle-like home was completed, the family gifted it to the community, founding the organization that would become ASI. Since then, ASI has become a vibrant arts and cultural center and museum. But years of wear and tear had left its marks, and in 2011 the Turnblad mansion – named for the family who built it – underwent major renovation and construction.

Adolfson & Peterson (A&P), a Minneapolis-based construction company, was hired to manage the extensive project. From the beginning, their focus was to preserve historical elements while building a contemporary cultural center next to the mansion, all with a solid commitment to sustainable building standards.\

The new building – the Nelson Cultural Center – is a two-story, 34,000-square-foot event center and gallery. Along with the renovation of the 10,000-square-foot mansion, ASI is able to continue to serve as a gathering place for people to share the universal themes of tradition, migration and art.

PEX-a Plumbing Offers a Green, Healthy Alternative

Uponor provided 8,000 feet of ½" to 3" Uponor AquaPEX® tubing for the project. Quiet, durable and cost-effective, the combination of flexible Uponor AquaPEX tubing and ProPEX® expansion fittings provides a superior plumbing system for the high-performance water distribution system. The tubing was installed overhead using Uponor’s PEX-a Pipe Support, which allows for longer distances between hangers. This provides significant cost savings due to fewer hangers, less material and less labor.

No More Slippery Sidewalks

With Minnesota’s cold and snowy winters, the sidewalks along the ASI campus were outfitted with Uponor’s snow melt system. The system circulates a warm water/glycol mixture through Uponor’s oxygen-barrier Wirsbo hePEX™ tubing. The ⅝" tubing was embedded into the ground to circulate the warm water in the system. It’s important to choose oxygen-barrier tubing for radiant systems to eliminate corrosion on the ferrous components, like the boiler and pumps. Geothermal heat, from wells 250 feet below the earth’s surface, keeps the water warm – and snow and ice at bay – at around 120°F (48.9°C). An automatic system uses a sensor placed in the ground to detect when snowfall begins. The sensor sends a signal to the heat source to activate the warm liquid to flow through the radiant tubing. Once the area is dry, it sends a signal to stop the water flow and shut the system down, making it highly energy-efficient since the system runs only when needed. Traditional snow-removal methods can be environmentally unsafe with special chemicals that can be tracked into the building by guests or absorbed into the ground during spring thaw. Uponor’s snow melt system also eliminates annual maintenance costs while providing additional safety to ASI guests.

A&P’s firm commitment to sustainability is apparent throughout the project, including a green roof covered by sedum plants, a complex heating and cooling system, 96 geothermal wells stretching 250 feet below the surface and a water-reclamation system.

The renovation was completed in June 2012, and since then, guests are enjoying exhibitions, classes and Nordic culture on a modern campus with deep roots in history.

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Project Highlights:

• 34,000-square-foot cultural center
• Remodel of 10,000-square-foot 1908 mansion
• Uponor Plumbing and Snow Melt Systems
• 96 geothermal wells
• Water-reclamation system
• Green roof
• LEED° Gold

Project Data:

• Plumbing system: 8,000 feet of Uponor AquaPEX® ½" to 3"
• Connections: ProPEX Engineered Polymer (EP) tees and brass transition fittings
• Snow melt system: 5/8" Wirsbo hePEX™

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