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A Warm Welcome

Duluth Transit Authority rolls out $27 million facility as a red carpet to passengers and pedestrians.

Aaron Kelly, AIA, LEED AP, received an immersive welcome to Duluth, Minn.

“My third day on the job at LHB was an interview for the project,” Kelly, the award-winning specialist in civic, sustainable design, says. “I was all in and have been living and breathing it for three years.”

The project Kelly refers to is the $27 million, 150,000 square foot Duluth Multimodal Transportation Center. The sleek, modernist structure offers an amalgam of transit services – bus, car, taxi, trolley, bike, and pedestrian – in a prominent, high-profile downtown location for the city’s 90,000 residents.

Kelly and his design team at LHB, Inc., a 51-year-old full-service architectural engineering and design firm serving the upper Midwest, were tasked with meeting many project requirements.


“The DMTC project was procured as a design-build project, with (Minneapolis-based) Mortenson Construction serving as the prime contractor,” explains Kelly. “There were a lot of design gymnastics. We wanted to create as much visibility and connectivity between all the different transportation modes. It’s all about creating a positive passenger experience.”

To help achieve that, LHB architects designed the DMTC to be a gentle contrast with the downtown area’s prevailing historic look of brick and ornament. “We were faced with the challenge of how do you create pedestrian architecture on one side and freeway-responsive architecture on the other. There’s 75-mile-an-hour traffic whizzing by on the south side and people quietly getting off a bus on the north side,” says Kelly.

Clean Aesthetic

Kelly turned to a metal panel façade to achieve the clean, attractive look he sought within a guaranteed max-price budget.

“We looked at composite panels and cement fiberboard and a lot of different things,” Kelly recalls. “Ultimately, we landed on a single-thickness, heavy-gauge metal panel rainscreen system. It achieves what we were aiming for.”

Kelly is no stranger to metal panel cladding. At another design firm, he specified metal panels for the $60 million El Monte (Calf.) Station, the largest bus-only transit station west of Chicago.

Only the Best

“We used CENTRIA [metal panels] on the DMTC project. I’ve specified CENTRIA on other projects. Their material is high-quality and the finishes weather well. They don’t receive many callbacks. CENTRIA metal panels are as good as it gets,” reports Kelly.

For the Duluth project, Kelly specified 21,698 square feet of CENTRIA’s IW Series single-skin metal panels in a smooth Versacor® Elite coating of midnight bronze and another 23,252 square feet of the same panel in a crushed ice color. CENTRIA dealer The Jamar Company, a local contractor, expertly handled the installation.

Minimal Risk

Designing high-profile public buildings subjects architects to intense critical scrutiny. Kelly trusts CENTRIA to deliver the goods in crucial projects.

“CENTRIA is good with helping on detailing and making recommendations on finishes,” Kelly says. He also likes the fact that CENTRIA metal panels are readily available even in northern Minnesota. What’s more, the panels lend themselves to quick and easy installation – especially important considering the DTMC skywalk construction took place over an active interstate.

The center opened in February 2016 to wide acclaim. According to Kelly, “It turned out very nice.” And serves as a well-deserved welcome to the beautiful city.

DTA Multimodal Transportation Facility
Duluth, MN
Building Owner: Duluth Transit Authority
Architect: LHB, Inc.
General Contractor: Mortenson Construction
Dealer/Installer: The Jamar Company

CENTRIA Products:
IW Series IW-10A Horiz.; Crushed Ice; 23,252 sq. ft.
IW Series IW-10A Horiz.; Midnight Bronze; 21,698 sq. ft.

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