Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

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RockHarbor
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Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby RockHarbor » Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:42 am

Many people love Minneapolis's Wells Fargo (originally Norwest) Tower. I love it, too. The building has won awards. I can see why. It is designed by my favorite architect, Cesar Pelli, who I usually think knows perfectly what to do. But, upon research of this building, I learn on EMPORIS that the first design he submitted to Minneapolis was not accepted, so he went back to the drawing board. His second design is what they took! Isn't that interesting?

The EMPORIS article: http://www.emporis.com/buildings/122729 ... lis-mn-usa
A beautiful picture of the Wells Fargo Tower and its lit-up crown: http://www.haveypro.com/website/wp-cont ... apolis.jpg

The EMPORIS article mentioned that the first submission to Minneapolis looked very similar to his Key Tower in Cleveland -- one of my absolute favorite skyscrapers in the United States. I just couldn't believe it. I can't imagine Cleveland's Key Tower being right for Minneapolis -- at all. (It made me realize that Pelli is not perfect & flawless in his designs, I guess... Course, he is human, and he was much younger then.) The Key Tower in Cleveland: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... allest.jpg

In research, I found one picture on the net of Pelli's first proposal to Minneapolis! Here's the pic: http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/2 ... er-111.JPG It does look kind of like the Key Tower in Cleveland, but it is a bit different. It looks a more "appropriate fit" to Minneapolis than Cleveland's skyscraper -- but still, I don't like it at all, and I don't like it for Minneapolis especially, and I'm soooo glad the city didn't accept it. It looks like to me, Pelli may have drawn his inspiration from the pyramidal, needled top of the city's famous, historic, loved Foshay Tower (also seen in the picture). However, when he went back to the drawing board, it appears to me Pelli drew his inspiration from the squarish top of Minneapolis's other art deco skyscraper, the Dain Tower. Here's a pic of the Dain Tower: http://media.bizj.us/view/img/1385561/randtower*750.jpg

Articles (even local ones) often compare the skyscraper to the Rockefeller Building in NYC, which I can see why, but not the Dain Tower. But, I don't feel Pelli would draw inspiration from a building in NYC for Minneapolis. I could be wrong, though.

Anyways, thought that was interesting. So glad Minneapolis said "NO" to him on that first design. And, I'm glad Cleveland got that Key Tower. It looks so "Cleveland" to me. According to EMPORIS, Hartford may have got it.

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GetUrban
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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby GetUrban » Wed Apr 13, 2016 1:09 pm

The Wells Fargo (Norwest) Tower is one of my favorites too. Somehow I had forgotten Cesar Pelli designed it. I always go out of my way to see it when visiting Minneapolis. The Key Tower is not too shabby either. Minneapolis is fortunate to have had more star architects designing there than Omaha has.

They might have thought his first design mimicked to Foshay Tower too much, but I'm glad they chose what they have now.
He said "They are some big, ugly red brick buildings"
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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby RockHarbor » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:36 pm

GetUrban wrote:The Wells Fargo (Norwest) Tower is one of my favorites too. Somehow I had forgotten Cesar Pelli designed it. I always go out of my way to see it when visiting Minneapolis. The Key Tower is not too shabby either. Minneapolis is fortunate to have had more star architects designing there than Omaha has.

They might have thought his first design mimicked to Foshay Tower too much, but I'm glad they chose what they have now.


Couldn't agree more. I do feel like Pelli was drawing inspiration from the Foshay on that first design (like you think, too), and the more squarish Dain Tower on his second. I think he has that "architectural contextualism" attribute we discussed.

Yes, I really like how Minneapolis' three major skyscrapers are the works of famous architects. I always think of that when I see the city -- kind of like it is a showcase of modern architecture by well-known architects. I would like some buildings in Omaha designed by I.M. Pei, and Cesar Pelli, and Phillip Johnson and Halmut Jahn, too, but, however, I'm also proud many of our buildings are from our local Leo A. Daly -- one of the top 10 firms in the USA. He's done a great job here.
Last edited by RockHarbor on Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby RockHarbor » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:46 pm

By the way, GetURBAN, on the same token, I feel the design of the Principle Insurance Building (tallest in Des Moines) also drew inspiration from a historic structure nearby. I always looked at the star-capped Principle Insurance Building with admiration, feeling like it represented Des Moines well -- but not knowing really why. I just knew I felt the design wouldn't work the same in Omaha, as well as it does in Des Moines. Well, duh, Rock Harbor: Look closer at Des Moines. The architect must have drawn inspiration from the historic, geometrically-shaped, capped tower on the Equitable Building -- even though I haven't confirmed that anywhere. So, the shape & profile of the Principle Insurance Building matches Des Moines well.

Des Moines skyline: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _night.jpg
Equitable building: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_t ... 8-04-27.JP

Growing up, I paid no attention to historic buildings that much -- and I didn't really understand people, like picketers and preservationists, trying to save Jobber's Canyon. About 10 years ago, I started loving and appreciating historic buildings so much more, for some reason, and now I like them as well as modern buildings. With my new interest, I started "connecting dots" like this on skylines, between old & new -- rather than just focusing on the modern skyscrapers & buildings.

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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby OmahaJaysCU » Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:05 pm

I've always wished I could find the OWH article that outlined some of the alternative concepts for FNB tower. I've found the story, but no pictures are included.

If I recall correctly, UP had a couple concepts as well.

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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby RockHarbor » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:54 pm

OmahaJaysCU wrote:I've always wished I could find the OWH article that outlined some of the alternative concepts for FNB tower. I've found the story, but no pictures are included.

If I recall correctly, UP had a couple concepts as well.


Really? I would have loved to see those other concepts, too. I was out living in Southern California in 1999 when that skyscraper was announced & revealed in the paper (in fact, a local friend sent me the front page of the OWH to see it), so I didn't hear any other news on it. I wasn't around when the UP Headquarters was built either, but was aware of it, too.

I'm confident they picked the right & best plan for both. I can't imagine something actually better for the Tower at FNC, which I think is perfect for the city.

I really like the UP Building, too. Of course, I wish they could have taken all that office space and created a higher green-glassed tower instead. But, whatever. I like high-tech "glass cubes", too. The only thing I don't like, is that little cosmetic "cage" at the very top, hiding some roofing equipment. I understand why the designer made that choice, as it was a logical one (it actually matches another cage that sits lower nearby). If that roofing equipment had to be located right there, then I don't know what else the architect could have done there -- to be fair. But still, it just adds this slight "clunky" element to the building (imo) that bothers me a little.

***To be sensitive, I think hiding that roofing equipment can be a tricky job for an architect. The Woodmen Tower has that propped-up "box" at the top to do the job, the Central Park Plaza also has indented boxes at the top, the Tower at FNC has that ribbed top to help hide the equipment, the telephone building has that extra-thick top, the 1200 Landmark Center has the set of triangles.***

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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby Garrett » Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:04 am

OmahaJaysCU wrote:I've always wished I could find the OWH article that outlined some of the alternative concepts for FNB tower. I've found the story, but no pictures are included.

If I recall correctly, UP had a couple concepts as well.


What does the story say?
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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby OmahaJaysCU » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:25 pm

Garrett wrote:
OmahaJaysCU wrote:I've always wished I could find the OWH article that outlined some of the alternative concepts for FNB tower. I've found the story, but no pictures are included.

If I recall correctly, UP had a couple concepts as well.


What does the story say?

I'll have to do some digging, but it was basically about how Leo A Daly came up with the design and how many versions they went through. I'll see what I can find...

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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby RockHarbor » Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:10 am

I'm so looking forward to hearing some of the alternate concepts...!

My "thing" w/ the UP BUILDING: Here is a perfect photo that shows that little, airy cage at the very top. Thinking about it more, I wish they would just get rid of it, or proportionally expand it on the roof horizontally, with the same height. I just don't like it the way it is. If that weren't there, or expanded, I would 100% love that building. It's not THAT bad, though.
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Re: Minneapolis's beloved Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Tower was the 2nd Design

Postby RockHarbor » Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:23 am

Here's what I mean. (Me and my silly, whipped-up Photoshop examples... I visualize things fairly easily, but I've learned others don't necessarily.) The top cage: Either expanded proportionally on the top, or gone altogether. (Sometimes, something singular & special sticking up and sitting off-center works, but I don't think quite here it 100% does. But, it's not terrible either...)
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