The company behind some of Minnesota's most iconic buildings will design the new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. HKS Architects, based in Dallas, was chosen Friday by the team and the state-chartered stadium authority, from among five firms vying for the job. The authority voted to award a $34 million design contract to the firm.
HKS designed the landmark Capella tower and Ameriprise Financial office buildings in downtown Minneapolis, as well as facilities for the NFL, pro baseball and hockey teams. The company most recently designed two pro football stadiums -- for the Dallas Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts.
The kind of stadium HKS is proposing for the Vikings may look like nothing Minnesotans have seen before.
Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, looked over the five firms' proposals. He said HKS stood out.
"The ideas that they brought to the interview were interesting," Fisher said. "For example, do you need to have a retractable roof, or are there other ways that you can help people feel connected to the outdoors without necessarily having the expense of a big retractable roof?"
That question is at the center of the stadium planning -- fans and the Vikings want a roof on the stadium, but the cost may be too high.
HKS pitched two alternatives to the Vikings and the stadium authority, according to Fisher.
"They did one scheme that showed how the entire stadium could be covered with a very lightweight cable-like structure, with a transparent material. So you would basically feel as if you were outdoors, but it would be covered," he said.
The other alternative, Fisher called "out of the box,"
"Which was basically covering the stadium with a series of ribbon-like roofs that were offset, so that if you sat in the stadium you could look out through windows, in multiple directions, and yet there was still a continuous roof over the entire stadium," he said.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the HKS plans stood out for their creative roof solutions.
"But whether they are practical, whether they are affordable, and whether it's something that the team and the stadium authority will agree to pursue is another matter," he said.
Bagley said the team still hasn't given up on the idea of having some kind of retractable feature somwhere in the stadium.
"We expect to see design proposals, 30 or 40 different iterations, before we get to the one that is unveiled in January or February," he said. Officials with the state-chartered stadium authority also emphasized that the initial ideas weren't necessarily the winning aspect of the HKS bid.
"We did not choose the firm thinking we had found our design," said Michele Kelm-Helgen, who chairs the stadium authority. "We know the stadium will probably look totally different when we're finished with the design. Identifying the firm really sets the stage to zero now, and we are going to go out across the state, and listen to people and hear what they have to say about what should be included in that design."
Kelm-Heglen said price was another factor. She said that a firm with local ties, AECOM, came in with the low bid, at about $30 million for the design work . The high bid, at more than $50 million, was from Kansas City-based Populous, which also designed Target Field and TCF Bank stadium.
Kelm-Helgen said HKS initially asked for $40 million, but that negotiations brought that down to $34 million.
Design principal Bryan Trubey said HKS has high hopes for the building his company is planning.
"Cowboys and Lucas Oil were really the first two buildings designed specifically for the Super Bowl, and then multi-purpose events after that, and then the NFL after that," said Trubey. "We see the same potential here."
The architect and the authority say they plan to conduct a statewide listening tour to find out what Minnesotans want the new stadium to look like. They hope to break ground on the project next year and kickoff the first game in 2016.