October 2019 – St. Louis Park, Minn. – Yeshiva of Minneapolis, a nationally known Jewish high school for boys, provides students an opportunity to obtain a Jewish centered education and a place that they can live, play, and worship in a safe community environment. Due to its superb educational reputation and popularity, Yeshiva of Minneapolis needed to greatly increase the size of the facility to allow for more students to attend the school while living on campus. With the help of the design team, which included KOMA, Nor-Son Construction, Emanuelson-Podas Engineers, and Loucks Inc., a major expansion of the facility is nearing completion. The new addition, which doubles the size of the school, includes a full size gymnasium with clerestory windows to bring in natural light, new classrooms, new restrooms and shower areas, lounge and activity spaces on each floor, new offices for the staff, and 26 additional dormitory rooms.

Adding onto the existing facility posed several major challenges to the design team. One major challenge involved tying the existing and new facility into one cohesive design. Other challenges involved a 20 foot drop in elevation of the site from one corner to the opposite corner; a high water table that ran through the site, floors between the old and new structures that did not line up, plus designing bearing walls that extended over 15 feet into a hill. There were also major storm water management issues in designing for the proper drainage of water off such a small and tight site. “The addition was only two feet above the existing water table and each side of the new addition was very close to the property lines, therefore, we had to think very strategically about how to design the new facility to function as best as possible,” says architect Kevin Dummer, “we wanted to provide the owners with a building that could meet their goals and objectives since there was no additional square footage left on the site for any future additions.”

Finding solutions for these many challenges required working closely with St. Louis Park city staff from zoning approvals to final construction inspections. “We were thankful for our relationship with the City,” says architect Brady Mueller, “we have worked with them for over 25 years and value their support and assistance in finding the right solution to the many construction issues that arise. In fact, our entire design team, including the owners, worked extremely well together and that is so important in a complex project such as this one.”

“Despite all of the complications, this was a great project to be part of” says Kevin Dummer, “we are so honored to have helped the owners in achieving their dream with this school.”