New Apartments Reflect an Indigenous Tribe's History – And Its Future

A new residential complex in Minneapolis, Minnesota provides housing to members of the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa tribe. The project is one of the first housing developments sponsored by an Indigenous tribe anywhere in the United States. The design and cladding of the project honour the cultural heritage of the Red Lake Band.


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Mino-Bimaadiziwin Apartments – Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: alanblakely.com

With a name inspired by the Ojibwe words for “the good life,” the Mino-Bimaadiziwin Apartments in Minneapolis, Minn., serve as home and community for more than 100 families, many with deep roots in the region. 

This new residential complex reflects a community-wide commitment to resolve a housing shortage among Indigenous people in the Twin Cities, including members of the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa tribe. The building’s facade features metal wall panels in a dramatic palette of natural and wood grain tones that echo the terrain of Northwest Minnesota. 

The structure is also home to the Red Lake Nation Embassy, a child care center and a wellness clinic, all standing on the former site of a housing shelter that was once part of Minneapolis’s American Indian Cultural Corridor. In 2018, leaders of the Red Lake Band decided that a lasting solution to chronic housing insecurity was needed, voting to build one of the first housing developments sponsored by an Indigenous tribe anywhere in the U.S. 

Reflecting a Deep Sense of Place

“The Mino-Bimaadiziwin project sits within a larger cultural context,” says Jeremiah Johnson, senior associate with Cuningham Group Architecture Inc., the project’s designers. “Our clients stressed that the building must be of its place.” 

The team at Cuningham envisioned a structure “that would serve as a strong focal point for the Cultural Corridor, anchoring it where it crosses both Hiawatha Avenue and the METRO light rail line,” Johnson explains. 

The building comprises two wings in a V-shaped arrangement. For the exterior, plans combined masonry cladding for the first floor with PAC-CLAD metal wall panel systems encasing the balance of the building’s six-story height. 

Both the colour and texture of the metal cladding give bold definition to the building’s rectangular structure. Three bay sections of vertical flush panels in black alternate with matching sections of white ribbed panels, installed horizontally for additional contrast. The varied panel profiles and orientations create a play of light and shadow across the façade, adding depth and interest to the design. At either end, stairwells clad in vertical wood grain panels reflect a reverence for nature.

The varied panel profiles, orientations and finishes add depth and interest to the design. Photo: alanblakely.com
Honouring the Tribes of the Red Lake Nation

“These seven vertical elements are an abstract representation of the seven member tribes of the Red Lake Nation,” Johnson explains. “For the wood-look elements, we chose a finish called ‘Super Douglas’ because it most closely resembles wood milled from the white cedar trees that are native to Red Lake Nation lands.”

Cuningham’s designers looked at several types of material for the project, including fibre cement, but architectural metal ultimately won out. “This project is a long-term investment in the community, and our clients needed something that was durable, easy to maintain and very attractive,” Johnson notes. “With great finishes and a wide variety of panel types, metal became the top choice. An additional advantage was that a single contractor could install nearly all the cladding, using the same details throughout, resulting in fewer opportunities for errors and a smooth installation.”

The custom “Super Douglas” wood grain finish was chosen to resemble wood milled from the white cedar trees native to Red Lake Nation lands. Photo: alanblakely.com
Multiple Panel Profiles and Finishes Lend Bold Visual Effects

Petersen was the panel supplier for the project, which incorporated 21,000 sq. ft. (1,951 m2) of PAC-CLAD Flush panels in Matte Black and another 13,000 sq. ft. (1,208 m2) in the custom Wood Grain finish, along with 13,600 sq. ft. (1,263 m2) of 7.2 Rib Panels in Bone White. Progressive Building Systems of Otsego, Minn., worked closely with Petersen fabricators, helping make the decision to specify a coil-coated finish over powder coating. “This enabled us to order flat sheet materials ahead of time and fabricate our flashings as needed,” says David Lage, Progressive’s project manager and estimator. 

Architect Johnson also has high praise for Petersen, a frequent supplier of choice. “I have always found the people with Petersen to be very helpful on our projects,” he says. “With the wide range of products and finishes, Petersen is always my first choice in metal cladding products.”

Completed in December 2020, the new building has quickly become the community anchor that Red Lake Nation leaders hoped for. 

“The project serves the community well,” Johnson says. “There is talk of more development in the area, spurred by the success of this project.”

Durable, Lasting Colour

PAC-CLAD finishes are available in a wide spectrum of standard colours, including brilliant metallics, sophisticated wood grains and rich ores. All finishes are Fluropon® 70% PVDF coatings made with Kynar 500® resin, and are backed by an outstanding non-prorated warranty against chipping, chalking, peeling and fading. Most colours meet LEED requirements and are Cool Roof-rated.

About PAC-CLAD | Petersen

PAC-CLAD | Petersen, a Carlisle Company, manufactures architectural metal products for virtually every residential and commercial building need. PAC-CLAD brand metal cladding systems include hidden- and exposed-fastener metal wall panels, standing-seam roof panels, flush panels, soffit panels, perforated metal, fascia and coping systems, composite panels and column covers, along with coil and flat sheet materials. Petersen was founded in 1965 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and now operates fabrication plants in Illinois, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, Arizona and Washington State. Our manufacturing plants and large network of PAC-CLAD representatives serve architects and installers across the U.S. and Canada.

For more information, visit PAC-CLAD.com, call 800-PAC-CLAD or email [email protected]. You can also use our website to find a local representative or schedule a virtual meeting.

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