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Bemidji events center updated designs presented

BEMIDJI -- Although still in progress, the design of the Bemidji Regional Events Center is getting close to completion, said Bill Merrill, vice president of sports and assembly with Leo A Daly.

BEMIDJI -- Although still in progress, the design of the Bemidji Regional Events Center is getting close to completion, said Bill Merrill, vice president of sports and assembly with Leo A Daly.

Merrill and other architects presented updated renderings of the events center's exterior design and floor plans Monday night to the Bemidji City Council at a work session.

"The purpose of this session is to show you the progress we made since the last time we met," Merrill told the council.

He said the biggest change in the events center exterior is the reduction of the height of the building's perimeter wall.

Scaling down the events center from a three-level building to a two-level building gave the architects more flexibility with the elevation of the perimeter of the building while the high roof over the main event floor remains the same, he said.


He said the events center design has two primary entrances -- one for the arena, which would be home ice for Bemidji State University's hockey, and one for the convention center.

He presented current floor plans for the first level, which includes event floor, concourse and team spaces, and the second level, which includes clubs and suites. He also showed roof and catwalk plans.

"This indicates the progress that we've made in developing the overall scheme," he said.

He added, "We are on schedule. We are on track with the budget."

Although the events center is now a two-level building, Steve Singer, associate senior architect with Leo A Daly, said the current design plans for the exterior of the events center still includes stone, brick and metal, which were incorporated into earlier designs.

"The idea is still the same," Singer said.

Landscaping will also be part of the outside view of the events center. Tom Whitlock, landscape architect with Damon Farber Associates, said design plans include bringing native landscape into the area up and around the building.

Whitlock said plans also include creating a green buffer near the office areas of the building, pedestrian walkways leading to the plaza areas and entrances, and a glass wall running almost the entire length of the concourse on the south side of the building. From the wall, he said, people could look outside through an area of trees to the wetlands and ponds to the south.


"This is really impressive looking," said councilor Onen Markeson, adding that the landscaping gives the events center an Up North look.

Mayor Richard Lehmann expressed concern over the appearance of a lighted tower near the entrance.

Merrill said the tower is a strong element that brings the eventgoers' focus to the entry.

"It just says, 'That's where I'm supposed to go,'" he said.

Councilor Roger Hellquist expressed concerned about water leakage through the roofs and asked the architects if the snow that will fall on the roofs is an issue.

Merrill said, "It's built into part of the structural design."

Hellquist also asked if there is a way to capture rainwater from the roofs for irrigation at the events center site.

"That's something to consider," Merrill said.


Whitlock said adding a tank to collect roof water would typically cost $20,000 to $30,000.

Councilor Nancy Erickson asked how storm water runoff will be managed at the site.

"This is a massive amount of impervious surface," she said, noting the parking area.

The storm water, architects said, will flow to ponds nearby.

Bill Maki, vice president for finance and administration at Bemidji State University, said he and BSU head men's hockey coach Tom Serratore visited a facility with a layout similar to the events center in Laredo, Texas, and now feel more comfortable about the reduced two-level design.

The university has signed a memorandum of understanding with the city that BSU hockey would be the events center's anchor tenant.

The events center will be about 185,000 square feet, and about 1,100 parking spaces are planned between Central and Grant avenues. Together, the building and parking areas will cover 24.2 acres.

When looking at the current exterior design of the events center, Lehmann said he can't help but be excited.


"I like it," he said. "I like it real well. ... Keep going on it."

Merrill said the next steps for the events center design team include continued refinement of the design and more development of the technical systems of the building.

"We really needed this feedback in order to move forward," he said.


The Bemidji Pioneer and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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