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St. Paul, MN
Advocating for Justice
Pursuing LEED Platinum Certification
Recognition: Minnesota Climate Adaptation Award
In the heart of St. Paul, The Guardian Building stands as a testament to history's resilience, embodying the values of PRAGMATIC, ENERGY, SOCIAL, WATER, and REUSE. This architectural gem, originally the Merchant’s National Bank designed by Edward P. Bassford in 1892, has been meticulously restored and repurposed to serve as a beacon of renewal.
The restoration journey of The Guardian Building began with an ode to pragmatism. AWH Architects, in collaboration with BRC, Stoneworks, and Architrave, revived the original parapet, uncovering hidden histories in every stone. A forgotten fire escape became an opportunity for architectural creativity, adding a unique touch to this historical revival.
Transitioning from exterior to interior, the top two levels and roof were transformed into a light-filled sanctuary for a world-renowned law firm and mission-oriented non-profits. AWH's design incorporated a visionary vertical shaft, exposing historic layers and symbolizing a beacon for justice and light. The commitment to ENERGY efficiency took a remarkable turn with the introduction of a biosolar roof—the first of its kind in North America.
The Guardian Building echoes SOCIAL responsibility, providing a home for organizations committed to protecting children and the environment. The rehabilitated space serves as a meeting place for those advocating for justice, fostering collaboration and inspiration.
Atop The Guardian Building, a biosolar roof unfolds, addressing climate change through an innovative fusion of green technology. Beyond solar panels generating clean energy, the biosolar roof incorporates plantings to manage stormwater, reduce roof temperatures, and create a haven for pollinators.
The soul of The Guardian Building lies in its commitment to REUSE—preserving the historic essence while crafting a sustainable future. Original maple flooring, concealed under layers of time, now stands as a testament to craftsmanship and longevity.
Awards and Recognition:
The Guardian Building isn't just a restoration; it's a living example of sustainable architecture. LEED Gold Certified, and has been honored with the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Award, a testament to its innovative approach to climate resilience.