Winona County History Center, Laird Norton Addition
2008-2010, built
Winona, Minnesota, USA

With Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Minneapolis
Joan Soranno, FAIA, design Principal, and John Cook, FAIA, project Architect
Project Designer: Physical and digital modeling, Brick colonnade/window detailing, Interior detailing, Wood screen wall design; Request for Proposal, Interview Materials, Predesign, Schematic Design and Design Development documentation, Design oversight through construction.

Taking inspiration from the play of surfaces in the 1915 National Guard Armory that houses the Winona County History Center, this new gallery and entry extension refocuses the armory’s monumental entry portal into a new spatial experience that better engages the with the street. The historic street wall is extended across the new facade and horizontally divided above the ground floor. In the lower zone, a gallery of corbelled brick columns dissolves the language of the existing building’s sterotomy into a forced perspective along the street, giving passers-by intriguing glimpses into the museum’s public circulation corridor. Above, an offset copper mass houses a flexible gallery space and frames a roof terrace that provides views of Winona’s intact historic downtown and the surrounding bluffs.

On the interior, the new addition re-presents the existing brick wall of the armory as an artifact, with circulation interacting up and through the wall at strategic points. Interior finishes continue a narrative with the past: intensive use of reclaimed wood nods to Winona’s history as a major lumber shipping port, and an intricate screen wall concealing the main stair abstracts an iconic archival photograph owned by the museum while recalling the encrusted ornament of other buildings in Winona’s largely intact mid-19th century downtown district.

Honor Award for Architecture, AIA Minnesota, 2010
Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Honor Award, 2011

Photos © Paul Crosby