IDS Tower and Crystal Court, 80 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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IDS Tower and Crystal Court

Address: 80 Eighth Street S
Neighborhood/s: Downtown, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1973
Primary Style: International
Historic Function: Office
Historic Function: Shopping center/mall/strip mall
Other Historic Function: Shopping center/mall/strip mall
Current Function: Office
Current Function: Shopping center/mall/strip mall
Other Current Function: Shopping center/mall/strip mall
Architect or source of design: Phillip Johnson & John Burgee with Edward Baker
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Glass
First Owner: Investor's Diversified Services
Notes: renovated (Crystal Court), HGA, 1998

Downtown Minneapolis Hennepin County

IDS Tower and Crystal Court, 80 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.975619° N, 93.272281° WLatitude: 44°58′32.228″N
Longitude: 93°16′20.212″W

Features the trend-setting Crystal Court atrium.

Shortly after Lawrence Halprin’s redesign of the nicollet mall in 1968 Minneapolis emphasis on civic progress took off. It became apparent there was a growing need for a common space and better pedestrian accomidations that suite the cities cold climate. In 1972 the IDS tower and Crystal court opened its doors to the city of Minneapolis with 1.4 million square feet of mixed retail, office, and plaza space that would provide for the growing city. Shell Construction took four years and $125,000,000 to complete the building.



The IDS center an icon to the Minneapolis skyline was the dream project for Philip Johnson. Originally planned as a twelve story quarter block building; the realizations of the IDS center transformed the city of Minneapolis during an era of crucial Urban Development. During the late 1940s traffic congestion was a huge problem and four fifths of those who occupied Minneapolis during the work day left at the end of the day. The 1950s bought huge infrastructure improvements across the country through the Interstate highway construction. This decreased congestion on regular bases but also increased the amount of automobiles coming and leaving the city each day. With concern towards encouraging pedestrian use and climate factors the development of the skyway became crucial to Minneapolis’ civic identity. The city wanted to encourage movement through the city by foot the IDS initiated this civic improvement as it influenced the later developments and expansion of the skyway system.

Design Process In 1963 the city of Minneapolis and Investors Diversified Services and Baker Properties discuss plans for a twelve story quarter block structure on the eighth and nicollet block. Over the next five years development along nicollet mall takes place and “civic confidence” develops in Minneapolis and the apparent need for community space and advancement in building technologies lead to the desire for an entire block complex. After Dayton Hudson corp joins the project as co anchor tenant Philip Johnson and John Burgee become the official architects along with local, Ed Baker (of Baker Properties). The first briefing called for a two story retail space for Woolworth’s and other shops along with a hotel and business office space to reach 50 some stories. Johnson’s believed this was “nearly impossible”. During the design phase Philip Johnson was especially pleased with the setting and location of the project. He considered Minneapolis a “delightful city” and was drawn to four pre-existing urban features for inspiration in his design. These including the “handsome successful pedestrian mall,” the skyway network, the two department stores, Dayton’s and Donaldson’s located on the mall, along with the central location of the site. Johnson referred to the proposed IDS site as the “epicenter” of Minneapolis. From the beginning Johnson was enthralled with the blending of Minneapolis’ business district with the downtown urban fabric and his goal was to complete a new type of city square within the complex. His first concern was the importance of identifying the separate parts of the center without boring the passerby. He situated the court at the interior of the space and broke up each 300 foot street front with a funnel entrance which brought the pedestrian into the internal court. Each funnel entrance was glass roofed, and the skyways- a glass walled bridge. Then he placed the 19 stories of hotel space along one side of the tower, and the consequent office space along the opposite side. The development of the Nicollet Mall shortly before the construction of the IDS played a crucial role in designing the entrances for the ground floor. Rather than placing the entrances on corners Johnson used this funnel effect to allow accessibility on the street front. The Nicollet mall’s wavy design protrudes at the point of the Tower’s Nicollet mall entrance making it seem extremely set back and drawing the pedestrian in into this interior courtyard.

When studying the material for the tower Johnson chose chrome coated semi-mirrored glass for its reflective quality. From the exterior one cannot see through only at which provides a “monolithic windowless effect” that is scale less. This isolates the tower as an object removing it from any type of association with other smaller buildings in its surroundings. Johnson’s fame at this point in his career was greatly centered on his findings and declaration of the International Style. This style in which the IDS center is designed includes three main features, asymmetry, volume over mass, and the rejection of ornamentation. In keeping with these rules it was essential for the tower to be of interesting asymmetrical form. Johnson played with the idea of stepping back the façade or creating a zigzag pattern to create visual interest. This study along with the choice of the reflective material concluded to the “zog” profile. This zigzagging wall surface created self-reflections that resulted in dark vertical bands. Here Johnson is able to create detail and greater visual effect without any ornamentation. The final piece of International Style regarding volume over mass is evident in the crystal court. 121 feet at its tallest point the court is covered by a series of pyramidal cascading blocks making a variety of volumes that seem weightless. 1) 2)

Looking to Piazza San Marco plaza in Venice as a prime example of the type of plaza Minneapolis needed. The function of a town square is not only for gathering and relaxing but most importantly for pedestrian movement. Johnson considered Minneapolis as a city which exists on two levels, referring to the skyways. Thus there would be seven entrances to his court one on each facing block with one entrance on top of another. In attempt to break up the circulation pattern none of the entrances are symmetrical to each other. While the bottom plan is rectangular, the second level pedestrian flow is at oblique angles to allow maximum views of the court and crowd below. Johnsons obsession with the passing on foot or procession though the space is what drove his design. His goals were to decrease the dependency on the automobile while downtown and hope that those who pass through his space would “get something out of getting around”. When designing this central space he played off the tension between outside and inside, because the crystal court is constructed of all glass the lack of walls prevents any in closed feeling. Also, the central area was linked to the street scape through its intimacy with Nicollet Mall, and assortment of views to the outside from the upper levels. Building Specifics There are four mechanical floors along with a freight floor. One mechanical floor exists between the 8th and 9th floor named 8A and 8B. Another set of mechanical floors is after the 51st floor 51A and 51B. These no occupied floors are noticeable from the exterior as being a black band. After the building was erected some leakage concerns occurred in the roof of the crystal court in response to Minnesota’s obscure freeze thaw cycle. Ice melting equiptment was not added until 2009.

Construction began in 1969 and finished in 1972. A grand opening celebration and symphony ball took place in the crystal court. Much publicity accrued over the span of construction and many important figures including Andy Warhol attended the opening gala. Also in 1993 the two story Woolworth closing store closes replaced by Gap, Banana Republic and other retail stores. The Orion room restaurant and is replaced by Windows on Minnesota. Originally containing an observation deck, the IDS center allowed for beautiful views over the entire city because of its central location. The observation deck was closed in 1993 and converted to office space. The crystal court also went under a minor makeover in 1993 when Shea architectus redirected the lobby’s elevators for greater elegance. They brightened the space though lighting remodel. April of 1994 Bill Clinton holds a rally for his health care campaign in the crystal court.

In 1998 the crystal court was reinstalled and rededicated after local architects HGA designed the 105 foot fountain that falls from the ceiling. They also added olive trees skirted with white benches. This redesign wins an AIA honor award the following year along with a merit award for the environmental improvements they made to the space. Many different restaurants, retail space, and owners have occupied the IDS tower over the years; most significantly the move of the majority of Target Corperation (formerly Dayton Hudson) to its own headquarters in 2002. Also the original owners Ameriprise Financial (formerly Investors Diversified Services) vacated the building in 2000. The building was sold to John Buck Company in 2004 only to be sold again the next year to Inland Real-estate Group, the current owners. Glove University moved into the IDS and opened its doors September of 2008 after a concourse upgrade by twenty below studios. Their renovation is set by the standards Philip Johnson set for maximum natural light. They occupy previous retail space in the basement of the center. In more recent years the IDS has received multiple awards and recognition for its progress in sustainability measures. Massive energy efficiency capital improvements have occurred including a closed loop water system saving 40 million gallons of water per year. The building has received energy star certification for superior energy efficiency. The IDS center won local and regional office building of the year for properties over one million square feet in 2011 and will advance to the International ranking.

Memories and stories


The IDS center truly became a landmark for downtown Minneapolis in the 1970s. Any movie or video footage shot in Minneapolis had to include scenes from the IDS. It attracted people from all over the country and has gathered much recognition over the years.

Since the IDS center opened in the 1970s it has been used as a backdrop for many major motion pictures and television shows. Most notably the introduction scene of the Mary Tyler Moore show where Ms. Moore walks across the Nicollet mall flips her hair and continues through the revolving doors of the crystal court. She is also seen riding up the elevators of the crystal court, eating at the original Basil’s restaurant and the third floor of the Marquette Hotel where the most superb views of the city can be seen.

Also, scenes from the 1990 Mighty Ducks Movie were shot in the crystal court along with a (then) Dayton Hudson meeting room on the 15th floor. Prince also shot scenes for his Purple Rain music video in the crystal court in 1983. A Tim Allen movie, Joe Somebody, includes scenes filmed in Huber White men’s store that were shot in 2000. T he IDS tower was also in the news for more tragic reasons. Three deaths have occurred due to fallings from the tower. Two of these deaths were suicides one in 1996 the other in 2001. Also, an IDS tower worker clearing snow off the roof of the crystal court fell six stories to his death in December of 2007.


65}px This place is part of the
Minnesota Modernism Tour


64px}px This place is part of
the ARCH5670 Class Project

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