North Loop building designed by LHB achieves highest distinction for healthy building environment
LHB has been awarded WELL Certification at the Gold level for The Nordic, a custom multi-tenant office building located in Minneapolis. The prestigious distinction was announced by the International WELL Building Institute, whose rigorous certification standards focuses on enhancing human health and well-being through building design.
The Nordic is a modern yet authentic interpretation of the historic warehouses that surround the site. The adjoining public plaza and a spacious lobby within the building provide comfortable environments where office workers, visitors, and even neighborhood residents can gather and relax.
“The Nordic was designed pre-pandemic, with a focus on health and well-being that may have seemed novel at the time,” LHB architect Stacee Demmer said. “Many of the features we incorporated—from enhanced air quality to operable windows—allowed the building to remain open during the pandemic. The design helped reduce health risks to tenants.”
To meet WELL Building Standard certifications, the Nordic was evaluated on seven categories of building performance — air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mind.
Project features that helped The Nordic achieve its WELL Certified Gold rating include:
- Operable windows: Inhabitants can control the amount of fresh air in their environment by opening windows—which is unusual in an office building. Exterior air-quality sensors and a notification system alert tenants when outside air is pollutant-heavy.
- Enhanced air quality through ventilation, filtration, and contaminant reduction strategies: Each floor in the 10-story building has its own air handling unit so workers can control air flow and temperature.
- Material transparency: Preference was given to healthy and low VOC materials. Wood floors were finished with water-based sealers rather than oils, and many surfaces were left exposed for aesthetic as well as health reasons.
- Biophilic design: Nature plays a part in the design. Trees provide greenery and shade on the public plaza, and The Nordic’s owners maintain plants throughout the building. Organic patterns infuse the interior with a natural aesthetic.
- Exterior activities: Curling and bocce, in winter and summer respectively, are popular activities on the plaza, and tables, benches, and a fire pit encourage outdoor gatherings, yoga classes, and more.
To be awarded WELL Certification by IWBI, The Nordic underwent rigorous testing and a final evaluation carried out by Green Business Certification Inc., a third-party certification body, to ensure it met all WELL Certified Gold performance requirements.