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MSP Silver Ramp recognized with engineering award

MSP Airport's Silver Ramp has been honored with a grand award for engineering excellence by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Minnesota. The project is now eligible for national honors.

The 11-story Silver Ramp opened in August 2020 and added 5,000 additional public parking spaces to the airport campus. It also serves as the new Terminal 1 Transit Center – a transportation hub for auto rentals, buses, shuttles, the regional light rail system, and even bicycles. 

"Designing and building this new ramp is a major accomplishment that will serve MSP well for years to come," said Bridget Rief, vice president of Planning, Development & Environment for the MAC. "This award is a wonderful recognition of the many people and organizations who collaborated to make this three-year project happen."  

Building the ramp brought tremendous challenges, including constructing it over the existing underground Metro Transit light rail station and designing the ramp so it wouldn't impede FAA airfield communications. Traditional precast concrete or metal panel facades could not be used.

The solution was the creation of a facade system using terra cotta baguettes (that don't impede radar function), which featured darker colors near the ground and lighter colors at higher levels. The building appears to fade into the sky on sunny days.

"The engineering solution steered us toward a new visual identity for the building that everyone loves," said Ben Henderson, vice president at Kimley-Horn and Associates, the program manager for the project.

The ramp incorporates several sustainability features, including recyclable construction materials, LED lighting, HVAC and lighting occupancy sensors, low-flow plumbing fixtures, electric vehicle chargers, native landscaping, and a universal access design.

The structure can also accommodate a future solar installation that would expand MSP's solar generation capacity beyond its current 4.3-megawatt capacity from existing rooftop solar panel systems.

"The team did a fabulous job delivering this program," said Rief. "It is not only beautiful and functional, with sustainable elements and art pieces, it truly creates an enhanced passenger experience and a multi-modal hub for MSP." 

In addition to Kimley-Horn, several other companies were involved in the design and construction of the ramp: Miller Dunwiddie Architecture of Minneapolis was the project architect; Michaud Cooley Erickson of Minneapolis was the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and security consultant; Minneapolis-based CNA was the geo-structural consultant; Kraus Anderson, also based in Minneapolis, was the construction coordinator on the project; PCL Construction was the prime contractor on the project.