Project Highlights
  • Phase 1 (1985) – Four-story, 65,000 SF concrete and steel facility
  • Phase 2 (2017) – 21,700 SF expansion and 32,500 SF renovation

Minnesota Children’s Museum, built in 1985, began as a four-story, 65,000-square-foot structure. After more than 30 years, the renovation and expansion in 2017 aimed to improve and update the visitor experience and establish the building as a visible fun attraction. The reimagined museum includes a transformed atrium for improved entry sequencing, ticketing and circulation as well as a new central stair and elevator to create clear access to the exhibit galleries. With 40% more gallery space, creative office spaces, and a new multi-story climbing wall, the museum now successfully accommodates the increased visitor demand and achieves their mission of “sparking learning through play”.



through majority of construction

40% MORE

visitor space


guidelines State of Minnesota
Service Provided
  • Structural engineering


Phase 1 of the Minnesota Children’s Museum is a four-story, 65,000-square-foot structure with a partial basement used for fabrication shops, storage, and mechanical systems located in the southeast corner of the structure and a mezzanine located between the second and third floors. The primary structural system is composite concrete/metal deck slabs supported by composite steel beams and steel columns that bear on drilled concrete piers. The steel structure is laterally braced by a combination of braced and rigid frames. One of the most challenging aspects of this project was dealing with many subterranean conditions in the sandstone layer, including unknown tunnels. MBJ modified the foundation design to accommodate existing conditions discovered during construction.

Phase 2 added 40% more visitor space to the museum with a 9,800-square-foot addition and renovation of 46,000 square feet of existing space, designed in accordance with State of Minnesota B3 sustainable guidelines. The project includes new galleries, a four-story climbing tower, a new café and dining area, a skyway entrance, and an expanded reception area to better accommodate larger groups. With special project phasing and construction sequencing, MBJ was able to deliver the project on schedule, keeping the facility operational throughout the majority of construction.


St. Paul, MN


Ph 1: 1995 | Ph 2: 2017

Construction Cost:

Ph 1: $10,000,000 | Ph 2: $15,000,000


Minnesota Children’s Museum


Ph 1: James/Snow Architects, Inc. + Alliiance | Ph 2: MSR Design


Ph 1: Knutson Construction | Ph 2: J.E. Dunn