An Urban Legend

Urban and North Dakota. These words are rarely used in the same sentence, but architectural and engineering design firm ICON Architectural Group is changing this perception. Hailed “A City Within a City,” Urban Plains paints a new vision for the city of Fargo, and introduces “new urbanism” to the region. And the prized jewel of the development is the UP Center–a $44 million, 15-acre, five-rink complex that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

In today’s dynamic and challenging times, new trends (in federal funding, corporate social responsibility, economic development and consumer demands) are emerging for working assets that contribute to their own operating cost, and drive continued progress. This is particularly true in the parks and recreation industry, where assets have historically been built and forgotten. But the industry’s importance is growing in the public consciousness as it presents opportunity–economic vibrancy, quality of living, place making, tourism, resident retention and property-value enhancements–and can serve as a catalyst for attracting visitors to play and stay.

In conceiving the Urban Plains project and, in particular, the UP Center, ICON operated under the premise that becoming a leading public steward of natural and recreational public assets gives the project a platform for adopting cost-effective strategies that are likely to become the standards of support tomorrow.

“We put a lot of time into designing a project that can sustain itself financially for a community. We pride ourselves on being involved in a project and sharing some of the risk and the reward,” says Project Director Mike Kuntz. “This will host shows, concerts, exhibits–these are the types of events that show how quality of life is improved with an arena that doesn’t strap the city for millions and millions of dollars.”

A LEED-er In Sustainability And Savings

As one of only nine LEED-NC registered projects in North Dakota, going green never seemed so smart.

While the gradual evolution of the green economy has almost overnight become a revolution of the national economy, green building is still a relatively new concept in North Dakota. Indeed, the UP Center is ushering in a new era of real estate by creating a fresh vision that will enhance occupant health and productivity, lower operating costs, increase building longevity, be environmentally conscious, and take the athlete and fan experience to an entirely new level.

This marquee building boasts innovative, green-design solutions, and is seeking LEED-NC silver certification. Laying claim to the first and only facility with waterless urinals in North Dakota, the UP Center includes a variety of groundbreaking design elements that dramatically reduce energy and water usage at the arena, including:

· Dual-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads and faucets

· Reflective EPDM white membrane-roofing system

· Recycled plastic “lumber” for benches and shelving throughout the arena

· An extensive on-site, storm-water management system that controls and circulates rainwater and groundwater through natural filtration ponds, aeration and vegetation

· Motion sensors for restroom- and locker-room lighting controls.

Kuntz notes that North Dakota is one of a handful of states that do not allow the use of waterless urinals, but after petitioning the North Dakota State Plumbing Board, the state permitted ICON to install waterless urinals as an experiment for future buildings. “There will be a lot of people here for tournaments, so it is a great place to try these amenities,” he adds. Impressively, this effort, along with the dual-flush toilets, will save one-million gallons of water annually.

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