The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 15, 2014

Krohn column: Mankato skyline to get new look

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Constructing buildings of more than a couple of stories in downtown Mankato calls for some extra engineering. The silty soil, left from centuries of river deposits, would leave us with our own version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa without what are called "soil corrections."

They don't usually correct the soil, they just pound huge steel columns into the ground until they hit bedrock, to provide a solid foundation. The depth they go in varies, but the ones under the Hilton went down about 45 feet.

City Community Development Director Paul Vogel said various considerations need to be made when someone plans a building substantially taller than those around them. One is pure aesthetics — would the building so overwhelm that it would look wrong? The big corner lot of the new office tower gives it plenty of room to spread out and up without looking out of place.

And, said Vogel, designers have to look at things you might not consider, such as whether a big new building could create wind effects that would drift too much snow on neighboring rooftops, creating collapse risks.

By next fall, people will get their own look at how the buildings change the city's skyline. Coming across the Veteran's Bridge, the view of the tower and equally sized Hilton book-ending the downtown, should be impressive.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6383.

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