Third Avenue in Minneapolis used to run due south from the Mississippi River, past the convention center, and on to the Minneapolis Institute of Art in the southern part of the city where the Pillsburys and other high rollers built their first mansions. The convention center’s most recent expansion has changed that.

It was an $18 million job for Premier Electric Corp., the project’s electrical contractor. Premier’s Doug Olson said his St. Paul-based company handled the high-voltage aspects of the job, while Impulse Group, Minneapolis, took care of the low-voltage work.

The most challenging part of the job was its schedule; a lot of soil correction was needed on the Third Ave. grounds, but it was done in time for the first convention. Premier had plenty of help from IBEW Local 292, Olson said.

Chris Larson, director of facility services for the city, which manages the million-and-a-half-gross-square-foot complex, said there also were a variety of subcontractors.

“Some parts of the lighting were done by local companies,” Larson said.

The project was quite large.

“[The] construction cost was around $200 million for the latest expansion,” Larson said.

Larson said that its size now compares with other second-tier convention centers. “[It’s] about the same as San Diego’s. Our exhibit space is about 475,000 square feet,” he said.
The center handles approximately 500 separate events annually, from large high school graduations to the annual auto and boat shows.

Impulse Group Inc. was the prime contractor for the low-voltage systems. For Impulse, the $9.2 million contract included project management, documentation, material provision and systems integration of audiovisual systems, fire alarm systems, low-voltage conduit systems, projection screens, security systems and voice and data systems.

The project took about 30 months from start to completion. In the middle of the project, said CEO Katharine Norton, Impulse Group had grown to more than $17 million in active installation contracts.

“The low-voltage systems contract included the integration of the A/V, fire alarm, CCTV, security intercom, access control and voice/data systems to provide a network of communication, driving the safety, security and functionality of the facility,” Norton said.

“As with many large projects, the strength of each member of your team has a great effect on the project outcome,” Norton said. “Electronic Design Co. (EDC), founded in 1955, is a valued partner of ours. EDC is an industry leader in the audio, video and security technologies providing design, installation and systems service for the education, house of worship, healthcare, corporate/industrial and large-venue performance facilities.”

With more than 150 years of combined industry experience, the technical staff of EDC includes systems designers, field technicians, field installers and project managers. Field technicians and installers are members of the IBEW Local 292 of Minneapolis, Norton said, and receive the foundation of their training through the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC).

Additionally, each part of the technical integration team at EDC works closely with partner manufacturers and industry professionals to maintain the most current manufacturer and industry certifications. While having a pile of technology is great, it is of little value unless the human resources know how to handle its features. To that end, the contractors provided training classes for four administrators and for 10 line workers to ensure everyone was up to speed on both technology and security aspects of the installation.

The materials for the expansion and upgrade were sourced directly from the manufacturer, ensuring direct support channels to assist the EDC technical staff in dealing with the nuances of each system’s communication and installation needs.

EDC integrated the security systems for the convention center. The security technology for the Minneapolis Convention Center expansion required not only integration with other low-voltage systems but also complete integration with the existing facilities systems. It included the addition of system components and features as well as upgrades to the existing facilities’ technology.

Technical specs

The job used a host of components. Among the key items were 20 Kalatel DVMRe-10CD-150 digital recorders. Each of the 10-channel units has two 75-GB hard drives. The company’s Wave Rider software was installed on the computers.

The security system features Phillips products. The heart of the system is 19 of the company’s LTC0450/21 color cameras. Most of the units were mounted using the Phillips G-3 indoor pendant mounting pipe, although a half dozen were wall mounted, also on G-3s. The company’s 20-inch, high-resolution LTC2921160 color monitors were installed. There are 15 of those monitors, allowing full coverage of the key areas in the convention center, and an additional 18 Phillips unity dome cameras with lenses, model TC9349/20CH-26, were teamed with three model LTC9449/20CH-26 units for ceiling mounting.

Of course, with a project of this size, there was a need for many cabinets and racks for both the security and the low-voltage equipment. Atlas Soundolier provided most of the rails and racks, including both 70-inch and 77-inch models with locking rear doors. The units are 25.5-inches deep.

The CCTV system required alarm integration with the security intercom system, access control system and the fire/life safety systems. Siemon Co. supplied both the Category 5e-compliant four-pair cabling with RJ45 connectors at each end and the fiber patch cables used for connectivity. A combination of twisted-pair, fiber and coaxial cabling was used to solve issues with the distance and technology integrations and cabling path issues inherent to this size of facility. The expansion doubled the size of the facility while maintaining centralized control of security operations.

The control space for the integrated security solutions included a custom Winsted control console, as shown in the schematic. From there, the facility has access to manage all facility alarm situations with both visual and audio communications. Safety and security are able to be addressed in a more cohesive and time-sensitive manner as a result of the ability of the systems to communicate with each other to provide complete situational information to the individuals responsible for the facility both in real-time and through historical review.

Premier Electric Corp., Impulse Group and Electronic Design Co.’s contribution to the convention center expansion, brings added life to the southern edge of downtown Minneapolis. The city’s convention center is now a much more impressive structure, and the quick work of these companies made it possible.

STEVENS is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer who covers various fields including construction, retailing and marketing. He can be reached at 612.871.3698. HARLER, a frequent contributor to SECURITY + LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He can be reached at 440.238.4556 or curt@curtharler.com.