Minnesota Stadium Project Standing Ground on Glass Usage Amid Bird Debate

Rendering the new stadium, via Vikings.com

Rendering of the new stadium, via Vikings.com

Glass is no new foe to birds, but an ongoing construction project that will utilize approximately 200,000 square feet of glass in a migratory area has recently directed much attention to the matter.

A new multi-purpose stadium in Minnesota—which will host the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings—is under construction and is slated to open in 2016.

The Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution earlier this month urging the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority to “design a bird-safe stadium, in keeping with the recommendations of the Stadium Implementation Committee, the comments of the Department of Natural Resources, and the advice of the Minnesota Audubon Society.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Smithsonian Institution, an estimated 365 to 988 million birds are killed annually by building collisions in the U.S., particularly in collisions with windows.

Audubon, a prominent bird conservation society, has taken the lead on the movement against the MSFA’s choice of glass. The MSFA has had ongoing dialogue with Audubon since last May and worked with Mortenson, the construction agency, and HKS, the architectural firm, on the matter.

However, the Authority contends that the new stadium design and budget were completed prior to conversations with Audubon, and that the design was completed prior to changes in state guidelines related to “bird-safe glass.”

The MSFA assures it will follow Audubon’s “Lights Out” guidelines and will follow as many of Audubon’s lighting suggestions as possible, though consideration for changes to the glass, as proposed by Audubon and its movement, is essentially moot at this point.

“While the stadium design and budget will not accommodate the fritted glass being proposed, we will adopt the Audubon Society’s operational guidelines to protect birds used by the many downtown office and residential buildings that have large glass exteriors,” says Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the MSFA.

The Council affirms that “upgrading to bird-safe glass would add and estimated $1.1 million to the cost of the stadium, or 0.1 percent of the overall project budget of more $975 million,” noting that approximately $150 million of taxpayers’ money is being utilized in the project.

Matthew Anderson, executive director at Audubon Minnesota, told USGNN.com™ that the society will be delivering a petition—which currently has more than 72,000 signatures—to the governor of Minnesota.

Minnesota-based glass supplier Viracon has been contracted for the stadium job, and Anderson points out that HKS designed the recently built Dallas Cowboys stadium and used Viracon’s fritted glass on the curtainwall. As of press time, HKS hadn’t returned a request for comment.

Anderson says Audubon has reached out to the MSFA since their last statement but hasn’t heard anything back.

A spokesperson from the MSFA told USGNN.com™ that the Authority’s stance on the matter remains the same today as it did earlier this month, when it responded to Audubon’s call to action. The MSFA says it will continue to work with Audubon on “operational enhancements that will help make the facility bird friendly.”

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One Response to Minnesota Stadium Project Standing Ground on Glass Usage Amid Bird Debate

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