Alchemy hosts a SPECStacular party!

Granted, we gave pretty short notice of this party via weeMail and we apologize for that! But for those who were able to attend the SPECStacular Event this past Saturday ... thanks for coming! Some information on this custom architecture project by Alchemy:

Minneapolis, MN — A new eye-catching façade for SPECS Optical in Uptown has been created by St. Paul-based Alchemy Architects. A city landscape beautification project had obscured the SPECS Optical storefront located at the busy corner of Hennepin Ave. S. and 22nd St. West and owners John Oliva and Nancy Krant’s options were limited by sign code restrictions. Using optics and transparency, Alchemy’s design draws attention to the building, encouraging people to “see differently”. A crystalline envelope of 5/8" thick greenhouse polycarbonate was attached to the storefront openings. The self-supporting skin was manipulated to form offset and distorted frames around the existing windows. “We wanted the design to mirror the optical store’s function and pushed ideas of frame and optics to the building’s public face,” said Geoffrey Warner, AIA, founder and principal of Alchemy Architects.

Design work was undertaken using 3-D computer modeling. The dimensional plans were then flattened, allowing for efficient model and physical production with a CNC router. Instead of working drawings, a perfect scale model of the skin was used as a 3-D guide to installation, with all pieces numbered in small and full scales. This innovative approach provided the freedom to explore geometry that would have been extremely difficult to produce using conventional methods. Custom translucent urethane straps were cut to provide a continuous “stitched” seam at the edges. The aluminum sign boxes were laser-cut and welded to contain the store identity. Very low-energy LED lights color-phase in and out to illuminate the façade. Custom aluminum planter boxes greet clients and neighborhood walkers alike, wrapping up the building from top-to-bottom with texture and eye-catching detailing. It’s a new way to see the growing architectural creativity in the Twin Cities.

Creative + Build:

SPECS Optical: 2204 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN, Phone: 612-374-2114, Web site:
Design and Fabrication: Alchemy LLC: Geoffrey Warner, Scott Ervin, Khanh Nguyen, Blake Lloya
Graphic Design and Identity: Werner Designwerks, Sharon Werner, Principal, Web site:
Lighting Design: Jim Marvy
Panel Fabrication: Atomic Architectural Sheet Metal, Web site:
Signage Lettering: Archetype Signs, Contact: Steve Carpenter, 651-994-9363, Web site:
Installation: K-A Construction and Alchemy

And here are a few photos of the fun!