Izzy’s is the quintessential neighborhood mom and pop ice cream store. Jeff Sommers and Lara Hammel quit jobs in teaching and law to open an ice cream store in a small rented store front in St Paul MN 13 years ago. Due to growing demand they decided to create a Minneapolis branch which would have a small retail shop and a larger kitchen where they could continue small-batch ice cream production. Their environmental thinking led them to a small site in downtown Minneapolis across Gold Medal Flour Park from Nouvel’s Guthrie Theater along the Mississippi riverfront, that had been laying vacant for years due to the financial infeasibility of its dimunitive size and brownfield conditions. When Jeff and Lara approached us to design the Minneapolis ice cream kitchen and retail shop, they wanted it to be an example of environmental stewardship and humane work environment.
The resultant 7500sf ($213/sf) ice cream kitchen and retail shop building and the Guthrie-Theater act like book-ends to Gold Medal Flour Park and connect downtown buildings to the Mississippi river at the larger urban scale. The playful colors on the building’s exterior and interior not only reference the blue Guthrie and Izzy’s signature red color, but are used to satisfy the zoning code that requires a material change every 24’. In addition the colors are used for painted signage, symbolize the Izzy’s scoop and the joy of eating ice cream and warm the interior.
The tight constraints of the linear site dictated an elongated footprint. The curvilinear Northeast end was a result of fitting in a driveway and turning radius for a semi-truck with a full- size 60’ trailer towards the North East for deliveries. This elongation helped create a versatile interior kitchen with bays for setting up small-batch ice cream stations which are fully naturally lit by deep clearstories running in the shorter east-west direction. In addition a linear buffer zone of refrigerators, freezers and wash areas was located between deliveries and manufacturing towards the East. On the South and West sides, public sidewalks abut the facades creating the public front for the small retail shop. In the retail shop, the large windows in the tall double story space with a floating mezzanine, open the space to the spectacular views of downtown and riverfront and provide natural light and solar gain when needed. The high parapet walls provide surface area for a future installation of solar panels and painted signage for the retail shop. Symbolic of the miniscule Izzy’s scoop that tops all Izzy’s ice cream the small tower painted the Izzy’s red, marks the location of the retail shop while bringing natural light into the space. The high parapet walls also create a protected roof space for growing herbs that flavor the ice cream. This elongation and orientation allows both the kitchen work area and the retail shop to face the dramatic surrounding views and creates a long series of outdoor seating options that allow customers to enjoy the views under the shade of the boulevard trees. A row of windows along the public sidewalk makes the inner workings of the kitchen visible. The deliveries made along the NE side of the building occur only once a week and the curving drive thus duals as outdoor protected overflow seating for retail shop customers defined by a future wood fence on which vines will grow.
The brownfield site required extensive clean-up and soil replacement. The unique foundation design allows the entire structure to float over buried debris field from past industrial uses of the site. The building is designed to receive future solar panels and wind scoop and is fully naturally lit during daytime. Low-cost and low-maintenance materials helped minimize the construction budget. Easy access to all the infrastructure, open kitchen space that could be easily reconfigured allows for flexibility and versatility in the production process and low operational costs. Due to its designation as a food manufacturing facility, unfiltered natural ventilation was not an option. However, the mechanical system is designed with and economizer cycle which will allow the building to be 100% naturally ventilated while filtering out dust and other pollutants when the conditions are right.
Jeff and Lara intend to continue sustainable efforts, such as 100% cleaning without chemicals, small batches of production to ensure quality, locally sourced and sustainable food products. The shell has been created and the installation of the equipment for the ice cream making stations on the interior and on the roof is ongoing and will continue as the process evolves and the business grows.