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Colored Concrete Pavers Provide Finishing Touches For Minnesota Street Makeover

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 03 April, 2001  (Company News)
To revitalize the central business district and create an environment that would encourage people to come back downtown for shopping and entertainment, Worthington officials chose pre-cast colored concrete pavers to link the old and new elements of their town.
Like many municipalities across the United States, movement to the suburbs, or 'sprawl,' had resulted in an aging cityscape in Worthington, a city of approximately 10,000 people in southwest Minnesota. The city's main street, once a bustling commercial thoroughfare, had been long underused and somewhat ignored. Still, many attractive elements remained.

Typical of many Midwestern towns, Worthington's four-block-long central business district consists mostly of brown- and red-brick buildings constructed around the beginning of the 20th century.

Architectural design firm Sander Wacker Bergley, of St. Paul, Minn., immediately recognized the multi-colored palette of the buildings as both a challenge and an opportunity. The variations in building facades along 10th Street would need a visual linkage, so the firm recommended that the corners of the sidewalk at four intersections, and short entryways to roughly 40 businesses, be redone in pre-cast colored concrete pavers to provide that unifying visual element, tying the old buildings to the new streetscape.

According to architect Greg Johnson, 'We studied the existing street, the new elements to be added, and the renderings of the finished project, in order to help us pick just the right paver and color.'

For the 10th Street Project, Sander Wacker Bergley specified 8,500 square feet of fan-shaped pavers manufactured by Interlock Concrete Products, Inc., of Jordan, Minn. The color the architects called for was Interlock's 'Range 1, Red/Charcoal,' a paver color that would complement all of the buildings along 10th Street.

Range 1 pavers range from nearly all charcoal to all red, with variations bridging every color shade in between. This color selection works well with the lightest to darkest brick building. Interlock pavers are made with Bayferrox synthetic iron oxide pigments made by Bayer Corporation. Bayferrox pigments are consistent in color and strong in color intensity.

Travis Lawrence, Interlock's Product Consultant, cites the growing use of colored pavers in outdoor construction projects. 'They're more interesting and eye-appealing than poured gray concrete,' he says. 'And once people discover that the price increment isn't that great and become educated on all the advantages over poured concrete, they are sold on this product.'

Beyond providing enhanced aesthetics, colored pavers are highly durable. They withstand heavy freeze/thaw cycles, are unaffected by de-icing salts, and allow the use of normal snow-removal equipment ... all very important when considering Minnesota winters. And, because pavers are easy to remove and replace should any repair be required, there are no unsightly repair patches, enabling the pavers to contribute to a longer-lasting beautiful appearance.

Nelson Landscaping, a local company, installed the pavers in 18 days. Working on a poured concrete base, first a bed of sand was applied. Then the pavers were set in place in the specified pattern, which included a 'soldier course' along all edges then compacted into place. This interlocks the pavers and creates a mortarless bond with the sand that becomes integral with the paver layer.

The landscaping company's work on 18 different walkways and store entrances was completed in late 1998. The final touches for the entire streetscape were made in the spring of 1999.

In addition to the new street corners and entrances, the $3.5 million renovation project also included new benches, planters, outdoor lighting and freestanding columnar entrances. With 260 shrubs, 2,100 perennials, 600 annuals and 63 trees, the four blocks between First and Fifth avenues are now an inviting stretch that encourages strolling, bench sitting, shopping and restaurant going. People from Worthington and smaller surrounding towns in this farming region have made it a local destination, pleasing the city's officials, the Chamber of Commerce and business owners along 10th Street.

Dwayne Haffield, Worthington's city engineer, says, 'We got our downtown back, and it's because we had a committed leadership and the backing of our citizens. There has been a great appreciation of the effort and investment made here.'
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