We’re excited to officially announce the new Wilkus Architects office in Hopkins, MN!

15 9th Avenue North | Hopkins, MN 55343

Architecture requires careful thought across multiple scales. It's important for one to understand the implications of design decisions across all of these scales. One of the smallest scales requiring careful thought is the architectural detail. This week's edition of #WilkusRelocation illustrates a journey through a challenging sill wall detail, told by project manager Jon Buerg, AIA, CDT, LEED AP®.


Encountering hidden conditions when altering existing construction is a very common event with renovation projects. Schedule, budget and even a client’s understanding of the project development process can influence how much of the existing conditions are assessed prior to beginning design work on the renovation; all of which can greatly influence outcomes and cause problems en route to the eventual solution. For our firm’s new office project, we used our experience to inform our approach to assessing the existing conditions and made choices while designing that could provide flexible solutions pending any hidden conditions that may be uncovered during construction. A good example of this process is an existing sill wall underneath the existing storefront along the west exterior of the building.


The existing sill wall was obscured on the interior side by existing construction that we knew we did not want to reuse. From the exterior, we could see that the original designers of this building placed the storefront framing in alignment with the outside face of the face brick veneer.

Every detail is unique to its project, and the bracing detail for this old sill wall was no different.

This observation tells us that that the most cost-effective solution when replacing the old, damaged storefront with new storefront is to maintain that plane; but at the time of the assessment it was a mystery as to how the face brick was made load bearing to support the old storefront system.

In our construction documents, we specified selective demolition for the contractor to carefully remove the existing construction that was obscuring the sill wall’s interior side and then coordinated a site visit following demolition to review the revealed condition. We observed that any original bracing of the old face brick to its CMU backup had failed over time and came up with a new bracing solution that utilized dimensional lumber to help keep down costs.

Every detail is unique to its project, and the bracing detail for this old sill wall was no different. We had to take into consideration schedule, construction costs, availability of materials and aesthetics in crafting a solution that successfully dealt with hidden conditions and met the requirements of the original design.

Thanks to our firm’s experience-driven approach to the assessment of the existing conditions at the start of the project, we were well prepared to deal with hidden conditions that we knew would present a challenge once they were revealed during the construction phase of the project. It was this planning and a good approach to project delivery that contributed to an efficient and cost-effective solution for the sill wall at our Hopkins office." - Jon Buerg, AIA, CDT, LEED AP®

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