General John W. Vessey Readiness Center

Arden Hills, Minnesota

The 149,735-SF National Guard Readiness Center Complex serves as the new home for the 34th Infantry Division, known as the Red Bulls. In the last decade, this unit has grown significantly in personnel, equipment and technology, and the new facility provides necessary administrative, training, secure work and storage areas.

The building is required to be very flexible. During typical weekday use, the occupancy is low and limited to primarily office use. During weekend drill activities, the occupancy increases tenfold and the use expands to include training exercises, equipment distribution, large scale food service and much more. To account for its wide variation in occupancy, the mechanical system was carefully zoned using geothermal heat pumps for regularly occupied and drill weekend spaces. Demand control ventilation was also used to reduce over-ventilating unoccupied spaces.

The design divides the building into three masses to efficiently support these uses: Unit Support, which is dedicated to the storage of supplies and weapons and includes unit storage spaces, vaults and locker rooms; Administration, which accommodates highly critical operations and communications, while requiring the flexibility to operate functionally with anywhere from 50 occupants to 600 occupants mitigating the impacts of M-day use on everyday function; and the Common Use, a central zone which includes the building entry and serves as a hub by which all spaces extend from.

To maximize sustainability, the design includes geothermal systems, photovoltaic arrays and EnergyStar equipment. The 26,000-SF area is served by an underfloor air distribution system to improve ventilation effectiveness, allowing for reduction of total ventilation, and reducing energy. This system was partitioned underfloor to create zones for spaces used regularly and those used only on drill weekends. The zones were then controlled by VAV boxes with demand control ventilation strategies. All DOAS units serving heat pumps and the VAV air handler serving the underfloor space are connected to the geothermal heat pump loop, consisting of 240,150-foot-deep wells. LED lights are used throughout, with occupancy and daylighting controls to minimize energy usage.

The facility was awarded LEED Gold® certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Gen. John W. Vessey Readiness Center


Minnesota Army National Guard

At a glance

149,735-SF facility houses training, equipment and administrative functions for Minnesota Army National Guard


Training, administrative, secure and storage spaces

Flexible design accommodates variety of occupancy needs

Sustainable features include geothermal systems, photovoltaic arrays and EnergyStar equipment

LEED Gold Certified



Mechanical, electrical and structural engineering


Grand Design Award, Society of American Military Engineers Design Awards 2022

Top Project Award, Minneapolis Finance&Commerce 2020