TCF Bank Stadium project gains national acclaim for its architectural millwork

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Contractor: Paul's Woodcraft Company
Client: University of Minnesota Football Stadium
Project Type: Architectural Millwork

Over the last 10 years, Paul’s Architectural Woodcraft Company/Mouldings Plus has provided the architectural millwork for a wide range of distinguished projects – from the TPC Sawgrass Golf Country Club in Ponte Verde FL., to the Washington County Government Center in Minneapolis. Its work has benefited local judicial systems, educational facilities, and professional sports.

Its reputation for delivering top-quality work at high-end, high-profile jobs was put to the test recently at perhaps its most ambitious project to date – the $288.5 million University of Minnesota football stadium (now known as TCF Bank Stadium).

Paul’s Woodcraft was put in charge of the entire architectural millwork package – from lockers to skyboxes to entryways.

The bar was set high, according to principals John and Tim Benson, a father-son duo that has been with the family-run business for years. “We’re in very visible places,” said John Benson, executive vice president of the Plymouth, MN, company.

M.A. Mortenson Company was the general contractor for the project, which broke ground in July 2007. Mortenson is the largest construction company in Minnesota and the nation’s third largest builder of sports facilities. “Mortenson’s is a very demanding company, very organized; they dot their I’s and cross their T’s, and they do everything that way,” said Tim Benson, vice president at Paul’s Woodcraft, who was jobsite coordinator for the stadium project.

Paul’s Woodcraft did extensive millwork to the skyboxes and entryways, but by far the most exacting, time-consuming work took place in the expansive locker room, which measures 60 yards long by 25 yards wide, making it the largest such facility among the Big Ten college football teams.

A total of 120 individual lockers were hand-crafted and adapted to conventional building trends. The company used Makore, a species of hardwood found in Central Africa that is sometimes referred to as African Cherry. Makore has a glisten to it and is said to feature excellent finishing and gluing capabilities to enhance the carpentry appeal. “It’s unique, and it has a really good looking color with a nice grain to it,” John Benson said.

The challenge for the millworkers was to make the 120 individual locker stalls look uniform. The room is in the shape of a football and features a massive LED light fixture overhead in the shape of the Minnesota ‘M.’ Another ‘M’ is etched into the individual lockers and also adorns the locker room carpet.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, who writes about Big Ten 10 sports, called the locker room “undoubtedly the stadium’s best feature.”

Because of the stadium’s scheduled opening Sept. 12, 2009, keeping to a schedule was of paramount importance. “We always do quality work, we’re used to it, but this was difficult and very labor intensive,” John Benson said. “Because of the scheduling and having to secure all of the materials and work with the design team and the contractors and making sure it is exactly what the school wants, the scheduling had to move right along. There were a lot people onsite and all the trades had to work in unison to make sure their job was completed so that the next skilled trade could do its job. Everyone had to make sure they were on schedule.”

Staying on schedule is a little easier for Paul’s Architectural Woodcraft because the company does all of its own drafting, manufacturing and finishing. It also has its own installation crew. “We control our own destiny because we control how the job is being done,” John Benson said. “We communicate many times a day, and if there is a problem it gets corrected right away. We’re not waiting on someone to get a job finished so we can continue. We can finish it even if that means putting in the extra hours. Our installers know they may have to put in a 10-hour day, or work on a Saturday, to get the job done.”

Tim Benson said the locker room part of the project seemed daunting at first. “When you first walk into the area you think about how much work you have ahead of you,” he said. “But now we can take a step back and see how great it looks and enjoy the positive comments about it. It was demanding, it was challenging, but that’s what makes it fun in the end. We stayed focused, kept a couple of steps ahead of the schedule and kept things rolling. It’s one of the best run jobs I’ve been on since I’ve worked here. I have zero complaints.”

About Paul’s Architectural Woodcraft

Paul’s Architectural Woodcraft Company dates back to 1954 via a couple of owners. Paul’s Woodcraft, as it is often referred to, manufactures customer commercial and residential millwork. Some of the products it manufactures include architectural hardwood veneer paneling, reception desks, conference tables, wood and plastic laminate cabinets, door-frames and doors, and stair work and handrails.

The work of Paul’s Architectural Woodcraft Company/Mouldings Plus is found in prestigious professional offices, modern manufacturing headquarters, courthouses and sports stadiums across the country. The company also excels in golf country clubs, such as TPC Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Verde Beach, Florida.

Its diverse customer base includes the Walker Art Center, Coffman Memorial Hall, University of Minnesota Bookstore, Radisson Water Park of America in Bloomington, Venture Bank, Honeywell, Methodist Hospital and many other discerning customers who understand the skill level of Paul’s Woodcraft professionals, all of whom are trained by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. “Our clients come to us for our thorough processes, innovative design, creative solutions and quality craftsmanship. They stay with us because of our incredible results,” John Benson said.

Executive Team:

Matt Benson - President
John Benson - Executive Vice President
Tim Benson - Vice President
Lynette Benson - Sec/Treasurer


2730 Fernbrook Ln N
Plymouth, MN 55447-4859
Phone: 763-559-2990

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