Case Study

Minnesota Health Clinic Relies on Nichiha for Extreme Weather Protection

Robust cladding offers dynamic looks and proven protection 

Health care facilities are among the most vital brick-and-mortar buildings globally. Patients and visitors place their trust in their health care providers at a time of great need and vulnerability. Likewise, providers must keep their focus on their roles and their patients, unencumbered by other ancillary burdens.  

With this in mind, hospitals, clinics, and other treatment settings must be rock-solid structures, able to shelter occupants in more ways than one. Long-term protection from the elements is essential. At the same time, the appearance of these centers must reflect their role – a place of serenity and comfort, where someone goes to get better. This need to balance performance and desirable aesthetics is precisely what led a Minnesota health care organization to specify Nichiha for the building envelope on a facility offering a continuum of care for residents. 

Unmatched value 

The Park Nicollet Clinic and Specialty Center opened as a standalone, 83,500-square-foot facility in Burnsville, MN, in 2020. The newly constructed facility was placed directly adjacent to the organization’s existing clinic, supplementing an already robust health care campus.  

From the very beginning, architects from BWBR in St. Paul, MN, sought a durable cladding solution—initially, metal panels. Cost quickly became an issue. 

“Metal panels can often be more than twice as expensive as Nichiha,” said Dan Studnicka, territory manager for Nichiha. “[BWBR] was at a point where they needed to view some value options. They still needed something durable that wouldn’t sacrifice on performance. That’s why they chose us. They can have the design they were going for, but one that saves them cost.” 

At a far better price point, Nichiha’s 5/8” thick panels quickly leapt forward as a top option. Aesthetics wouldn’t be lost either, thanks to fiber cement’s remarkable ability to mimic traditional building materials.  

The panels on this project are often mistaken for metal panels, even though they’re fiber cement,” added Studnicka. 

Comforting contemporary looks  

Like many health facilities, the Park Nicollet Clinic and Specialty Center is a high-traffic establishment. After all, the health campus it sits on accounts for more than 25 medical and surgical services, with the clinic itself offering everything from same-day surgeries to orthopedic urgent care. The clinic was purpose-built to embrace such a high patient volume. The exterior aesthetic reflects this.  

The project utilized numerous Nichiha panels including ArchitecturalBlock in gray, and TuffBlock in steel. But the most eye-catching details lie in the facility’s wood accents, achieved with Nichiha’s VintageWood in cedar, and the mixture of custom-colored Illumination cladding in various shades of gray.  

The result is a contemporary look with crisp modern lines, a hallmark use of Nichiha panels. This, combined with the glass-heavy exterior, provides a reassuring look for visitors in need of care.  

Easy installation, proven durability 

Nichiha’s Ultimate Clip System benefitted installers on the large project, allowing the building’s façade to be quickly erected. Installation was so simple that the general contractor opted to install it themselves 

“Normally for a project of that size, [the general contractor] is going to ‘sub out’ the labor,” said Studnicka. “Once they saw our system and how it works, they basically said, ‘Forget that, we’re going to have our crew do it. They self-performed the installation, which is very rare for a project of this size.” 

Once the starter track is installed properly at the specified level, subsequent Nichiha panels install upward. Lauded for its simplicity, the system is also highly resilient against harsh climates. In the summer, Nichiha cladding is a more stable cladding choice, being fire resistant and able to resist the damaging effects of thermal expansion.  

In Minnesota, the region’s severe winters are likely the building’s most notorious adversary. Fiber cement withstands extreme temperature fluctuations without cracking, and it can stand up to winds up to 130 mph. In fact, it can even endure an object striking the surface at 75 mph, all while engineered with an integrated rainscreen. 

Such characteristics are welcome news for a health care setting in an area that averages 48” of snow annually. 

Worry-free longevity 

When seeking medical care, a building’s resilience should not be top of mind. In fact, it should seldom be thought of at all. In selecting Nichiha cladding, architects for Park Nicollet Clinic and Specialty Center ensured occupants can focus solely on health care 


The Challenge

Foster trust and comfort through a contemporary design that lasts. Ensure that the building envelope can protect occupants from the extremes of a northern climate.

The Solution

A high-value fiber cement cladding system that can be easily installed, minimizes project disruptions, and maximizes design aesthetics.

The Results

The Park Nicollet Clinic and Specialty Center utilized Nichiha cladding to create a high-end look that instills trust for people seeking excellent care. The polished look will be able to protect the building for decades to come.

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