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Fargo City Hall. IMAGE: T.L. Stroh Architects-Interiors

Not too lavish, not too Spartan: Fargo's Goldilocks City Hall

FARGO, N.D. – “Here's why I was impressed with the Alerus Center,” wrote Grand Forks Herald columnist Ryan Bakken back in 2001, talking about Grand Forks’ then-new city-owned arena.

“It's nice.

“It isn't too nice.”

The building is attractive and functional. And that’s good, because it’s important that visitors come away impressed.

“But not too impressed,” Bakken wrote.

Because the Alerus Center was built with taxpayer money. And North Dakotans tend to grumble when tax dollars are spent on frills.

The same philosophy is at work in the new Fargo City Hall, the design of which was famously scaled back when city commissioners balked at the initial price tag of more than $30 million.

The new City Hall opened for business on Sept. 17. And as far as we can tell, the word on the street is:

Nice.

Very nice.

But not too nice.

“In the initial design, there was a three-story atrium, there were catwalks suspended from cables, there was lots of extra public space,” said project architect Terry Stroh of T.L. Stroh Architects-Interiors.

“The consultant kept talking about an ‘iconic’ building. But the price tag was just too much.

“So we cut out all the frills.” What remains is spacious and very attractive building, with more than enough office and conference rooms for city staff and full of technological upgrades – but not over the top.

“I would say it’s just more appropriate for North Dakota than the other one was,” Stroh said.

The project’s general contractor was Olaf Anderson, the mechanical contractor was Robert Gibb & Sons and the electrical contractor was Sun Electric, the city of Fargo reports.

A grand opening celebration, with public tours within each department, will be scheduled for late October.

– Tom Dennis

Editor, Prairie Business

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