I have had a lifelong fascination with architecture — and tall buildings specifically. I would fill spiral-bound notebooks with fantastic floor plans of my dream homes, completely devoid of common-sense, load-bearing laws or feng shui rules. But I was only 7.
Maybe it was when I climbed a ladder at age 3 to join my dad who was shingling our house (scared the parents pretty good). Or perhaps it was watching King Kong scale the World Trade Center in the 1976 movie. Or maybe it was just seeing pictures of tall buildings in encyclopedias. But at some point, my fascination turned to self-education.
One of the buildings I had wanted to see in person, as a child, was the tallest building in Minnesota — the IDS Center, 792 feet high. It was built in 1972 and was originally 775 feet tall, but a window-cleaning garage was added its top in the late 1970s. I recall taking a family vacation to Minneapolis at that time, peering curiously at the mammoth structures as we got closer and closer. Then finally driving right next to the towers, staring straight into the sky to see the tops. It made me woozy.
We took the ear-popping elevator to the IDS’s observation deck, which has since closed after I checked last month. I could see the horizon for 20 or 30 miles from this view, looking down on the shorter buildings and even seeing ant-like people walking around the sidewalks. Amazing.
This experience inspired me to read more about other buildings around the country, then around the world. I later visited the 1,250-foot Empire State Building and 1,368-foot World Trade Center 1 in New York City, the 1,815-foot CN Tower in Toronto and the 1,450-foot Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago. I hope to see the world’s tallest building someday, the new 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai. At more than a half-mile high, it is a dizzying 12 times taller than Fargo’s current tallest building (Radisson, 206 feet, 8 inches).
Recently, I’ve thought more about the buildings in my hometown of Fargo-Moorhead. We will soon be witness to a new tallest building in the middle of Fargo, which will actually become the new tallest building in the state. The Kilbourne Group’s Block 9 Tower is projected to rise to 250 feet, 8 feet higher than the current state Capitol Building in Bismarck.
Following are the tallest buildings in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo:
• 1. Block 9 Tower (Proposed height: 250-252 feet; Proposed by Kilbourne Group in 2013; Construction to begin this fall, to be completed 2019; 18.5 floors). Would become the tallest building in North Dakota, 8 feet taller than the State Capitol Building in Bismarck.
• 2. Radisson Hotel (206 feet, 8 inches; built 1985, 18 floors).
• 3. Herschel Lashkowitz High Rise (203 feet, 4 inches; built 1970, 22 floors).
• 4. Sanford Medical Center (199 feet, 8 inches; built 2012 (To be completed this year), 11 floors).
• 5. Cathedral of St. Mary (170 feet, 3 inches; built 1899).
•6. First Lutheran Church (167 feet, 4 inches; built 1920).
• 7. Fargodome (125 feet; built 1992).
• 8. New Horizons Manor (122 feet, 2 inches; built 1973, 10 floors).
• 9. Bank of the West tower (119 feet, built 1973, 10 floors).
• 10. Twin Towers (110 feet, built 1978, 9 floors).
• 11. Pavek Hall at North Dakota State University (110 feet; built 1987, 9 floors).
• 12. Seim Hall at NDSU (110 feet; built 1973, 9 floors).
• 13. Sevrinson Hall at NDSU (110 feet; built 1967, 9 floors).
• 14. Thompson Hall at NDSU (110 feet; built 1967, 9 floors).
•1 5. Bethany Towers II (110 feets; built 1979, 9 floors).
• 16. Black Building (108 feet; Built 1931, 9 floors) Tallest building in North Dakota from 1931 to 1934 when the new Capitol building was completed at 242 feet high, which currently remains the tallest in the state. The spire-topped churches and cathedrals do not count, since they generally have a single working level above ground.
• 1. Riverview Heights Apartments (Height: 169 feet, 1 inch; built 1968; 14 floors).
• 2. Nelson Hall at Minnesota State University Moorhead (145 feet; built 1966, 12 floors).
• 3. Park View Terrace (96 feet, 7 inches; 8 floors).
• 4. One Riverside (72 feet, 6 inches; built in 1978; 6 floors).
• 5. U.S. Bank Building (72 feet; built 1950; 7 floors).
• 6. Clay County Service Center (60 feet, 5 inches; 5 floors).
• 7. Moorhead Center Mall Building (60 feet, 5 inches; built in 1973; 5 floors).
Incidentally, MSUM’s John Neumaier Hall, which was built between the years 1969-70, was Moorhead’s second-tallest building until its implosion in August 1999. It was determined to be structurally unsafe, as the foundation was not holding stable. It was 163 feet, 6 inches tall, and was 15 stories high, rising three floors above the neighboring cylindrical Nelson Hall.
• 1. West Fargo High Rise (Height: 85 feet, 4 inches; built 1968; 7 floors).