SVL Projects - Government and Public

Minnesota State Capitol - BIM Models

Renowned architect Cass Gilbert’s Minnesota State Capitol was built in 1905. Between 2010 – 2011, a unique team of historians, architects and civic leaders gathered to decide what would be the best way to restore and preserve the capitol building.

Location

Wabasha Hill, St. Paul, MN

Consulting Engineer

HGA

General Contractor

JE Dunn Construction

Installing Contractor

Harris Company

Equipment Supplier

SVL, INC.

Background

The Minnesota State Capitol building was constructed in 1905 from a design by renowned architect Cass

Gilbert. After more than 100 years of service, the Capitol showed signs of deterioration. Portions of the exterior were crumbling, its antiquated mechanical and electrical infrastructure was failing, and its safety systems did not comply with modern standards.

A century of withstanding the harsh Minnesota environment had made portions of the roof unsafe and unserviceable. This led to water damage from the dome, causing issues with the interior finishes, even starting to fade the fantastic murals that grace the rotunda walls.

Besides its structural issues, the Capitol also presented practical problems. Legislators and government officials wanted more meeting spaces within the existing footprint. The public facilities were in dire need of upgrading, while the art and historic finishes needed to be preserved for future generations.

From 2010–2011, a team of historians, architects, and civic leaders gathered to decide the best way to restore and preserve the Capitol. Construction began in 2013 and was completed in August 2017.

Challenge

The consulting engineers had to decide how to update and integrate new mechanical systems and products while preserving the historical integrity of the building and its original architecture. The renovation team also had to complete this work while providing temporary heating, cooling, and ventilation for legislators during their session, which was required by law to be held in the House chambers.

Solution


The products for this application were chosen for their performance, aesthetics, and seamless integration features. A structure built in 1905 could not have anticipated the space considerations necessary for a modern HVAC system. Seeking to limit any aesthetic changes to Gilbert’s iconic design, the engineer’s solution was to upgrade the HVAC system by running the ducting underground.

They selected BlueDuct from AQC Industries (supplied by SVL) for its energy efficiency and the ability to maintain the original square footage without compromising the space with chases, soffits, and dropped ceilings to hide ductwork.

Result

All parties involved were satisfied with BlueDuct. The materials were delivered promptly and kept the construction schedule on pace with its ease of installation. BlueDuct also increased the indoor air quality at the Capitol, significantly reducing the allergens, pollutants and environmental factors that accumulate and infiltrate buildings with traditional ducting systems.

With little-to-no maintenance needed, BlueDuct will provide reliable air delivery for the life cycle of the newly remodeled Capitol, ensuring it will continue to be a productive fixture of the Minnesota community for the next hundred years.

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                      Jim Lubratt

                      President & Chief Executive Officer

                      Jim Lubratt has been president of SVL since 2006. He first joined the company as a sales engineer in 1992 and was made a partner in 2000. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Southern Methodist University and first entered the HVAC industry as a marketing engineer for a heat pump manufacturer in Texas.

                      In addition to his role at SVL, Jim is vice president of AQC Industries, LLC, a manufacturer of specialized underground ductwork systems. He is also an investor and board member for Hydromx, Inc., a manufacturer of heat transfer nanofluids, and Crotega, Inc., creators of personal and building security solutions.

                      Jim and his wife, Tracy, met in college and married in 1993. They have three children, two of whom have graduated college in Texas, while their youngest is attending Grand Canyon University in Arizona.

                      Outside of work, Jim places a priority on his faith, family, friends, and fitness. He enjoys helping people-supporting charities, time with his wife and kids, road-biking with friends and efforts to stay physically fit.

                      A message from Jim on the achievements of SVL

                      SVL started in February 1967 by Charlie Schwab and Craig Vollhaber. Schwab-Vollhaber, Inc. (as it was named at the time) steadily grew and, in 1985, welcomed Paul Lubratt as another partner, becoming Schwab-Vollhaber-Lubratt, Inc. SVL’s founders had the determination to build the most talented, customer-focused HVAC representative in the Midwest. Our original drive and passion still shape the company and culture to this day. The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined efforts of every individual. From humble beginnings, SVL founders paved the way to industry success with hard work and determination. “Today, SVL is strongly organized with great people to lead our industry forward as we are challenged with fast-paced changes to reduce our environmental impact,” says Jim. Now, 55+ years later, SVL is under the leadership of two new principals who share the same vision and drive that has propelled SVL throughout the years. Built on a foundation of integrity, Jim Lubratt, and Charlie Vollhaber strive to ensure opportunities for personal growth, improved work environment, and shared life enrichment. The achievements of our organization are the results of the combined efforts of every individual.

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                      Charlie Vollhaber

                      Executive Vice President & Officer

                      Charlie Vollhaber is a third-generation employee at SVL, as a grandson of company co-founder Craig Vollhaber and son of former CEO Todd Vollhaber. Charlie holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Minnesota. He became an outside salesman for SVL in 2013, was made a partner in 2019, and then executive vice president and officer in 2022.

                      He grew up playing sports, including football, basketball, golf, and track, and enjoys the competitive nature of the HVAC industry. “I like that no two days are ever the same as there are always questions to answer and problems to solve,” he says. “Most of all, I enjoy working with great people and coordinating together on challenging projects to achieve positive results together.”

                      Outside of work, Charlie enjoys spending time with his wife, Lesley, and their three boys. He’s also fond of golfing, traveling, and attending concerts and sporting events. One of his favorite quotes is from the book of Philippians: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count other more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Because HVAC and construction is such a team effort, he says, “this mindset helps to create positive results in a vast majority of situations.”

                      A message from Charlie on the culture of SVL

                      “At SVL, we strive to cultivate a unique culture that revolves around finding and empowering exceptional individuals. We believe in equipping our team members with the right tools and resources to succeed.

                      As we’ve grown the business, we have deliberately maintained a small firm culture, fostering an environment where collaboration thrives. We encourage open dialogue and promote a sense of comfort among our employees, allowing anyone to ask questions and seek guidance from anyone else, regardless of their level within the organization.

                      We foster a workshop-like atmosphere where everyone’s contribution is valued. Presenting your work to another individual or a group of teammates provides a platform for collaboration, where ideas are shared, dissected, and improved collectively. We firmly believe in the power of mentoring and provide various avenues for both formal and informal guidance. Whether it’s through structured training programs or casual conversations, we encourage team members to discuss a wide range of topics, from work-related successes or issues to everyday personal life topics.

                      In summary, our culture is built on the foundation of attracting exceptional individuals, empowering them with the necessary tools, and fostering a collaborative environment where mentorship and growth thrive. We are committed to creating an atmosphere where every team member feels supported, valued, and encouraged to reach their fullest potential.”

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                      Al Gramse

                      Vice President of SVL Service Corporation

                      Al Gramse has been in the HVAC industry for over 30 years. He began as a service technician.  Then over his career worked in technical support, building automation, then service manager prior to his current role.

                      How did Al end up in the HVAC industry?  “After high school, I took a couple years to figure out what I wanted to do.   Where I was working at the time, a grumpy old coworker, who I didn’t get along with, walked up to me and said ‘What are you doing here?  Go back to school.’”  I said, “For what?”  He said “There’s a tech school down the street.  Go down there and pick something that interests you”. Then he walked away.  That weird interaction, with someone I didn’t get along with, sent me down a 30-year path in the HVAC industry.   Never underestimate the potential of a little encouragement.   Even if it is from a strange source.

                      Al has been with SVL for 15 years and is the head of our SVL Service division. “The people here are some of the best in the industry,” Al says. “A bunch of team-oriented, knowledgeable, go-getters.” His personal mantra is “figure it out,” “Do a little fact-finding on your own. Use your own brain before you use someone else’s. But know when to ask for help.” he prescribes. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish on your own if you dig in a little bit.”

                      Outside of work, Al has lots of outdoor hobbies, including hunting, fishing, and motorcycling, though his favorite pastime is simply hanging out with family.

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                      Jennifer Roach

                      Director of Marketing, Events & Administration

                      More than just a creative director, Jen brings 30 years of marketing and leadership magic to SVL. Her journey began in the trenches of graphic design, quickly evolving into crafting eye-catching campaigns for iconic brands like Target, Gabberts, Gander Mountain and Camping World. As a seasoned director and agency veteran, she honed her skills with recreational vehicle giant Parts Unlimited before leading creative teams at HOM Furniture and, ultimately, landing at SVL during a crucial growth phase.

                      Jen thrives on "servant-leadership," empowering her team and fostering a culture of trust and mutual respect. "It unlocks their potential, fuels creativity, and leads to work we're all proud of," she says. "I want my team to care, collaborate, and push boundaries together."

                      When not shaping impactful campaigns, Jen enjoys weekend adventures with her husband, Scott, and son, Crew. Their lives are a tapestry of shared passions, from bike rides and baking experiments to cheering on Simley High School wrestlers. And with her recently built forever home in Cottage Grove, her free time now includes a new, thrilling chapter: weekend renovation warrior!

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