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The original name of Renaissance Square was the Andrus Building, in honor of New Yorker John Emory Andrus, who financed its construction and was one of the richest men in the world. It was renamed in 1983 when it was renovated by architects Miller, Hanson, Westerbeck and Bell, and the big arches and thick columns on the lower two floors were added.
The busy brick exterior of the upper floors is not structural; the building is held up by a hidden steel frame. Stylistically, Renaissance Square is a mixture. It’s mostly Neoclassical – in other words, the forms are based on the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. But the gigantic pilasters – those columns that appear to have been squashed flat against the walls — and the grouped windows between the pilasters — show the influence of architect Louis Sullivan who wrote that the tallness of a tall building should be emphasized by long vertical lines.
In keeping with the tradition of Greek architecture, Renaissance Square has a clearly defined base (the first two floors), a mid-section, and a decorative cornice at the top. Just below the cornice on the corner, two volutes (scroll-like elements sometimes called “ears”) are sandwiched together and turned out at a 45-degree angle.
The architects, Franklin Long, and his son, Louis, also designed the Radisson Hotel on 7th Street between Nicollet and Hennepin and the Plymouth Building on 6th and Hennepin. Previously the elder Franklin had partnered with Frederick Kees to design many buildings in Minneapolis, including City Hall.