With the NFL’s Super Bowl returning to Minnesota in 2018, Cuningham Group joined the Saint Paul Winter Carnival in welcoming the world with a “Super Bold” Ice Palace. This seven-story structure was the centerpiece of the Carnival’s 132nd “Coolest Celebration on Earth” and stood proudly for seventeen days, welcomed between 500,000 and 750,000 visitors and wowed the rest of the world via print, video and digital media coverage.
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The 2018 Ice Palace was a modern interpretation of past Winter Carnival palaces and rose majestically in Saint Paul’s beautiful downtown Rice Park. Surrounded by ice block battlement walls and an ice sculpture filled forest, the Palace’s six spires ranged in height from 25’ to 70’ and represented the Carnival’s monarchs, Boreas Rex – the King of Winter, Aurora – the Queen of the Snows and Boreas’ brothers – Titan, Notos, Euros and Zephyrus who ruled the Four Winds. The towers spiraled, stepped and tapered as they rose to their angled and open pinnacles. Multicolored lights streamed up from these pointed peaks extending them further into the winter sky. A balcony overlooked the Palace’s gateway from which the Carnival’s Royal Party welcomed all into their regal realm. In addition, thousands of loyal subjects sat for keepsake photographs on Boreas and Aurora’s ice thrones.
The Ice Palace was constructed with over 5,400 crystal clear, 22” wide x 44” long x 18” tall ice blocks from Green Lake near Spicer, Minnesota. Each block weighed over 500 pounds and tools and techniques dating back to the 1930’s were used to harvest them. A football field sized grid was sawn and then each block was chiseled loose and guided along an open water channel, up an antique conveyor belt and down a sloping wooden ramp to shore. The ice blocks were loaded onto 115 flat-bed semi-trucks and delivered to Saint Paul’s Rice Park.
Construction of the Ice Palace took sixteen days and 125 skilled tradesmen and women to complete. The Palace weighed approximately three million pounds and required four feet of soil to be removed down to bedrock and a 16” concrete slab poured to level and support the structure. With the help of several large construction cranes, the ice foundation’s cornerstone was laid and the Palace rose one ice block at a time. LED lighting systems were installed as soon as the Palace’s buttress walls and towers were set in place.
Watch the entire 2018 Ice Palace construction in 90 seconds.
The Palace’s beautifully festive light and sound show entertained large crowds throughout the Winter Carnival. The celebration culminated on February 10th, 2018 with the Torchlight Parade, which swirled around Rice Park. As fireworks exploded overhead, the Palace turned bright red representing the King of Summer, Vulcanus Rex’s victory over Boreas Rex and the coming of Spring.