Breathing New Life into Fargo’s Loretta Building

The new design of a run-down, underutilized building in the heart of Fargo, North Dakota leverages its historic value to rekindle interest in downtown Fargo.

The designers of the Loretta Building, above, was in dire need of renovations when JLG Architects set out to modernize the building. One of the ways they did just this was with Marvin Ultimate Awning Windows, to let the air in, while keeping light rain out.

Courtesy Marvin Windows and Doors © Paul Crosby


​The Loretta Building was once a downtrodden, underutilized space in the heart of Fargo, North Dakota. The building, which originally opened as a furniture store 100 years ago, was poorly maintained and practically empty— it housed only one business and six employees. It did, however, have a prime location in a commercial area and plenty of potential. Realizing this, JLG Architects set out to modernize the building while leveraging its historic value, ensuring the new space would keep its distinctive Fargoan character.

Now, after intensive intervention, The Loretta stands as a charming yet modern commercial center catering to nineteen businesses—including a restaurant, a clothing retailer, and an art gallery.

“The ‘bones’ of this historic building were intact,” says Lee Dobrinz from JLG. “However, the building required revitalization and refurbishment to meet its new program and use.”

The new design completely overhauled the main retail level; glass separates store areas while creating a visual connection between them. The airy interior is ingeniously finished with the original brickwork, new zinc wall panels, and Kasota stone, while a ground level hallway organizes the space throughout the stores and connects to a lower level patio.

To maximize natural light in every floor, a skylight runs through the core of the building, inspired by an original ceiling treatment still present in the new Loretta.

Courtesy Marvin Windows and Doors © Paul Crosby


​To equip the Loretta for Fargo’s unique weather, thermal performance and air filtration were a priority. The architects strategized around energy-efficiency, eventually choosing Marvin Windows and Doors to update the building’s face to the outside. “We studied options for repair and refurbishment versus new windows,” he explains, “Marvin’s Magnum Series double-hung windows allowed us to closely match the original historic character of the building while also responding to the realities of our harsh northern climate.”

The building features Marvin Ultimate Swinging French Doors and Direct Glaze Round Top windows to compliment the historic design of the structure.

Courtesy Marvin Windows and Doors © Paul Crosby


​On the upper levels, the office spaces are equipped with modular walls that allow tenants to easily reconfigure the layout to suit their needs. Strategies like these were essential to ensuring the design would remain dynamic over time.

On the newly added 4th floor, the design team used Marvin Bi-Fold doors to connect a handsomely furnished main conference room to an outdoor patio. This gives the room visual access to Fargo’s dramatic winter landscape and provides a pleasant outdoor space during the warmer months. Marvin Ultimate Awning windows allow for air circulation, even on rainy days.

By providing fully equipped retail spaces, which the area desperately needed, the density and flow in the neighborhood has improved. Since it has been given new life, the Loretta Building has also rekindled interest in downtown Fargo. Overall, the building stands as a case study in how to breathe new life into historic spaces, bringing in modern materials and energy-efficient strategies into long-standing landmarks.

See more details of the project at Marvin Windows and Doors.

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