Rauenhorst built Opus into a national design-build powerhouse.

MINNEAPOLIS—Gerald Rauenhorst, founder and chairman of the Opus Group, died April 24 at age 86. Services will be held at Our Lady of Grace in Edina, MN on May 6. Memorials are preferred to the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business, Marquette University’s College of Engineering Opus Scholars program, the Mayo Clinic’s Center on Aging or a charity of the donor’s choice.

The 25-year-old Rauenhorst started his construction business in 1953, operating for the first four years from his family’s 960-square-foot home in the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, MN. By 1960, Rauenhorst Construction Co. had established itself in the Twin Cities market; by 1965, it had launched what would be its first business park development, Normandale Center Industrial Park in Edina, MN, and changed its name to Rauenhorst Corp.

As of the late 1970s, it had branched out into a regional developer. A second name change, to Opus Corp., would follow in 1982, with Rauenhorst driving the company’s long-term growth.

Through four decades and at least as many downturns, Rauenhorst guided Opus’ evolution into an industry-leading, nationwide design/build and real estate concern. By the time Rauenhorst retired as chairman in 2000—he remained on the Opus board—the company had completed about 1,800 commercial projects in more than 35 states.

A 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award citation from the Design Build Institute of America noted that Rauenhorst had been “a pillar of the design-build community for more than 50 years… Practicing what he preached, Gerry expanded Opus into what he described as ‘a totally integrated firm encompassing in-house design talent, engineering expertise and construction professionals who could shepherd each project from concept to completion.’”

Similarly, in naming Rauenhorst to the Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame in 2010, the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business observed that Opus “revolutionized the building industry by being one of the first firms to unite the disparate worlds of architecture and construction into a team.”

Rauenhorst was preceded in death by his wife Henrietta Schmoll Rauenhorst. He is survived by his seven children, 21 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.