Posts tagged with "Minneapolis":

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Against all odds, progressive land-use reforms are taking root in American cities

With Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles moving forward with progressive land-use and transportation reforms last week, much of the conventional thinking behind how American cities work could soon be upended.  As the converging threats of climate change, housing unaffordability, and pollution continue to hamstring the country’s urban areas, cities across the country are taking matters into their own hands by enacting bold but common-sense reforms in the face of federal and state inaction. For one, a groundbreaking comprehensive plan update in Minneapolis that would eliminate the city’s single-family zones took a step forward last week after two years of public debate and negotiations. The so-called 2040 Minneapolis Plan would make the city the first in the country to upzone all of its single-family residential neighborhoods to allow up to three dwelling units per lot. Under the 2040 initiative, the city will be able to re-establish a tradition of building what’s known as “missing middle” housing, the types of naturally affordable small- to medium-scale neighborhoods that make up the backbones of most American cities built before the 1950s. The plan is designed to break down racial and income disparities between neighborhoods in the city while allowing Minneapolis to absorb expected job and population growth over coming decades. Housing activists across the country are now looking to Minneapolis to see how the experiment plays out as efforts to enact similar policies pick up across the country, especially in Seattle, where a similar effort is gaining steam. In Oregon, a plan to eradicate single-family zoning in cities with 10,000 or more residents took a step forward this week. Aside from taking on exclusionary zoning, other cities, including Buffalo, San Francisco, and San Diego, are looking to eliminate off-street parking requirements to varying extents as they work to reclaim the enormous amount of space taken up by parked cars. In 2017, Buffalo became the first municipality in the country to totally eliminate parking requirements city-wide. The effort comes as part of a new zoning initiative that will bring what is known as a “form-based code” (FBC) to the city. As the name implies, FBCs typically regulate the overall geometries of urban areas by setting particular height limits, setbacks, and other design guidelines that can be followed regardless of use. The approach runs counter to more common use-based codes that carve cities up into monofunctional areas with residential, industrial, and commercial districts. FBCs are seen both as a way of re-establishing mixed-use neighborhoods while also creating contextual and preservation-friendly zones. With the update, Buffalo joins Denver, Las Vegas, and Miami, which have also recently enacted FBCs. Over in California, as the state’s new legislature takes up a series of bold housing reforms, San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer is one step ahead with a proposal to scrap parking requirements for transit-adjacent areas. A new proposal would eliminate required parking for housing located within 1/2-mile from a transit stop, a change similar to a state-wide effort that was derailed last year. The latest effort, according to the mayor, will be geared toward lowering the cost of building housing—a single parking stall adds between $35,000 and $90,000 in costs per unit of housing in the state—while also resulting in shorter and less bulky buildings. San Francisco has taken the proposal one step further by moving to become the largest city in the country to scrap parking requirements outright. City Supervisor Jane Kim put forward a measure this month to totally eliminate the requirement city-wide in an effort to bolster the city’s climate bona fides and help reign in housing costs. But don’t call it a “parking ban,” developers will instead be allowed to build parking up to a maximum threshold if they deem it necessary. The yet-to-be-approved initiative could go into effect next year. Nearby, Sacramento is working to enact a city-wide transit-oriented development plan that would limit drive-through restaurants and gas stations and lower parking requirements within 1/2-mile from transit stops in the city. Change is afoot even in car-loving Los Angeles, where an ambitious but currently under-funded plan to build 28 large scale transit projects by the 2028 Olympic games has prompted local officials to consider so-called “congestion pricing.” No official plan has been unveiled, but the Los Angeles Metro CEO Phil Washington last week presented several ideas that could potentially fill the funding gap, including requiring drivers to pay for traveling in some of the city’s most congested areas. To boot, Curbed reported that during a presentation to the Metro Board of Directors, Washington even proposed using the fees generated from congestion pricing to make Los Angeles the first city in the United States to offer free public transportation every day of the year.
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Architecture Office splashes a nonprofit Minneapolis restaurant in neon

Syracuse-based Architecture Office has completed a brightly-colored LED-lit restaurant in Minneapolis for the nonprofit All Square, a fancy grilled cheese restaurant–cum–civil rights social enterprise. All Square’s mission is both to end recidivism and help the formerly incarcerated move on with their lives. For the design of All Square—the name references both the sandwiches themselves and individuals who have completed prison sentences–Architecture Office took an open, airy approach. The 900-square-foot space is without dividing walls and was designed around a square motif. “Our goal was to give All Square’s mission a physical presence by inserting a few everyday elements, such as metal frames, mirrors, and neon lighting, alongside the existing materials in the space,” said Architecture Office founding partners Jonathan Louie and Nicole McIntosh in a press release. “These things work to partition, frame, and unify the interactions and encounters between people in the restaurant.” The color palette is a straightforward mix of whites, black, and gray, with a simple material palette that uses metal, wood, and mirrors to make the restaurant seem larger than it really is. The mirrors also, much like this summer’s Young Architects Program installation, frame patrons in unnatural ways and create new, previously impossible vantage points of the space. All Square’s defining feature, the bright neon-colored lights installed in square frames throughout, shines at night. Once switched on, the restaurant is bathed in pink, blue, and yellow lights that both add a pop of color to the space as well as an identity to each programmatic area. All Square had its grand opening on September 8 and can be found at 4047 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis.
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SHoP Architects set to design Minneapolis's riverfront performing arts center

Minneapolis will be getting an elevated amphitheater on the banks of the Mississippi River courtesy of New York’s SHoP Architects. The firm was chosen by Minneapolis music institution First Avenue Productions to design the new Upper Harbor Terminal Community Performing Arts Center (CPAC); a combination park-performing arts center-event venue. CPAC will create a new 2.3-acre public park on the waterfront on city-owned land that will double as a performing arts space. SHoP’s “Gantry,” a multi-story metal seating structure, will float most of the venue’s 6,000 seats above ground level and free the park up for public use when not scheduled for events. The stage, segmented into its own separate building, can also be enclosed during inclement weather for smaller performances. The Gantry leaves its structural elements exposed, and the catwalk-like design is a callback to the waterfront’s industrial past—a past that, from renderings, will be heavily referenced in the new park’s design. CPAC will seat up to 10,000 visitors, with room for 4,000 standing attendees, and 10 private boxes. “Minneapolis and First Avenue have a long history of creative transformation, and a rich legacy of music and culture,” said founding partner of SHoP Architects Gregg Pasquarelli. “We are thrilled to be working together to expand upon this tradition. In designing the UHT CPAC, we were inspired by what makes First Avenue one of the country’s most intimate and special music venues, focusing on the idea of creating an inclusive venue where everyone feels like a VIP, while also allowing for a larger, open park and green space open year-round for the North Minneapolis and surrounding communities to enjoy.” The renderings released last Wednesday were the public’s first look at plans for the north Minneapolis site, of which CPAC is just a small part. If the plan is approved by the City Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the 50-acre Upper Harbor development would bring residential and office buildings to the waterfront as well. Construction on the project’s first phase, including CPAC, could begin in 2020 depending on how fast the development clears the approvals process. In the meantime, developers United Properties, Thor Companies, and First Avenue will be soliciting public feedback on their current scheme.
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Printed metal panels clad new healthcare facility in Minneapolis

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Reorganizing nearly two million square feet to offer centralized and accessible care for people who need convenient access to a doctor, same-day surgery, or cancer treatment, Hennepin County Medical Center’s latest project is a new six-story building that consolidates over 40 primary and specialty clinics currently spread across nine buildings. The healthcare project, led by local architect BWBR, has resulted in Minneapolis/Saint Paul’s largest teaching hospital. The project prominently features corrosion-resistant metal panel cladding printed with a “corten” patterning.
  • Facade Manufacturer McGrath, Pure + FreeForm (provided finished flat sheets only)
  • Architects BWBR
  • Facade Installer McGrath
  • Facade Consultants Ericksen Roed & Associates (Structural), Dunham Associates (MEP/Energy)
  • Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System aluminum panels
  • Products Pure + Freeform Lumiflon (FEVE) off-set graveur direct paint system, AMA 2605 rated, Class A finish on 2mm thick Aluminum in custom finishes
BWBR’s design team said they worked closely with Pure + FreeForm from schematic design through construction administration to ensure the custom finish met aesthetic and budgetary criteria. “The early and constant collaboration was, in fact, what allowed BWBR to comfortably select and realistically defend a more radical solution to represent the character of the client and their facility.” The design team started out by creating a high-resolution mapping of rust steel and wood grains and manipulated them digitally to be suitable for an application massive in scale. The specific coloration, toning, and detailing of the imagery was finalized through an extensive process requiring several rounds of physical samples and on-site reviews. The collaborative design and manufacturing process allowed BWBR to control precisely the pattern and color that eventually was realized on the facade. Pure + FreeForm said the scale of the patterning and reflectivity of the samples played a role in final selections. “This process included examining the various conditions of natural light on the surface of the panels and how each condition would affect the perceived color, texture, or pattern. There is also a custom wood grain finish, for which we played with scale so that the pattern would be visible from the user’s point of view. By the end of our design process, we had completed five rounds of proofs and matching to arrive at the final design.”
The panels were “printed” using a Lumiflon ink, allowing for bright orange and red tones in the final finishes while offering corrosion-resistance, which would not be possible with other fluoropolymers. The refining of the panel configuration was a process of designer-contractor collaboration, which Pure + FreeForm’s custom finishes enabled: to blend patterns on a larger area in a way that was not visually repetitive. The team was able to downsize the metal panel to an economical dimension without sacrificing the perceived large pattern on the facade. This was achieved by combining three narrower panels with butt-joints and using the custom pattern to disguise the seam in between. Originally, the system was conceived as 3-millimeter plate panels, but moved to 2-millimeter flush panels, which more appropriately suited the budget. By varying the widths and locations of the panel joints, the team was able to create the appearance of larger panels. The 2-millimeter flush panels were attached to the building structure using #14 TEK 3 Long Life coated exterior fasteners. Coordination with the glazing manufacturer was required for the areas requiring flashing. There were two fabrication challenges, for which McGrath worked extensively with BWBR in the preconstruction and construction phases. First was the actual forming of the flush panels and creating the female pocket in 2-millimeter gauge. The second challenge was the panel layout and alignment with windows, in which BWBR required a layout for the panel reveals to align with the windows throughout. This meant panel sizes had to be carefully coordinated, adjusted both in fabrication design and in the field. The miscellaneous trims in the building did not use custom patterning, but rather a solid paint to match. This was achieved by working closely with McGrath and Mortenson to ensure the solid lines were not distracting from the primary jointing pattern and panel finishes.
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David Chipperfield to create master plan for Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) has announced that it has hired London-based David Chipperfield Architects to create a master plan for the future of the museum. The long-term project is aimed at expanding “the community’s access to the museum as a community resource.” The need for a master plan was brought on by the museum's growing attendance and collection. Chipperfield’s office will take on expanding art storage and public gathering spaces, as well as improving parking facilities. The interior of the museum will also be affected by a reassessment of the visitor circulation and an update to the museum's restaurant and auditorium. “We are thrilled to work with David Chipperfield,” said museum director and president Kaywin Feldman in a press release. “Mia has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with repeated record-setting visitor numbers. Our growing collections, innovative exhibitions, and accessible public programs have fueled this growth, and we want to ensure we have the facilities needed to provide inspiring visitor experiences as we embrace an ever-broadening, diverse audience.” Mia’s collection spans 5,000 years and over 89,000 works. The museum was established in 1883 in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is one of the largest fine arts museums in the United States. As a government-funded public museum, no admission is charged for entry, except for special exhibitions. The selection of David Chipperfield Architects comes on the heels of a handful of other major museum project announcements in North America, including the St. Louis Art Museum, the master plan for the Menil Collection in Houston, Museo Jumex in Mexico City, and the Anchorage Museum in Alaska.
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Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to reopen after major renovation

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, part of the Walker Art Center campus, is set to reopen after the completion of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reconstruction Project. Opened nearly 30 years ago, the garden was one of the first such major sculpture parks in the United States, attracting over nine million visitors in that time. When reopened, visitors will be able to see 18 new art pieces, along with the 42 pieces that were already on display before the renovation. Six new pieces were commissioned specifically for the garden. The commissioned artists include Nairy Baghramian, Frank Big Bear, Theaster Gates, Mark Manders, Philippe Parreno, and Aaron Spangler. Additional works were collected from local and international artists, including Katharine Fritsch, Robert Indiana, Sol LeWitt, and Eva Rothschild. The crowd favorite Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen will also once again be on prominent display. The design of the 19-acre garden and Walker grounds has been carried out over the years by a number of renowned landscape designers including Edward Larrabee Barnes, Peter Rothschild, Michael Van Valkenburgh, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, Tom Oslund, and Julie Snow. The renovations included the reconstruction of the garden’s infrastructure to make the park more sustainable and improve the parks water management. The $10 million project includes a completely new stormwater management system which includes an 80,000-gallon underground cistern. The new system allows for all rain that falls on the site to be captured and reused for irrigation. The garden's north end features a new native plant meadow and 300 new trees have been planted across the site, all adding to the gardens ecological design. The Walker Art Center also added a green roof over its main entrance and an additional green streetscape. The reopening will be marked by a number of festivities, including a full day of opening ceremonies on June 3rd. The Walker Art Center will also provide free gallery admission form June 1-June 10 in honor of the gardens reopening.
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Walker Art Center exhibit brilliantly questions traditional ideas about interiors

It may be no coincidence that the Walker Art Center, in conjunction with the unveiling of its new streamlined main entrance and lobby, has also opened a new exhibition of highly conceptual, intellectually exhilarating work that is oftentimes, concurrently, as bewildering as the welcoming new foyer is transparent. Question the Wall Itself—from its title to the show’s most architectural work—graciously invites interrogation.

They are installations in which traditional ideas of space, interiors, exterior structure, and the decorative are literally turned inside out, upside down, and sliced open, reassembled, or punctured. None accomplishes this more pointedly, perhaps, than Jonathan de Andrade’s Nostalgia, sentimiento de classe (Nostalgia, a class sentiment).

Andrade’s installation gets its own room, on which the white walls are printed with texts on “tropical modernism” by mid-20th-century Brazilian architecture writers Marcos Vasconcellos and Flavio de Carvalho, but with significant words replaced with red, blue, black, and yellow fiberglass shapes (blocks, triangles, rectangles). Resting on the floor is a framed photo of a 1960s entryway, which inspired the shapes, from a house in the artist’s home city of Recife. (Note the parrot in the photograph; more on that soon).

The overall effect of Andrade’s work is Mondrian-like, conjuring fantasies of a Lego party attended by mid-century design thinkers. But the installation—with its layering of references to the public and private, political and cultural, material and verbal—also points to how the exhibition as a whole examines, through a wide range of cultural frames, how interior spaces reflect ideas of identity.

Curated by Fionn Meade, the Walker Art Center artistic director, the show includes—in addition to installations—sculpture, video, photography, and other multimedia works by 23 artists from around the globe. Reflection, not coincidentally, is a recurring theme throughout the exhibition, as mirrors abound. So do parrots.

The birds, signifiers of repetition and mimicry, first appear in Marcel Broodthaers’ Dites partout que je l’ai dit (Say Everywhere I Said So), an installation that encompasses a drawing of a parrot from a bird species index, a taxidermied parrot inside a bell jar, a box splashed with paint and a taped recording of Broodthaer repeating lines from his poetry.

Broodthaer’s concept of “esprit décor” guided the exhibition’s curation, Meade explained. He described it as a critique of ideas about internationalism, national identity, globalization, and institutional space—all through the lens of how interior space is constructed. The most shocking manifestation of which is Rosemarie Trockel’s As far as possible.

Occupying its own room—its antiseptic white-tiled walls conjure chilling sensations of a hospital cleanroom or testing laboratory—Trockel’s installation includes taxidermied, mechanized songbirds and a bell under a bell jar (representation and mimesis, anyone?) in a white metal cage, an upside-down palm tree, a sculptural mass that might be a urinal and a print of Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde over which the artist strategically placed an image of a tarantula.

Forget “Bathroom of the Day” on Houzz; Trockel’s installation is straight out of an indie science-fiction/horror film, while its props and decor—worthy of a stage or set design—summon Freud’s psychological concept of “the uncanny.” Theaster Gates’s A Maimed King also uses an array of objects, but to summon emotional resonance with political and cultural consequences.

His installation has an office chair facing a battered aluminum bulletin board framing a crumpled, torn image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (salvaged from a condemned school in Chicago). On either side are blackboard-like sculptures, one called House Nation Wall and the other Founder’s Plaque, which suggest a rebuilding of a musical, educational, and cultural world that values inclusivity; institutions that still need to be built.

Similarly, such structures have yet to be constructed in the Arab world, argues Walid Raad in his 11-panel installation Letters to the Reader. Placed like dominoes in a graceful arc, each eight-by-four-foot painted panel features a thin cutout (some of which resemble fragments of an ornate picture frame) above a trompe l’oeil parquet or wood floor. Each panel also represents a fragment of a wall from a fictitious art gallery in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, calling into question issues of the place and prospect of Arab art in traditional Western contexts.

Lucy McKenzie’s Loos House is also a shadow structure of sorts. McKenzie’s installation deploys trompe l’oeil painting techniques to render her brusque not-to-scale layout of the Austrian architect’s 1930 Villa Müller (hers is an unfaithful copy, full of voids) in the cipollino green marble of the home’s salon, inverting the interior and exterior, public and private spaces. In her accompanying work, Fascist Bathroom, McKenzie similarly transposes the most private and intimate by enclosing oil-on-paper paintings of an opulent lavatory in a white-walled box.

Tom Burr’s Zog (a series of setbacks) brings the interrogation home, quite literally, with a sculpture that questions the corner offices of the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis, a landmark skyscraper designed by Philip Johnson. One side of the work (the public side?) is comprised of 12 glass-fronted “zogs” that reflect the observer. On the inside are stainless-steel panels printed with Burr’s photos of Philip Johnson’s Glass House: imagistic fragments in which Burr is often reflected.

Repetition and reflection; homage and critique; mimicry and mimesis; staging and sets; fragments and shadows: Question the Wall Itself was curated over a period of several years, yet is strangely of its time. At a time when fascism, seemingly in the guise of nationalism, is rearing its hydra-head around the globe, and fears of exclusivity rise as elitism cloaks itself in populism, and lies are allowed to masquerade as truth, the fractured architectural narratives of the exhibition are poignantly resonant. Question everything, seems to be the message, not just the wall.

Question the Wall Itself Walker Art Center 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis Through May 21, 2017

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Explore culture and identity through interior design and décor at the Walker Art Center's latest exhibit

The Walker Art Center has brought together 23 international and multigenerational artists in its latest exhibition Question the Wall Itself. The show explores cultural belonging and identity through interior spaces and décor. The show is curated by Fionn Meade with Jordan Carter, and shown in the Target, Friedman, and Burnet galleries.

The exhibition includes sculptures, installations, films, videos, photographs, performances, and site-responsive works, presented as a series of rooms. From the prison cell to living room, and the library to the interior garden, many artists drew on their personal, social, and cultural backgrounds to produce works for the show.

An accompanying publication will include new writings and visual essays by participating artists, as well as an extensive photographic walkthrough of the installations with essays by curators Fionn Meade and Jordan Carter, as well as visual arts curator Adrienne Edwards, Walker Art Center’s Bentson Scholar of Moving Image Isla Leaver-Yap, and art historian Robert Wiesenberger.

Question the Wall Itself Walker Art Center 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis November 20, 2016 through May 21, 2017

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Initial plans emerge for former Ford assembly plant in St. Paul, Minnesota

A vision for Ford Motor Company’s former Twin Cities Assembly Plant is beginning to materialize as the City of St. Paul has recently unveiled initial studies for the site. While discussion around the site has been underway for nearly 10 years, it seems that the project is poised to start moving in earnest. In a public meeting, the city outlined what the future may hold for what they are calling "Ford Site: A 21st Century Community." The 135 acres of land along the Mississippi River in the Highland community was an assembly plant from 1925 through 2011. Now the plan is to build a mixed-use development which will focus on and interconnected system of streets, bikeways, and walkways. Ford-and-CP-Properties-Map The information presented by the city included a rough timeline of the development, outlines of economic and environmental impact, and a plan for the streets and park space on the site. Much of the information was gathered and assembled during the course of a dozen public meetings and presentation that have happened over the last two years. One of the largest concerns surrounding the Twin Cities Assembly Plant project has been the likely increase in traffic in the area. The city has assured skeptics that new dedicated transit and improved space for alternative transportation would be provided on the site. Though the city is playing a large role in communicating information to the public, St. Paul does not own the site. It is still owned by Ford, who plan to market and sell the land for development. Ford, working with the city, is currently running studies on the site and planning remediation. It is expected that Ford will actively start the search for buyers in 2017. The presented timeline puts developer engagement in 2020, with the physical project beginning in 2021. While no designs have been released, the city has stated that the development would “reflect the heritage of the Ford plant and its employees.” The city has also stated that there will be a mix of tradition and “modern” building forms and materials in the development.
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Largest mass timber building in U.S. opens tomorrow in Minneapolis

The seven-story, 220,000-square-foot T3 office building in Minneapolis’s North Loop district will become the tallest modern wood building in the U.S. when it opens tomorrow. Designed by Michael Green Architecture and the DLR Group, the T3—which stands for Timber, Technology, Transit—features nail-laminated timber (NLT) clad in weathering steel. While the building resembles the nearby historic warehouses in the district, its efficient structural system is about one-fifth the weight of a similarly sized concrete building, according to StructureCraft, which worked on the project. Leaving the interiors bare also eliminated costly coverings. StructureCraft fabricated T3's NLT panels in nearby Winnipeg, Manitoba, and was able to build 180,000 square feet of timber framing in less than 10 weeks. Typically, the estimated time of construction in a timber building is an average of nine days per floor. The NLT panels were combined with a spruce glulam post-and-beam frame and a concrete slab. Most of the wood used came from the Pacific Northwest region, sustainably harvested after being killed by the mountain pine beetle, and all of the wood was certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Guidelines. The result is a simple massing with an airy brightness, thanks to the exposed wood. “This will have the ambiance of the old warehouses with timber beams that everyone wants, but solves all the problems of energy efficiency and light,” real estate firm Hines director Bob Pfefferle told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Timber frame construction has been praised as an environmentally responsible choice. In addition to being made from sustainable lumber, which is less energy-intensive to extract, the building will sequester about 3,200 tons of carbon. However, mass timber construction has been slow to take off—T3, for example, was supposed to break ground back in November 2015. Thankfully, a slew of timber-framed buildings is set to open in the next year—perhaps ushering in a new era of downtown towers.
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Tiny HGA-designed cabins win American Architectural Award

Minneapolis-based HGA has been award the 2016 American Architectural Award for series of small “houses in the trees.” Built as part of the Dakota County Parks’ 450-acre master plan, the Whitetail Woods Camper Cabins hover above the forest floor on concrete piers. The American Architectural Award is sponsored by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and urban Studies. The award, which will be presented on to HGA on October 3rd at a reception in Chicago, has been set up to promote American architecture to a global audience. Each cozy three-bed cabin is entered by a small hillside foot bridge. The 227-square-foot cedar-clad interior features two full-size beds, one sleeper sofa, and a dining and sitting area. In each cabin, sliding glass doors lead out to an 80-square-foot deck for viewing nature from inside, or out. "The recreational cabins were envisioned to be unique, integrated with the wooded site, sustainable, economically affordable, and restorative for overnight guests through interaction with nature," explained Steven Dwyer, Senior Project Designer at HGA. Along with their light touch on the forest floor, the compact cabins reduce their ecological footprint through simple sustainable design details. Natural ventilation and ceiling fans cool the cabins in the summer, while high R-value insulation helps keep them warm in the winter. By sharing restrooms and showers with the park, water consumption and waste management are also kept to a minimum. Sustainably harvested wood and non-petroleum-based finishes are used throughout the project as well. The cabins were among 74 projects chosen from a field of 380 for the award. The cabins have previously been awarded an AIA Housing Award, an AIA Minnesota Honor Award, and a Wood Design & Building Award.
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Brutalist library by Ralph Rapson to be saved and renovated in Minneapolis

Another brutalist building is being saved, this time in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the library staff of Hennepin County has recommended that the jurisdiction’s Southeast library, a 1963 building designed by Ralph Rapson in the brutalist style, be renovated rather than replaced. The work is scheduled for completion by spring of 2019. The building at 1222 4th Street SE opened as the home of a credit union and was converted in 1967 to a library branch, making in an early adaptive reuse of a Brutalist building. According to the Star Tribune, the recommendation to save and modernize the building came from Library Director Lois Langer Thompson and still must be approved by the Hennepin County Board. The decision drew praise from County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. "We have a chance to get more space, save a historic building and get this building in shape for the 21st century," he told area residents at a recent community meeting, according to the newspaper.
The building contains about 13,000 square feet of space on a roughly half-acre site. Experts who evaluated the structure found it to be in relatively good condition but in need of underground stormwater tanks, new mechanical systems, and new skylights. One advantage to reusing the current site, officials said, is that it’s central to the library’s service area and served by mass transit. Born in Alma, Michigan, Rapson practiced architecture in Minneapolis from 1954 to 2008, when he died at 93, and for many years headed the architecture program at the University of Minnesota. As head of Ralph Rapson and Associates, he designed the Guthrie Theater, which has been demolished, the University of Minnesota’s Raring Center, and a wide range of churches and residences, including a Case Study house for Arts and Architecture magazine. Much of his work, like the Southeast library, involved exposed concrete. With the library director’s recommendation, the county must next select an architect to prepare a schematic design for the renovation. The County Board has allocated $12 million to the project. Hennepin County is responsible for decisions involving Minneapolis libraries because it absorbed the city library system in 2007. Visit here to see more of our recent coverage on the preservation of brutalist buildings, including those in Lawrence, Kansas, Reston, Virginia, and Boston.