In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits. Public Art St. Paul, a non-profit set up in 1987, provides private funding for creatives to hold City Artist in Residence positions within the city government. These artists are incorporated into city-led projects and initiatives, working with government officials, engineers, and public works officers on various capital projects, which create or renovate public buildings, public spaces, and streetscapes within St Paul. Since the enactment of a 2009 ordinance for the support of public art, St. Paul has integrated its artists even more into key planning, development, and improvement projects. Current resident city artist Marcus Young has worked directly with the Public Works Department since 2008. His public art initiatives have included Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, a successful idea to replace broken sidewalks with new sections inscribed with poetry. The City Artist in Residence program was expanded in December 2012. Young now has a team of two other artists with which he works, Amanda Lovelee, a visual artist, and Sarah West, who is focused on improving streetspaces with "architectural and large-scale public art installations." Additionally, grassroots initiatives by local artists have brought pop-up shops to retail vacancies, explored an artistic reaction to the current light rail construction, and pondered an artist’s ability to improve the ecology of the Mississippi River. Exemplifying a forward-thinking relationship, the Public Art Ordinance states: “Public art strengthens public places and enhances and promotes Saint Paul's identity as a livable and creative city and a desirable place to live, work and visit.” With a government whose attitude toward art encourages these conversations, St. Paul continues to beautify, develop, and improve its public places.
Posts tagged with "Minneapolis":
This week a city council panel voted to advance Minneapolis’ plans for a 3.4-mile streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. The Transportation and Public Works committee’s thumbs up clears the way for a full City Council vote next week. Renderings show preliminary plans for a $200 million streetcar line instead of a bus route. About $60 million of that comes from a state-approved “value capture district,” (similar to TIF funding). The rest will come from funding not yet identified, but could include a transit sales tax. Minneapolis’ move comes alongside streetcar developments in Cincinnati and in Kansas City, among other cities.
What's sure to become the ultimate tailgating accessory for Minneapolis Vikings football fans this year has hit the market at the Minnesota State Fair. Thanks to Duluth Pack, makers of bags and tents, the collapsed roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome has been reborn as a duffel and shell bag, appropriately part of the "Domer" collection. The stadium's white fabric dome collapsed in 2010 under the weight of Minneapolis' plentiful snow, the fourth time such an event has occurred. The torn remnants of the roof were put up for sale and businessmen, Jim Cunningham and Tim O’Phelan, picked up the inner of two layers of the roof on a "total whim" for $4,000, according to the Duluth News Tribune. The roof's outer layer was sold to farmers to cover their fields and a small portion went to sports fans looking for a momento. After a few years in storage, the three-acre inner layer of the Teflon-coated fiberglass covering has been cleaned and sliced into panels for the limited edition bags. Cunningham and O'Phelan approached Duluth Pack realizing the material's rugged potential. "You can’t rip it. It’s waterproof. It’s kind of like the materials Duluth Pack uses," O'Phelan told the News Tribune. If you can't make it to the Minnesota State Fair, the bags are also offered for sale online at Duluth Pack's website. Bags range in price from $160 to nearly $500. Minneapolis is currently moving forward with plans for a dramatic new Vikings stadium designed by architecture firm HKS. AN recently sat down for a Q+A with the architect working on the project, Bryan Trubey. [H/T Ballpark Digest.]
The economic hangover of suburban sprawl is well-documented in many U.S. metropolitan areas. But the cultural identity of inner-ring suburbs may too be shifting, as towns like those in Minneapolis' suburbs attempt to restore a sense of community. The Star-Tribune reports on two such towns, north suburban Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Park, that are taking a new approach to neighborhood building — call it reaching across the white-picket fence. Columbia Heights is launching a neighborhood association pilot project meant to connect longtime residents with newcomers, who live increasingly in townhouses recently built on former industrial sites in the city. Brooklyn Park, too, hired a neighborhood relations specialist to help “create neighborhoods, working with residents in a grass-roots way,” the city’s community engagement coordinator told the Star-Tribune. They point to nearby St. Louis Park as a prime example of a people-centered suburb. Suburbs across the nation are increasingly diverse and increasingly afflicted by problems thought to be the domain of inner cities, like widespread poverty and crime (note diversity and crime are inversely correlated — as an area’s percentage of foreign born residents rises, its crime tends to fall, according to the Brookings Institution). They’re even, paradoxically, increasingly urban. So it looks like whether or not the actions of Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Park pay off, the Minneapolis suburbs will look very different in 10 years either way.
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board have announced that two New York-based firms, SCAPE / Landscape Architecture and Rogers Marvel Architects, will collaborate to design Water Works Park, part of the city’s ongoing RiverFirst project. Slated for completion in early 2014, Water Works Park will be incorporated into the existing Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park above St. Anthony Falls, the only true waterfall along the Mississippi River and an important part of Minneapolis' history. The park already draws 1.6 million visitors each year, a number that officials expect to increase with the addition of the year-round, multi-use park. As part of the initial stage of the RiverFirst plan, Water Works Park will feature a series of walking and biking trails that will allow visitors access to the Mississippi as well as the adjacent neighborhoods. The plan is part of a 20-year vision to develop a 5.5-mile stretch of riverfront property in Minneapolis with an emphasis on urban ecology and mobility. SCAPE and Rogers Marvel beat out 26 other bids from the U.S. and Europe to win the project in a unanimous decision. In a press release, the selection committee highlighted the two firms' collective knowledge of the site, particularly its historical, cultural, and natural significance. SCAPE and Rogers Marvel will work alongside local planning and design teams, a factor that committee members considered when making their decision. “In our interview, it became clear that the principals of the SCAPE team work uncommonly well together, and can build a rapport with diverse partners and audiences,” they stated in the release. Schematic design for the project is scheduled to begin in August, and will include additional input from James Lima Planning + Design and SRF Consulting.
The fate of an 8,500-square-foot house designed in 1970 by architect Romaldo Giurgola in Wayzata, Minnesota hangs in the balance following what the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported as 2012's priciest single-family housing deal in the Twin Cities. Just months after paying $10 million for the lakefront property, the new owner, Cargill heir Donald C. MacMillan, has presented plans that could include the building's demolition. While considering the possibility of relocating or repurposing the modernist residence, MacMillan could choose to replace it with a new larger structure. He hopes to build a 9,095-square-foot stone and wood home and a 2,086-square-foot guest and pool house to replace the modern structure. Plans also include a lakefront 250-square-foot boathouse. The main feature of the existing home is a 24-foot cube with deliberately placed windows that capture light and views throughout the day. Quirky, curved sections unravel from the cube, spreading the living areas out into the lush backyard. The original owners had asked Giurgola, “a next generation architect,” to create a dramatic backdrop for their large art collection.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] We liked Minneapolis—it ended our sojourn in the wilderness of South Dakota, we saw some nice things, met a lot of cool people and the biking there is great! On our journey plan we had highlighted the fact that the city was host to a bevy of starchitects—Herzog and de Meuron with the 2005 Walker Art Gallery extension, Jean Nouvel with the Guthrie Theater of 2006, and Frank Gehry at the Weisman Museum which opened in 2011. H&deM’s gallery is their signature decorated rhomboidal shed with aluminum-mesh cladding panels stamped with a pattern of creases, while Nouvel’s is definitely a duck, its cylindrical forms reflecting the concrete silos on adjoining sites and its industrial detailing referencing the mills that once lined the Mississippi River at this point and created the wealth of the 19th century city. A gymnastic cantilever projecting out over the river provides spectacular views to St. Anthony Falls. As he did in London at One New Change and Reina Sofia in Madrid, Nouvel has delivered a popular new public space that enhances the visitor’s experience of the city. However, our local guides were keener to point out the picturesque ruins of the largest flour mill in the world, destroyed by a flour dust explosion and into which local architects Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle have sensitively inserted a contemporary office building. But the highlight of our tour was the Christ Church Lutheran designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1948 with an extension by Eero twenty or so years later. The interior is beautifully crafted in brick with a simple curved screen at the altar end flooded with south light. We had come to Minneapolis to study its cycling infrastructure—and we were impressed. Our group of 13 riders pedalled along the Midtown Greenway, a traffic-free cycle route which runs on a defunct railway line right through the heart of the city, then on to bicycle boulevards—lower-volume, slow speed streets with safe crossings which felt very comfortable to ride in. Bike lanes in the city are comprehensive in the central area and we found it easy to get around. Last year Bicycling Magazine named Minneapolis America’s “No 1 Bike City,” beating Portland, Oregon, despite the fact that the city experiences ferocious winters and riders have to fit studded tires in icy periods. Nearly four percent of Minneapolis residents bike to work according to Census data—an increase of 33 percent since 2007, and 500 percent since 1980. Two particularly interesting points, emerged from our conversations—that, like the High Line, the Midtown Greenway is a major generator of new residential development, and, like New York, most of the cycling infrastructure had been put in within the last decade—much quicker than most European cycling cities. These are just two lessons among the many we will be taking back to London to promote more and better cycling infrastructure in the UK capital.
Peavey Plaza, downtown Minneapolis’ celebrated modernist square completed in 1975, fell into disrepair—two of its three iconic fountains are no longer operational, and its sunken “garden rooms” have helped harbor illegal activity. Landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg’s plaza became the focus of a high-profile preservation battle two years ago, with The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) leading the charge to rehabilitate Peavey and city officials pushing for demolition. Now TCLF has announced the plaza has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The “park plaza” style Friedberg forged is evident in Peavey’s blend of hard concrete squares and American-style green spaces. It joins 88,000 sites of architectural heritage on the list, only 2,500 of which have significance in landscape architecture. Preservationists sued the city last year to contest city council’s claim that there were “no reasonable alternatives” to demolition, hoping to win protection under Minnesota’s Environmental Rights Act.
Twin Cities sports fans may be most excited about Sunday’s victory on the field, but a twinge of that satisfaction could be due to the team’s new stadium. Minnesota’s Sports Facilities Authority chose HKS architects to design a new home for the NFL’s Vikings. HKS also designed Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Cowboys Stadium in their home base of Dallas—two of the most high-profile NFL construction projects in recent memory. A decision on the lead contractor for the project has yet to come down, but news of the $975 million stadium’s designer is the latest announcement in a long and at-times contentious political process that subsidizes professional sports in Minneapolis. Face-painted fans turned out to city council meetings as the deal cleared hurdles. With respected stadium architects on board, supporters may anticipate validation for their use of public funds. Those opposed maintain only time will tell, no matter the designer.
When a bucolic cemetery in Minneapolis began to near capacity, its owners worried a large expansion might dampen the landscape’s pastoral charm. Despite its comparatively large footprint, the 24,500-square-foot Garden Mausoleum in Minneapolis’ Lakewood Cemetery is in harmony with the existing mausoleum and chapel that it sits between, as if in meditation. The 141-year-old non-sectarian cemetery occupies 250 acres in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. Designed by Joan Soranno and John Cook, both with HGA Architects and Engineers, the Garden Mausoleum peeks out of a south-facing hill along the northern edge of the site’s “sunken garden.” Mahogany and charcoal granite walls complement white marble and onyx floors that alternate between honey yellow, jade green, and coral pink. The handsomely understated spaces are prime for spiritual exploration and self-reflection. Elegant and quietly powerful, the mausoleum is an authentic union of materials and design.
An average Walmart tops 100,000 square feet. With more than 600 stores nationwide, the company has a mighty footprint. And when a store goes under, it can be somewhat of a crater in the local real estate market. One Walmart in McAllen, Texas—about 15 miles from the Mexican border—got a major facelift from Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, who also have an office in Marysville, Md. They won an ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award for their work converting the defunct big box store into a library. Now instead of groceries and inexpensive consumer goods, a 124,500-square-foot Walmart skeleton houses the McAllen Library. It’s the largest single-story library in the U.S., which could have left readers lost in the cavernous space instead of lost in a book. To remedy that problem, the firm adopted some of the building’s original programming: They separated meeting rooms, staff areas, and other programs into quadrants, providing wayfinding with colorful signage and two spines that bisect the building. A number of graphic-patterned ceiling elements delineate genre categories, while a patterned wood ceiling runs the length of the building. One month after the new library opened, library registration increased 23 percent. Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle has also rehabbed five abandoned buildings in Philadelphia’s Navy Yards for Urban Outfitters headquarters.
It's a story that's been told in city after city. If you build it, they won't leave. Professional sports teams hold cities hostage, playing on the loyalty of fans to get expensive, taxpayer-funded facilities, while displaying little civic loyalty of their own. Anyway! In Minneapolis, the Vikings have said they won't decamp for Los Angeles if the city and state agree to help build a new $975 million stadium on the site of the Metrodome, according to the Star-Tribune. The new Metrodome would be built in time for the 2016 season, but only if the state agrees to a $398 million subsidy and the city agrees to forgo $150 in hospitality taxes. Details about the design are sketchy at best. A rendering presented at the press conference was developed by HKS Architects several years ago, though an aerial rendering differs somewhat from the HKS design.