It has only been a few short months since the Memphis, Tennessee, Brooks Museum of Art announced it was considering a move from its current home to the proposed Mississippi riverfront cultural center. The city is now listening to ideas to fill the historic 1916 building, and the proposal is for the National Black Theater Museum. Spearheaded by the local Hattiloo Theater, the museum hopes to bring together at least four other theater programs from across the country. The building the Brooks Museum is currently housed in, located in Overton Park, is in need of extensive renovation, including environmental updates to preserve the art inside. It has been estimated that it would cost upwards of $80 million for necessary fixes, and the building would still not address additional space needs for the museum's growing collection. The proposed National Black Theater Museum would take the building in a new direction by focusing on interactive digital installations rather than displaying fine art. The basis for the museum is a mobile gallery formed by Hattiloo in 2010, yet the proposed institution will take on a much grander presence. Four black theater organizations have pledged support, and have expressed interest in moving their institutions to the new Memphis museum. These include the Baltimore-based Black Theatre Commons, Washington, D.C.–based August Wilson Society, St. Paul, Minnesota–based Black Theatre Association, as well as the Lorton, Virginia–based Black Theatre Network. Memphis’s own Rhodes College is also getting involved, with the possibility of expanding its Africana Studies and Performing Arts departments. Additionally, a private donor has committed to a gift of $350,000 help establish the museum. While the museum is the first proposal to be presented, the city will be hearing other ideas for the Brooks Museum building for the next 90 days. If the National Black Theater Museum proposal is accepted, Memphians will have access to 500 years of digitized manuscripts and archives, from African dance through Academy Award–winning films.
Posts tagged with "Mississippi River":
On October 26, a historic deal was implemented in New Orleans: the Port of New Orleans (PNO) and the Public Belt Railroad (PBR) swapped riverfront properties, unlocking a key stretch of land to what may soon be the largest uninterrupted public riverfront in the U.S. In the swap, PNO took ownership of a stretch of railroad along the Mississippi River and PBR took ownership of two large wharves–Esplanade Avenue and Governor Nicholls Street Wharves. PBR is owned by the City of New Orleans, which now plans to redevelop both wharves as public space (à la Mandeville Wharf). This redevelopment will connect two existing riverfront parks, Bywater's Crescent Park and the French Quarter's Woldenburg Park. This linkage is key in the long-term vision to develop the entire New Orleans riverfront as one contiguous public parkway, as detailed by Eskew Dumez + Ripple's 2008 Reinventing the Crescent plan. In a press conference on October 27, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced several major riverfront redevelopments, including the keystone wharf redevelopments. The wharves themselves have been allocated $15 million. The other developments announced are generally focused on improving existing public amenities along the Mississippi riverfront from the French Quarter to Bywater neighborhoods. They include a $7.5 million renovation of Spanish Plaza, a $400 million renovation of the World Trade Center at the Four Seasons hotel, a new $37 million terminal for the Canal Street Ferry, a new $7.3 million pedestrian bridge over the railway to the ferry terminal, $6 million in park improvements for Woldenberg Park in the French Quarter, $3 million in green space improvements for part of the Riverwalk, and $31.2 million for expansions to Crescent Park. Many of these projects are ongoing. After a series of major floods this summer, water experts in New Orleans are paying close attention to how the city is spending on water management. "The challenge in New Orleans is that we can't rub two nickels together to wrap up our water infrastructure and drainage problems," said Ramiro Diaz, a designer at architecture firm Waggonner and Ball, in a call with The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "Overall, I think it's a positive development, though. People have been waiting for these riverfront projects for years." Waggonner and Ball were the lead designers behind the Greater New Orleans Water Plan. According to Eskew Dumez + Ripple principal Steve Dumez, his firm is now looking into implementing the western end of the Reinventing the Crescent plan. This would open up riverfront property around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, extending the parkway even further.
HOK last week released new renderings of a speculative stadium on the banks of the Mississippi River—the latest in the saga of the NFL's Rams franchise as it mulls leaving St. Louis for its original home, Los Angeles. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke last year bought 60 acres next to the Forum in Inglewood and has announced plans to build an HKS-designed, 80,000-seat stadium there. In St. Louis, a city-appointed task force replied with a 64,000-seat, open-air stadium designed by HOK and 360 Architecture on which they have staked “the reinvention of St. Louis’ city center.” The latest renderings don't show many changes, but do offer a bit more detail on how the Rams' St. Louis home would look, should they choose to stay. Earlier this month a judge approved the use of public money for the project, although many have criticized such pursuits, noting thin evidence that subsidies for sports franchises have any positive impact on municipal economies. NOTE: (HOK completed the acquisition of 360 Architecture in early 2015 and they are now one firm. HOK recently launched a new Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice.)
Via Chicago Line Cruises, this infographic tells the tale of one of the greatest engineering projects ever completed: the reversal of the Chicago River. Chicago was booming in the late 1800s, but like many cities of the day it lacked proper sewer infrastructure. As a result the city was choking on its own waste. To solve the problem, engineers launched a project so demanding it spawned its own informal textbook of geological-scale interventions: the Chicago School of Earth Moving. By reversing the river, Chicagoans sent their waterborne waste into the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico, instead of into Lake Michigan. That decision was controversial at the time, and part of the reason Chicago got away with flushing their refuse past St. Louis is that engineers blasted the decisive dam to start the new flow in the middle of the night on New Years Day—just in time to preempt a lawsuit coming together in St. Louis. Today the decision is still controversial—for its contribution to toxic algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, and for its otherwise unprecedented withdrawal of fresh water from the Great Lakes—but it has also come to be revered for its sheer engineering bombast. The American Society of Civil Engineers in 1999 named The Chicago Wastewater System a "Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium."
Missouri's football fans are savoring plans for a new NFL stadium in downtown St. Louis, but it remains unclear if the HOK-led designs will be enough to keep the Rams from leaving. In January fans of the St. Louis Rams got new reason to fear their football team might depart when owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build an HKS-designed 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. Twenty years after the NFL team left L.A. in the first place, they may well move back—but not if St. Louis officials and fans have their way. New renderings released in March give more substance to plans that could woo the Rams into staying: a football and soccer stadium on the banks of the Mississippi River designed by St. Louis–based HOK. The National Football League has said no team relocations will happen this year, but either stadium plan could be ready for construction in 2016.
A residential development in downtown Minneapolis is set to give the city its first woonerf, a road type developed in the Netherlands that integrates vehicle traffic and parking with pedestrians, bicyclists and public amenities. The BKV Architects–designed Mill City Quarter housing breaks ground later this year, starting with a six-story building that will include up to 150 rental housing units priced to be affordable for those making 60 percent of the metropolitan median income or less. Later phases will add more units, say developers Wall Cos. and Lupe Development Partners, including 45 units for those with memory problems and 105 for assisted and independent living. Taking up the block at the northwest corner of 2nd Street and 3rd Avenue, the development hopes to connects the Mill District—home to the popular riverside Mill City Museum, Guthrie Theater, and soon a massive mixed-use development in the shadow of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium—with the rehabbed warehouses and thriving cultural scene of the North Loop neighborhood. Bisecting that block is a former rail corridor leading toward Mississippi River trails and a riverside visitor center that Minneapolis' Park Board has proposed for just downstream of the 3rd Avenue Bridge. Mill City Quarter's developers have agreed to make that side street into a woonerf with 80 diagonal parking spaces flanking colored pavement demarcating reduced-speed vehicle traffic, green space, bike lanes and pedestrian zones. Minneapolis' Park Board approved plans for the “amenity-rich plaza street,” through the $73.8 million development, but expressed concerns over developer and former City Council member Steve Minn's plans to install a gate at the park end of the woonerf, which he said he'd keep closed during park off-hours, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. By exempting the development from a new parks law that would require them to donate land to public space, the Park Board gave their agreement some teeth—if the developers restrict public access to the land they could be on the hook for $61,400.
St. Louis' NFL franchise, the Rams, left Los Angeles in 1994. Twenty years later they're mulling a move back, but not without a fight from the residents of their new Midwestern home. Last week plans for a new arena on the banks of the Mississippi River upped the ante, promising Rams fans 64,000 seats and an open-air stadium designed by HOK and 360 Architecture that a city-appointed task force called “the crown jewel of the reinvention of St. Louis’ city center”. L.A., where the Rams were founded and played for nearly 50 years, offers an 80,000-seat stadium designed by HKS. The Associated Press said last week that billionaire Rams owner Stan Kroenke wasn't returning calls from St. Louis city officials. In November Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Former Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock and Attorney Bob Blitz to lead a task force on the new stadium proposed for the North Riverfront area of downtown. Their plan, released Friday, said “the new stadium will impose no new tax burden on taxpayers in the local region or the State of Missouri”. It proposes bridging I-44 to link the Edward Jones Dome with St. Louis' Great Rivers Greenway network and the CityArchRiver grounds, where the city's iconic Gateway Arch and Museum of Western Expansion are undergoing a massive renovation and expansion. If approved, the stadium, which would also play host to Major League Soccer games, would start construction in 2016 and be ready for games in 2020. That is, if St. Louis still has a team; The National Football League has said no team relocations will happen this year.
Earlier this month, workers broke ground on the largest Twin Cities real estate development project in two decades. Budding off a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, designed by HKS, locally based Ryan Companies saw an opportunity to redefine the Minneapolis neighborhood of Downtown East. Their five-block mixed-use development will include two 18-story office towers for Wells Fargo, six levels of parking with more than 1,600 spaces, about 24,000 square feet of retail space, 193 apartments and a four-acre urban park near the new stadium’s northwest corner. Wells Fargo currently has 5,000 employees scattered across more than a dozen offices throughout the area. Bordering the Mississippi River, Downtown East is already home to the Guthrie Theater, whose form mimics the defunct flour mills that comprise much of the area’s post-industrial building stock—a heritage celebrated by the Mill City Museum, also in Downtown East. And while some residential development has followed those cultural attractions, the neighborhood has so far missed out on the artistic cachet that has enlivened nearby areas like North Loop and Northeast. The New York Times took a look at what the Downtown East development could mean for the city and state, which wrestled with financing for the new Vikings Stadium before ultimately approving partial public funding. While officials are quick to tout the project’s economic potential, some residents blast its lack of low-income housing. From the Times article by Christina Capecchi:
Mayor [Betsy] Hodges said she hoped to work affordable housing into Downtown East. “The housing portion hasn’t been fully fleshed out,” she said, “so that’s a conversation we’re having.” Ultimately, Downtown East is a chance to spur the development that the 31-year-old Metrodome failed to generate, said Michael Langley, chief executive of the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. “This is an opportunity for a huge do-over,” he said.Minneapolis has undertaken a slew of large infrastructure improvements lately, such as a revamp of downtown's pedestrian strip, Nicollet Mall, and public transportation investments to the bike-friendly city that include a long-awaited light rail connection to neighboring St. Paul and an intermodal transit station next to Target Field.
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.