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Places feature interview with Chris Reed of Stoss

Check out this excerpt from a Places interview one of our favorite “kick-a**” landscape designers.

Team Stoss Planning in three cities

(Team Stoss at work on Streamlines, 2010)


Interview: Quilian Riano

Landscape Optimism: An Interview with Chris Reed

Earlier this year I interviewed Chris Reed at his office at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, where he is an Adjunct Associate Professor. We focused on the evolution of his design ideas.

Quilian Riano: You were recently one of four finalists in the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition. How has this large-scale project allowed you to develop your thinking about landscape urbanism?

Chris Reed: The competition called for remaking 5.5 miles of the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis, running from the center of the city to its northern border. Notably, the RFP emphasized parks as a catalyst for new development – yet it was clear from the start that a traditional park, bordered by the kind of mixed-use waterfront development that’s become typical, wouldn’t be possible here. The territory is too large, the economy wouldn’t support that much development, and there weren’t any funds available to build conventional single-use – that is, recreational – parks. There were also questions about whether it was wise to displace existing industrial uses, and the jobs they provided.

Our proposal is as much about bringing the river and river-life into the city as it is about bringing the city’s inhabitants to the river. To this end we imagine not just one or two green strands – essentially, linear parks  along the river, but a whole series of new landscape and infrastructure strands that weave around and across the river, and permeate the urban fabric, both existing and new. It was this concept that gave our proposal its name: Streamlines.

It’s important to emphasize that what we are calling strands are not simply parks. They are designed to be catalysts for change that sponsor new social, cultural, ecological and economic life in the city and along the river. The goal here is to render landscape – and large-scale landscape processes like ecological succession and adaptation – as a new type of infrastructure and a new framework for retrofitted and diversified urban neighborhoods. More importantly, Streamlines focuses not just on the elements we proposed but also on the processes by which those elements would be created. How to reclaim the river as civic space in a part of the city where it has been severed and forgotten? How to build public interest and political support for the conversion of complex (and in part contaminated) industrial sites? How to develop financing strategies for hybrid landscape-infrastructure-development projects, and how to plan for long-term management and administration? These are the elements that make Streamlines truly a project of landscape urbanism.

Continue reading ‘Landscape Optimism: An Interview with Chris Reed,’ with more on Streamlines and Stoss’ other work, on Places.

Update: Abridged, 9/21/11.

Posted in Global Parks Design, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

From Vision to Reality: Join Us for the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative

The wait is over, and much earlier than expected: The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced last night (6 April) the formation of the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MR|DI), the successor to the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition that will fulfill the vision of a renewed Upper Riverfront.

As announced in February, winning team TLS/KVA joins the Park Board for this first, design strategy phase, now through September 2011. As with the design competition, public engagement will be an integral part of the process, with several public meetings at intervals during the next six months, as well as multiple, meaningful ways to re-engage the broader community with the river. The first public meetings are April 28-30 at Park Board headquarters (see sidebar).

With the implementation of the MR|DI, the MR|DC steps out of the spotlight. This site will stay live and serve as an archive of sorts. If you signed up for the MR|DC e-newsletter, you will continue to receive news about the Upper Riverfront from the MR|DI; if you subscribed to this blog, be sure to subscribe to the new one, as well. Finally, if you\’re active on Twitter and Facebook, our accounts there will evolve with the project.

While the MR|DI now takes precedence, the design competition remains relevant. In particular, the finalist design teams – Stoss, Ken Smith, Turenscape – all submitted inspiring work and contributed mightily to our greater knowledge about, and expectations for, the Upper Riverfront. We\’re confident the work begun here and built on past achievements, like the Above the Falls plan and the Central Riverfront revitalization, will continue to inspire vision, leadership, design and partnership-building along our most magnificent and significant natural asset, the Mississippi River.

Posted in Community Engagement, News | 3 Comments

TLS/KVA’s team members are “solid gold”

Solid Gold screen shotThe TLS/KVA team is more than the two “marquee” firms of Tom Leader Studio and Kennedy & Violich Architecture.

RiverFIRST proposal partners include Sherwood Civil Engineering and Knippers Helbig (engineering); ConsultEcon (economics); and Proverb (graphic design), as well as these nine firms based in Minnesota and Wisconsin:


Solid Gold

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Completing the Circle

Plymouth Bridge 360

Plymouth Bridge 360

With the 10 February announcement of TLS/KVA as the MR|DC\’s winning team, the design competition closes the circle on an amazing, transformative design process.

Beginning this week, we\’ll be preparing a series of short observations on the competition and the transition to the Minneapolis Riverfront initiative.

We\’re looking forward to sharing with you perspectives from a variety of competition participants – including TLS/KVA, a partner or two, and perhaps a student or advisory group member. Is there anyone in particular you\’d like to hear from? Let me know in this post\’s comments. If you have more thoughts to share, visit our new Comment on the Competition thread, or meet up with us on Facebook or @MplsRiverDesign on Twitter.

This website will adapt during the transition period. To be in the loop when it does, sign up for our newsletter or subscribe to this blog. (Of course, the site will be archived and URLs will redirect.)

As you know, an end is really a beginning. At the point where the competition ends, a new, interconnecting circle begins. Stay tuned for more!

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Comment on the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition

Thank you for participating in the discussion about the MR|DC. Comments on the competition will be relevant to the next steps in the Minneapolis riverfront initiative. You can also join the conversation on Facebook or connect with @MplsRiverDesign on Twitter.

Posted in Community Engagement | 3 Comments

Today’s Press Conference Agenda


Announcing Winning Team

10 February 2011

11-11:45 AM

Speaker | Agenda

11 AM Mary deLaittre

Project Manager

Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition

Cecily Hines


Minneapolis Parks Foundation

David Fisher

Superintendent Emeritus

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Winning Team

Jayne Miller


Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Mayor R.T. Rybak

City of Minneapolis

John Erwin


Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Q & A
11:45 Scheduled End ~ Thank you for coming
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View – or view again – the finalists’ presentations

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Looking forward for the Minneapolis Riverfront

On behalf of the Park Board, competition co-sponsor the Minneapolis Parks Foundation and our Partners, I\’d like to thank the Minneapolis StarTribune for its recent recognition of the role Minneapolis Parks play in our city\’s economic health.

In its January 5, “Making the most of the Mississippi corridor” editorial, the paper described the MR|DC as “a forward-looking vision that has the potential to improve the city’s vitality, livability and economy.” That\’s both high praise and a tall order. But successes – such as public park investments leveraging private investment along the downtown Central Riverfront – tell us that this project can attract “more business, residents and tourists,” a desirable outcome outlined by the StarTribune, and a goal we agree on.

We appreciate the StarTribune\’s support of this competition, along with the support we\’ve received from our competition CollaboratorsMinneapolis Riverfront Corporation, Friends of the Mississippi River, North Loop Neighborhood Association, Downtown Neighborhood Association – and Design Advisory Group members. Together with the public, all of us associated with the competition eagerly await the design teams\’ submissions.

Posted in News, Partners | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Designers’ Notebook: Behind the Scenes with Team Stoss

From the notebook of CHRIS REED, STOSS, 6 January 2011:

Team Stoss Planning in three cities

After returning from Minneapolis in December, the Stoss team went to work analyzing, conceptualizing, testing, re-thinking, re-drawing. This was a very animated time for us, with collaborative meetings and phone calls, sketches going back and forth via email—from Minneapolis to Boston to Los Angeles to New York and back. Not only were the designers on the team involved, but our ecologists, hydrologists, engineers, scientists, historian and economists were all weighing in—informing, challenging, shaping, refining. All of this culminated with a conceptual framework and supportive drawings being shared just as everyone on the team was heading off to the holidays, for a well-deserved rest.

This first week in January has been intense, the phone has not stopped ringing, the meetings continue, the email is flying, the Skype is skyping … We\’re using a combination of in-person, wired, and telephone communications and collaborations to shape and refine the park concepts—our cross-continental phone conference on January 5th is pictured here. Lots of debate, lots of energy, lots of serious fun.

Looking forward to sharing these ideas with everyone in a few weeks. But need to run now—only 15 days left until submission!

Posted in Designer's Notebook | Tagged | 1 Comment

Comment on the Design Proposals

Comments from the public on the four finalists’ designs, along with future community engagement activities developed post-competition, will be relevant to the identification and features of a selected riverfront project.

Update: Thank you for all of your comments and discussion about the four design proposals and on the winning team, TLS/KVA. If you have comments or suggestions about other aspects of the competition, you can jump on to our new comment thread called Comment on the Competition, added 15 Feb.

Write your comment below »

Posted in Community Engagement, Events, News | 164 Comments