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Designers Ask: What\’s Your Minneapolis | Mississippi Experience?

“What’s your experience of the Upper Mississippi riverfront?” That’s the question – in the broadest sense – that the MR|DC’s four competing landscape and urban design teams have for Minneapolis residents and visitors.

Today, we released the in-depth “Designer Ask” survey, so-called because it comprises questions from the design teams for the community. The Designer Ask contains 25 mostly open-ended questions arranged in five categories:

  • Living in Minneapolis (or your Minneapolis experience, if you’re a non-resident)
  • Relationship to the River
  • Getting There
  • What Do You Want
  • Community Engagement

Share your responses online or pick up a print survey at any Minneapolis Park and Recreation Center. If you’d like to participate in one of several small-group discussions of the Designer Ask, join us for a Community Meeting (agenda PDF) this evening, December 7, 7-8:30 PM in the Board Room of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, 2117 West River Road.

Competition Project Manager Mary deLaittre describes the survey as a key component in the information-gathering phase of the design process. Community participation in the Designer Ask provides a contemporary, human-level perspective on the Upper Riverfront and the neighborhoods that’s an essential addition to the substantial quantity of plans, maps, historical documents and other information provided in the Competition Brief from multiple government, educational, neighborhood, and advocacy groups. In other words – your comments count!

The deadline for survey responses is December 21, 2010. This allows the design teams enough time to incorporate what they learn into their design process.

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A Glimpse of Design Team Visits

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Stone Arch Bridge from the Guthrie Theater

The four design teams – Ken Smith Workshop, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Tom Leader Studio and Turenscape – converged in Minneapolis this week and braved the weather as they embarked on the information-gathering phase of the design process.

A tremendous cross section of Minneapolis decision makers – members of the Design Advisory Group and competition jurors – gathered to ‘Meet the Designers\’ at the Guthrie Theater Monday night. It was a wonderful opportunity for everyone to meet one another, exchange information and make connections for future discussions.

Local river experts from MNRRA, University of Minnesota, City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board shared information with the designers at the Designer Workshop, a mini-symposium intended to provide designers with a kaleidoscope of information about the river – past, present and future – and introduce  designers to key contact people at various institutions working on the river, as well as to give them an opportunity to ask questions.

During the off-hours, the teams were seen walking the length of the river, meeting with a myriad of people and collecting data and impressions. The excitement around this project is palpable throughout the community, not only excitement and enthusiasm to meet the designers and provide information but also the desire to be inspired and educated about ‘what could be\’ along the river.

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Tonight: Walter Hood Continues Next Gen Parks Series at Walker Art Center

7 PM, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Free – Tickets are available at the Walker beginning at 6 PM

Hood Design, founded by Walter Hood in 1992, is a studio committed to issues that address the reconstruction of urban landscapes within towns and cities. He is described by the New York Times as “a pioneer in a new approach to landscape design in which streets, squares, plazas, playgrounds andparks are fused into a jaunty new urban form, one resonant of a site’s past.” He is a professor and former chair of the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning program at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2009, Hood Design received the prestigious National Design Award in Landscape Design from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

The Next Generation of Parks speaker series is presented by the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, with its partners the Walker Art Center, the University of Minnesota College of Design, and The Trust for Public Land.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design.

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Wednesday, November 10: Millennium Park Presentation

You’re invited to join MR|DC co-sponsor the Minneapolis Parks Foundation for the free Next Generation of Parks speaker series. The talks explore 21st-century parks design around the world, and is the first phase of the Foundation\’s initiative to build on Minneapolis\’ award-winning parks heritage. Next up:

Next Generation of Parks Speaker Series
Ed Uhlir, Executive Director, Millennium Park, Chicago
Wednesday, November 10, 7 PM   FREE
McPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis

The creation of Chicago\’s Millennium Park, which opened in 2004, was a complex and difficult undertaking. Through an unprecedented public/private partnership an extraordinary cultural venue was created by some of the best architects, landscape designers, and artists in the world.

Ed Uhlir will describe how the project design evolved over its six year gestation, how $220M was raised from the private sector and how the park and its programming have had an enormous economic and social impact on Chicago.

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Land, Water, People: New Parks in Practice

Lance Neckar, Professor and Head, Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Design, University of Minnesota inspired MR|DC Design Advisory Group members with a world tour of riverfront parks.

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Shortlist Announcement and Team Visits Rescheduled

Largely due to the U.S. elections, which will be held on Tuesday, November 2, MR|DC has rescheduled our Shortlist Announcement to Monday, November 8 (formerly Monday, November 1).

This change necessitates two subsequent adjustments: The Competition Brief will be made available to shortlisted teams and the public on November 8, and Team Visits to Minneapolis will held Monday, November 29 – Wednesday, December 1, giving the competing teams more opportunity to plan and schedule their travel.

The design submission deadline (Friday, January 21, 2011) and the scheduled winner announcement (Thursday, February 10) do not change.

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Submittals are In!

Our stretch of the “Fourth Coast” – the Mississippi Riverfront – attracted submittals to the MR|DC from sea to shining sea . . . and overseas, as well.

The first response to our RFQ arrived via email from Mumbai; the second via post from Spain. In all, some 14 countries on five continents are represented among the pool of some 55 submittals.

Just as impressive is the caliber of the design teams and the quality of their work. We estimate 300 or so architects, landscape architects, city planners, ecologists, engineers, public artists, and others in related design and development fields, have thrown their hats in the ring. We thank them – and look forward to reviewing the work they so generously put forward.

Check back here in a couple of days for a complete list of named teams who submitted.

Note: submittal total updated on 22 October.

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What exactly is a 21st-century park?

We like to say it\’s more than turf and trees, though plenty of those iconic elements are essential. Far less appealing, but no less critical, is careful foresight and planning.

One interesting example of design-meets-planning is  Olympic Park Legacy Company, which recently unveiled plans for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a post-games adaptation of the primary grounds of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games “that will become one of London\’s most celebrated places.”

Even as London has been developing the facilities and infrastructure necessary to host what is truly the world\’s largest multi-day event, designers and planners are considering what comes after:

[Queen Elizabeth Olympic] Park residents will enjoy strong physical, economic and social links with their long established neighbours in surrounding areas. Footpaths and cycleways, as well as waterways, bridges and roads; will criss-cross the Park, linking it to all its neighbouring communities. These vital local links will help stitch together previously disconnected and often isolated places.

The excellent transport connections will feed the local economy linking businesses and workers to new opportunities. These links will also open the Park to its cultural and social neighbours, offering new collaborations and shared opportunities for art, entertainment and events.

Minutes from Central London, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will form the southern portion of a 26-mile greenway, part of what\’s called the East London Green Grid, further relating the new park to the broader London landscape.

Here at MR|DC, we can\’t predict exactly what design will emerge in January 2011. We can say we share some of the key values expressed in the Olympic Park Legacy Company\’s vision: linking neighbors, making transportation connections, and creating opportunities to live, work, recreate, entertain and gather in a sustainable, integrated parks development. Our beautiful, iconic Minneapolis Riverfront, and the communities who cherish it, deserve no less.

Note: MR|DC co-sponsor, Minneapolis Parks Foundation, hosted a talk by Jamie Dean, Program Manager, of the Green Grid in May 2010, as the kick-off talk in their “Next Generation of Parks” Speaker Series; check out an except of Dean\’s presentation, here.

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Riverfront Design: Making Connections

Minneapolis-based reporter Chris Steller of The Line connected the 2010 Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition to Mississippi/Minneapolis, a seminal 1972 plan for the development and revitalization of the City\’s riverfront produced by the City\’s planning department.

Steller\’s article featured an interview with Andrew Blauvelt, Design Curator at Walker Art Center, an MRDC creative partner. In it, Steller also links the design competition with the Minneapolis Parks Foundation\’s visionary Next Generation of Parks initiative, of which the MRDC is the first demonstration project.

If you\’re curious about the history of the City\’s riverfront, perusing Mississippi/Minneapolis is a great place to start. To learn about contemporary parks design, check out the Next Generation of Parks continuing free lecture series on November 10.

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Next Generation of Parks Lecture Series Continues TONIGHT with Peter Harnik of the Trust for Public Land

MR|DC co-sponsor the Minneapolis Parks Foundation has been bringing to the Twin Cities the best and the brightest in contemporary parks design for the “Next Generation of Parks” speaker series, including a riveting presentation about New York City\’s innovative and award-winning High Line, which reclaimed an abandoned elevated railway for a lush public promenade with a view.

Tonight, Peter Harnik, Director, Center for City Parks Excellence, the Trust for Public Land, continues the series when he talks about his new book, Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities, showing the newest ways that “all built out” cities can add much-needed parkland. Showcasing photographs and interviews from his extensive travels, Harnik will reveal the real-life challenges and solutions to creating more urban parks.

When: (Tonight!) Tuesday, September 28, 7 PM
Free, no reservations required; reception to follow
Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Can\’t make tonight\’s event? Mark your calendar for November 10, when Ed Uhlir
Executive Director, Millenium Park, Chicago, will join us.

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