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The TLS/KVA RIVERFIRST Project establishes a design framework to address four challenges for the 21st cen- tury: WATER, HEALTH, MOBILITY and GREEN ECONOMY. RIVERFIRST design initiatives function at multiple scales to link larger natural, social, civic and economic ecologies and raise citizen awareness about the impacts of consumer choices on the Upper Mississippi River.

WATER: Through landscape design, green products and public education initiatives, the RIVERFIRST Park offers new ways for people to recreate and socialize along the river and builds public consensus for the gradual trans- formation of the Mississippi USAF Pool to a more natural, living River.

HEALTH: RIVERFIRST leverages Park land to improve the health of the river, the city and its neighborhoods. New opportunities are created to increase urban agriculture, provide food security and expand neighborhood access to healthy foods in ways that build community and local businesses.

MOBILITY: RIVERFIRST offers a multi-modal, sustainable public transportation system for commuting and rec- reation with continuous pedestrian and bike/ski riverfront trails and a new Prairie Loop clean bus shuttle that connects North and Northeast neighborhoods to existing and proposed LRT lines.

GREEN ECONOMY: RIVERFIRST proposes to consider the Park as a catalyst to accelerate the transition from smokestack industry to a 21st century Green Economy based on logistical transportation advantages, smart and clean technology innovation.

RIVERFIRST offers a comprehensive remediation of the city\’s storm water management system and its conceptu- al transformation into a system of ‘tributaries\’ that are naturally cleaned with planted bio-filtration landscapes and returned to the river. The topography of the RIVERFIRST design is guided by the dynamics of the river. Where water carves and erodes, subtractive design principles are used to create water remediation ravines and terrace overlooks.    Where the river deposits new material, accretive principles of design are used to mold and shape land berms for the new Park.

The recovery of Northside Wetlands, and the design of storm water remediation ‘ravines\’ on the North East bluffs integrate public Park land with municipal eco-infrastructure and a wide range of recreation activities. The TLS/KVA design uses site topography to reconnect the Northside\’s historic Farview Park with the River, urban agriculture and new skilled jobs in a proposed River City Innovation District. The site\’s sloped cross- section provides for a compact footprint for a Green Port and Green Economy Industries. Sculpted landforms enable pedestrian and bike/ski River Shore Trails to rise above existing barge terminals allowing for immediate, continuous public Riverfront access. The RIVERFIRST design for Scherer Park restores Hall\’s Island with public swim/skate and kayak launching facility and provides for sustainable Housing, Live/Work Studios and an Arts Center. At Scherer Park, the river produces its own dynamic landscape of sand bars and shallow pools that shift according to winter melts, patterns of sediment deposition and river flows.

Real time water monitoring from the Minnesota USGS website is made public with energy efficient, smart il- lumination along Knot Bridges which link the creative energy of the NE Arts District with the River City Innova- tion District and Downtown. Floating Biohaven Islands made of recycled water bottles anchored to existing bridge piers provide seven acres of protected riparian habitat for migrating birds and endangered wildlife. The River Talk mobile phone app and solar powered Park WiFi Network create unprecedented opportunities for lo- cal and national public education about river ecology attracting world class institutional, corporate and organi- zational partners to the Minneapolis Parks.


Tom Leader
Tom Leader, Principal, (TLS) is a landscape architecture and planning practice that seeks to investigate the uniqueness of cities and their landscapes. Community collaboration is central to TLS in civic projects such as the newly-opened 20 acre Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. The TLS project “Shanghai Carpet” has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art\’s 2005 “Groundswell” exhibit. TLS was also included in the 2006 Triennial “Design Life Now” at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. The landscape, art and architecture collaboration, “Pool Pavilion Forest” with artist James Turrell was featured in the New York Times Magazine and received a 2009 ASLA Honor Award. A monograph of the firm\’s work “Tom Leader Studio: Three Projects” has been recently published by Princeton Architectural Press.

Sheila Kennedy, AIA
Sheila Kennedy received her Bachelor\’s Degree in history, philosophy and literature from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. Kennedy studied architecture at the Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris and received the Masters of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where she was graduated with Distinction, the School\’s highest academic honor. As an Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Kennedy was Director of the M Arch II Program from 1991-1995 and is currently Professor of the Practice of Architecture at MIT. She is the first woman to hold this position in the MIT Department of Architecture.

As a founding Principal of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd. (KVA), Sheila Kennedy has established a new model for an interdisciplinary design practice that explores architecture, digital technology and emerging public needs. Designated as one of Fast Company\’s emerging Masters of Design, Kennedy is described as an “insightful and original thinker who is designing new ways of working, leading and innovating”. In 2000, Kennedy established MATx, the pioneering materials research unit at KVA. MATx engages applied creative production across the fields of design, digital electronics, architecture, and material science. The MATx Portable Light Project, a non-profit global initiative to provide adaptable solar textile kits in the developing world has been recognized with a 2009 US Congressional Award, a 2009 Energy Globe Award and a 2008 Tech Museum Laureate Award for technology that benefits humanity.

Kennedy has served as an advisor to the United States Department of Energy, the National Academy of Sciences\’ Government-Industry Partnerships and the Vision 2020 National Technology Roadmap. She is the author of multiple patents for the integration of digital technologies into architecture, building materials and textiles. Kennedy\’s research and work in architecture have been recognized by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Academy of Sciences.

Juan Frano Violich, FAIA
Violich received his Bachelor\’s degree in Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, and received the Masters of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he was graduated with Distinction, the School\’s highest academic honor. Frano Violich received Harvard University\’s Julia Appleton Travelling Fellowship Award and studied the fusion of traditional construction and contemporary design in Japan. In 1990, he founded Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA Matx) in partnership with Sheila Kennedy.

As an artist, Violich has had solo exhibitions at MassMoca in North Adams, MA, the Max Protech Gallery in New York City, NY, and the Phillip Bonafont Gallery in San Francisco, CA, and his work is in the permanent collection of the Museo de Arte Contemporanea in Merida, Mexico. Violich lectures and has given keynote talks at international conferences on design and the creative economy including the 2010 Design & Innovations Conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the 2009 Centro Metropolitana de Diseno Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the 2008 World Sustainability Conference in Melbourne, Australia, the 2008 Conference of the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture and the 2007 Society for College & University Planners in Montreal, Canada.

Violich has been on the visiting Faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design, and has held the Saarinen Distinguished Professorship at the University of Michigan, the Freidman Guest Professorship at UC Berkeley, and Shur Visiting Professorship at the University of Virginia. Frano Violich has served as Design Commissioner of the Boston Society of Architects and is Chair of the Executive Committee for the Design and Industry Group of Massachusetts (DIGMA) working with leaders in government, business, and education to advance design as an integral part of the Massachusetts innovation economy. Elevated to the American Institute of Architects National College of Fellows in 2008, Violich is a registered Architect of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the State of New York, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the State of Rhode Island.