The master plan for revitalizing Minneapolis’ Mississippi Riverfront provides a new model for urban living on the waterfront. Focused on five miles of riverfront land north of downtown, the design defines new connections with the river and river life, weaving these rich experiences back into the city. By developing a network of bridges, pavilions, parks, infrastructure, and natural ecologies, the project cleans and re-constitutes this working riverfront and guides a longer-term transformation for the city.
A family of bridges linking the river’s banks provides physical connections between city districts; creates new icons along the length of the site; and establishes new spaces for occupation and activity hovering over the river. The bridges are not only places to cross, they are destinations: stepped benches and sloped roofs become flexible platforms for events and recreation, with views of the downtown skyline in the distance. They provide moments of reprieve from winter cold, spaces to stretch out in summer warmth, and new gathering spots for July 4th.
The Bridges are linked to one another via the revitalized Riverwalk and area parks that also connect commuters from Northeast Minneapolis via a proposed light rail corridor on the western edge of the site. Integrated photovoltaic panels and fish-safe turbines at each structural pier allow the bridges to function as zero-energy structures, providing energy for lighting and conditioning. Together, they create a more sustainable and integrated network of living, transit, and recreation.
Each river crossing is distinct and individual bridges are designed to take full advantage of the unique characteristics of their sites. For instance the first bridge arcs across and around Saint Anthony Falls, providing an extraordinary, direct experience of the historic falls and the power of the Mississippi. The bridge connects to downtown via the Mill Ruins Park and upriver to Nicollet Island. Three additional new bridges located north of the Falls incorporate a diversity of programs, each a nexus that both bridges the river and connects to the activity along its banks.
PLATFORMS FOR RECREATION & PERFORMANCE
Through the adaptive reuse of existing barges for recreation and performance, the project engages the Mississippi’s rich history as a working river yet transforms the river from an industrial conduit into a source of recreation. The barges’ mobile character allows them to activate the river at multiple locations, acting as mutable catalysts which can extend and reinvent how the people of Minneapolis understand and experience their riverfront. A Swimming Barge creates an unprecedented opportunity for recreation in the river’s midst by inserting a series of pools, a diving platform, an outdoor terrace, and a cafe on an existing barge. A second barge provides an extraordinary platform for performance on the water. This Amphitheater Barge’s twinned shape creates a seating bowl above the barge deck below, providing an intimate space for performance. Beneath its lifted form is a broad space sheltered from the elements, a stage for larger-scale performances where the audience remains on the adjacent shoreline or on individual watercraft.
LOCATION / Minneapolis, Minnesota
TYPE / Urban Master Plan
SIZE / 5.5 mile parkway
STATUS / Design Completed 2011
ROLE / Design Architect & Architect of Record
COLLABORATOR / Stoss Landscape Urbanism