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The TLS/KVA team of consultants began their work last week, inaugurating a six month process by which their winning proposal "RiverFirst" will be fleshed out, key projects identified, and a strategy for moving forward developed. Brief recap: last fall, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, with creative partnerships from the Walker Art Center and the University of Minnesota College of Design, held a Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition to gather visions for the future of 5.5 miles of riverfront above St. Anthony Falls. The team of Tom Leader Studio and Kennedy & Violich Architecture won the competition; it is this work that began in earnest last week.
Design competitions are always rushed things of course, and it is extremely difficult to get a fully detailed, immersive look at the projects and visions. But RiverFirst is one of those projects that is more and more impressive, the more you study it. It sees the river as central to four critically important systems in this area: water, mobility, health, and a green economy. Too often, a river vision is clumsily grafted onto an existing urban and bio-physical matrix, plopped down as if it could be anywhere. Not so with this one; in fact several of us who have worked with this corridor for a decade or more found our knowledge and experience of the place challenged by the depth and imagination brought by the RiverFirst team.
Stay tuned to this blog and to the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (after the "competition" is over, the effort needed a new name, right?) for updates, opportunities to contribute your thoughts, and to have your own conceptions challenged with regard to the possibilities for an urban riverfront.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.