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Merit Award - DESIGN

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The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN

The HOK Planning Group; McGough Construction Co., Inc. and Siebold, Sydow & Elfanbaum, Inc.

David A. Amalong, ASLA
Senior Associate, The HOK Planning Group
211 North Broadway, Suite 600
St. Louis, MO 63102
Tel. 314-421-2000;
Fax 314-421-6073

Project Purpose

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis overlooks the Mississippi River from the historic Bridgehead Site; location of Minneapolis' original settlement and first public square. The 8-acre site is at the junction of the City's two major streets: Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue. North of the site is a Riverfront park and the West River Parkway. To the south and west is the Historic Warehouse District, dating back to the late 19th Century.

As a result of urban analysis, the Bank building was designed as a collage of forms that respond to and integrate into to the existing urban fabric. The resulting spaces restore pedestrian access to the riverfront from the city at three locations: Hennepin Avenue, North First Avenue and North Second Avenue. The development is also significant in that it returns the site to its traditional role as a gateway to the City of Minneapolis and forms an edge to Bridgehead Square, which is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2001.

The site is divided into four distinct spaces, each serving critical circulation, public, and historic needs. Each of the spaces reinforces the city grid and provides connection between downtown and the river. First, the public plaza at the corner of Hennepin Avenue and North First Street reinstates Bridgehead Square while evoking a modern civic image. Native kasota stone, brick pavers, steel and glass site structures and furnishings comprise the design palette for the plaza. Marked by 25' tall stone columns, the urban character of the site changes from hardscape to park via a public greensward that slopes toward the riverfront. The expansive lawn and a curved brick promenade reinforce pedestrian movements toward the river and creates visual and physical connections to and from the riverfront. Fully accessible, the greensward includes site furnishings, landscape plantings and interpretive displays documenting historic uses of the Bridgehead site. An overlook is provided at the lower end of the greensward that allows opportunities for pedestrians to take in dramatic views of the Mississippi River, the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, and the Minneapolis skyline. The North First Avenue river access occurs between the office tower and the Operations Center functions of the Bank. Public access is through the auto arrival court that leads to a grand stairway connecting the Historic Warehouse District to the riverfront. The fourth public way occurs at the west edge of the site. This open space is informal and allows pedestrians to leisurely stroll in a natural setting along a meandering walkway. Native plant materials were used to provide a low maintenance landscape that may be the location of future building expansion.

Role of the Landscape Architect

The Landscape Architect sought to address the following design issues:

  • Reconnect pedestrian access with downtown Minneapolis and the Mississippi River by providing linkages through the site at several locations;
  • Provide an extension of Nicollet Mall; to influence the architectural massing to allow a connection to the river; to reestablish the Bridgehead Square site as a gateway to the City;
  • Restore a portion of Bridgehead Square as a plaza to once again serve as a significant public open space. The plaza, within Bridgehead Square serves as a terminus to Nicollet Mall as well as a demarcation between the urban street grid of Minneapolis and the park-like character of the Riverfront parks and Parkway.
  • Create a historical link to the site's past with interpretive displays and by incorporating the site along the city's Heritage Preservation Trail.

Special Factors

The Landscape Architects role went beyond the traditional services of design and construction documentation. Hired at the onset of the programming phase, the landscape architect led the site selection, site analysis, zoning approval processes as well as peer reviews with the local community and the Design Advisory Committee. The landscape architect reestablished linkages between the city and the river, and aided in influencing the building massing and form. All site paving, structures, lighting, plantings and interpretive displays were designed and detailed by the landscape architect. The material palette selected was based upon whether their original source was sustainable, the lifespan of the material, and the ability of the material to be recycled. The result is a palette that has enhanced durability, is low in maintenance and is from local sources.

Project Significance

The significance of this project is quite substantial to the City of Minneapolis and has been widely publicized. The site development restores the connection from Downtown to the Mississippi River and provides significant urban and park spaces that were once associated with the Bridgehead Site. Public perception of this project has been very favorable, and the design team has been commended for the re-connection of the Downtown core and the Riverfront.

2001 Award Winners
Press Release
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