Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Strib on "Minnesota Moderne"

Linda Mack of the Strib has put together a piece on the new Chambers Hotel, as well as a short overview of some of the other snazzy hotel projects going in Minneapolis. (Like many Strib articles this one will likely disappear soon, so get it while it lasts.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Saint Paul: No Bridges to the Future

The St. Paul Planning Commission has rejected a request for a zoning change for The Bridges of Saint Paul, the proposed $1.5 billion development on the south shore of the Mississsippi. While this should allow those of us in Minneapolis to remain smug about being the only ones with a downtown, as a friend of the Cities it's disappointing to see the commission shoot down this opportunity. (Not all is lost, however. The developer is appealing to the city council.)

The comparisons to the St. Anthony Main, the tepid Mississippi development across from downtown Minneapolis, seem fairly unfounded. St. Anthony Main has always felt cheap and cobbled together--an urban mall where none was needed--but what is proposed in St. Paul appears to be a relatively well-thought-out mixed-use development. While not being a direct rip-off by any stretch, it's somewhat evocative of Kansas City's Country Club Plaza (more at Wikipedia). While KC overall is somewhat of a train wreck, the Plaza is fantastic, and a city like St. Paul should be able to grow off the Bridges, unlike KC has done with the relatively isolated Plaza.

* * *

I hate to say it, but it looks like I actually agree with Joe Soucheray on this one.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Uptown's Mozaic to Include Graves Hotel

Uptown's Mozaic development is going to include a new hotel from Graves, the same group that brought us the highly-regarded Graves 601 hotel in Block E. I'm not sure if a hotel was always planned as part of Mozaic, but if not, I guess it's a good way to deal with the condo bubble.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Minneapolis Condo Hotel Boom

The Downtown Journal has two hotel-related articles worthy of note this week, one on the pending opening of the Chambers Hotel and another on the possible conversion of the Foshay Tower to a W hotel.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ralph Rapson and the old Guthrie

With the opening of the new Guthrie Theater this weekend, Minnesota Public Radio has a short article on the building that's being left behind, its pending demolition, and its architect.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

New Wing Opens at the MIA

It was opening weekend for the Minneapolis Institute of Art's Target wing this weekend, so the significant-other and I trekked over there to check it out. Overall, my feelings about the expansion are somewhat mixed. I love the MIA, and am proud to be a member, but am disappointed in the new wing of the building. I really whish I could write glowingly about it, but I can't.

According to the grand opening pamphlet handed out to visitors, "the building, designed by celebrated American architect Michael Graves, is itself a work of art--forming an aesthetic bridge between the neoclassical elegance of the original 1915 McKim, Mead and White-designed Building and the Stark minimalism of the 1974 Kenzo Tange-designed addition."

Unfortunately, it doesn't really do anything of the sort. The design clashes Tange addition--and not in a way that's good or interesting--and at best is a disrespectful parody of the McKim, Mead building. While a lot of people probably find the Tange addition ugly, it at least went to great lengths to be respectful and even deferential to the original building. (In many ways, the Tange addition acted as near-literal bookends to the first building.)

In fairness, the space in which the new addition was placed didn't allow it to take an elegant of an approach as was available with the first addition. But still, the new addition looks more like a rogue appendage than a meaningful part of the museum. Even the stone covering the new addition clashes with everything else; instead of coming off as a new part of the MIA, it says, hey, look, I'm a new Michael Graves building! While he's still a trendy architect, I suspect most of his stuff is going to look ridiculous in just a decade or so.

Which brings us to the interior. The focal point of the new addition, the atrium, is uninspiring and cheap-looking. At best, it looks like the interior of some college library somewhere, at worst, the court of an upscale shopping mall. The ceiling "sky" appears to have been sponged on, something up to this point I thought was mostly reserved for the bedrooms of college or high-school art students. At least we won't have to worry about it beginning to look dated, as it looks dated now.

Thankfully, there is a bright side in the fantastic amount of new gallery space. (Mercifully, the new galleries are practically indistinguishable from most of those in the old building.) According to the MIA, exhibition space has increased by 40%, and as a result what Minneapolis now has is not just a fantastic, diverse art museum, but one that is now unequivocally world-class. After spending a few hours there this afternoon, Lisa and I decided that we'd have to come back some weekend when the crowds have receded somewhat and we can spend five or six hours wandering its halls. For all practical purposes its a new museum, and it deserves to be treated as such.

I just wish the new addition was better.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

MegaMall X 2

The Mall of America has filed development plans with the city of Bloomington for its long-awaited Phase II. The plan includes a waterpark, a Bass Pro Shops store, a number of hotels, office space, and a performing arts center, which could end up being a new home to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Crosstown Reconstruction: It Begins With Condemnation

And so it begins. The StarTribune has a story today on businesses and homeowners who have to make way for an expanded Crosstown Commons. Maps of the affected areas are available on MnDOT's website.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

New Development and Urban Parks

The PiPress has a story today on how the 'burbs frequently require developers to set aside green space with new developments, but Minneapolis and St. Paul usually do not. Both cities seem to be looking to require more green space with future developments, however.

Friday, January 13, 2006

University Ave. Streetcar Rails Can't Carry LRT

The Strib is reporting that the long-buried streetcar rails on University Avenue can't be reused for light rail. That's unfortunate, but you have to give transit officials credit for at least looking into it.