Friday, June 28, 2013


On Monday, we had the great pleasure of having Tom Meyer, the lead architect of the Mill City Museum design, visit the class.  Tom walked the students through his progression from a young architecture student at the U of M to the building the museum. Much of his lecture focused around the idea of adaptive reuse and highlighted projects that incorporated sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. 

After the lecture, Tom invited us to visit his fim HS&R on the top floor of the  Washburn A Mill. He gave us a tour and showed us some of the projects that the firm is working on including a model for the U ofM's Bee Center. Thanks for the tour Tom!


Monday, June 24, 2013


We started the day with the an drawing exercise to get everyone thinking about future buildings in their communities. The class was spilt onto three groups. One person from each group was asked to draw while the others observed.  The participants rotated drawing and watching and talked about the buildings while they were being built.  Towards the end of the exercise, we encouraged the groups to connect the communities to one another. Overall it was a way for us to get the participants to start working as a collective.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


On four different major Minneapolis streets, the Minneapolis Bike Coalition shuts down traffic for a day so that residents can gather, get some exercise, participate in spontaneous play activities, and get to know one another. For more info check out Open Streets.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Secret City was a free festival of art and performance taking place outdoors and indoors on June 22d. The festival connected Minneapolis residents to forgotten city landscapes and imagines the future of our urban environment through art activities and events.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Today we started the class with an Urban Planning 101 presentation by Minneapolis City Planner Joe Bernard. Joe started the conversation by asking the students "Why did people start living together?" Collectively the group came up with food, protection, and social.

Joe also showed us an image of the ancient Greek city of Piraeus, a port city within the urban area of Athens.  The city was laid out by Hippodamus of Miletus, an architect, urban planner, physician, mathematician, meteorologist and philosopher and is considered to be the “father” of urban planning.‬ Piraeus was one of the first implementations of a grid in a city. 

One of the areas that Joe focused was the 70's development of the West Bank of Minneapolis.  Below is a slide that shows the larger plan for the area. Only a portion of it was built - Ralph Rapson's Riverside Plaza.  See Urban Renewal and Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970 (also know as New Town-In Town).
Riverside Plaza is composed of six buildings and has 1,303 residential units, making it the main feature of the city's Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Each building has a different height, intended to reflect the diversity of its population. Rapson was inspired by the time he spent in European cities, where people of different ages and levels of wealth coexisted in close quarters. The area was developed with support from the U.S. federal government's New Town-In Town program, and was originally planned to be part of a utopian design that would have seen 12,500 units spread across four neighborhoods housing a total of 30,000 people. Cedar Square West was the first project in the country to receive Title VII funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD), and it is the larger of only two New Towns-In Town that ultimately qualified for that program

After Joe's presentation, we talked about a design approach that I use as a roadmap for my projects. 

This part of the process involves identifying the problems, challenges, expectations and assets that you possess

Seek out information related to the topic

Come up with a variety of possible solutions and try them out

Time to take some of the successes in the experiment phase and put them to use in making something

Your project isn't finished till you share it with someone.

After talking through the process, we did a short exercise where the students brainstormed possible ideas for the projects.  They were asked to identify an audience that they felt was underserved and come up with ways to start a conversation with the community about historic properties.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Today we had the pleasure of participating in an urban planning workshop with urban planner and artist James Rojas.  James has travelled the world, from Compton to Berlin, facilitating discussions centered around community and planning.  This interaction was the perfect primer for the students to start thinking about how to get people in their own communities involved in city planning.  James' workshops also include a couple guiding questions. The questions that were posed to the students were"What would you preserve in your community?" and "What does this look like?"  What is brillant about James' approach are the tools that he uses – pipe cleaners, legos, plastic leaves, hair rollers, construction paper, and other colorful ephemera.  These allow the participants to use their creativity to construct landscapes and buildings that wouldn't be given in a verbal or written community meeting.

Here's some photos from our workshop. More can be found on our flickr site.