Local architects hope to ‘frame’ Marcy-Holmes

With neighborhood funding, Cuningham Group Architecture plans to install frames around the neighborhood to highlight its culture and history.

Rendering of frame scales that will go in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood.

Courtesy Cuningham Group Architecture

Rendering of frame scales that will go in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood.

Erin Wilson

The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood will accentuate areas of historical significance and engage the community as part of a creative project this summer. 

Local architects will set up different sized frames throughout the neighborhood in areas of cultural and historical interest this summer. In partnership with Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc., the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association’s Creative Placemaking Committee has allotted $1,800 for the project as part of its new micro-grant program. 

After beginning the planning stage earlier this month, the architectural team presented its ideas to the community at a MHNA general membership meeting April 16. The Cuningham Group will use community and city feedback to revise the project.

“I think we just kept seeing the value in the neighborhood and the history; … every time we went to a meeting or talked to someone, they always had a story to tell,” said Paul Brynestad, an architectural designer for Cuningham Group. “And so we wanted to literally frame each story so that it could be retold.”

With city approval, the architect team hopes to install medium-sized posts with multiple frames at neighborhood hot spots like the 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge. In addition to the posts, the project will also provide residents with hand-held frames for individual use and window stickers for local businesses to show their involvement.

Eventually, the team hopes to add large-scale frames to areas like the Stone Arch Bridge and Father Hennepin Bluff Park, but this would require additional funding outside of the micro-grant program.

Depending on where the frames are placed, the architectural team will need approval from jurisdictions including the city, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The frames will likely have an interactive fact engraved on them with scannable codes to link residents to historic photos of the same area or websites with more information.

“The posts or the frames might be more about highlighting what is important … to the history of the neighborhood,” said Cuningham Group architect Tyler Whitehead. “These frames become that element that ties … a student who has only lived here for three months to a resident who has lived here since 1960.”

Russ Belk, board member of Preserve Historic Dinkytown, said he likes the idea of a project that highlights the area’s history but is concerned there is not enough money to maintain the project over the years.

“They need more money to make this real. … I’m a little worried about the permanence of [it] for that small amount of money, and is there any maintenance money for [it] and any kind of  informational things that can go out and really let the community know what’s going on?” Belk said.

Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said the project is a great way to engage the community.

“I’m really pleased with the direction Cuningham is going in,” Lautenschlager said. “I look forward to seeing further improvements to their design. … It’s an intriguing project that tries to crack the nut of how to get people engaged and active within the community in unconventional ways.”