U offers shady comfort at fair

Emma Carew

Fresh-squeezed lemonade chocolate chip engineer. Two professors farm owned. Translucent deep-fried Reuben on a stick. Dairy goats fun for all ages.

It might sound like gibberish, but it could lead to a newfound friendship.

A new partnership forged by the University’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the Minnesota State Fair provided 2005 fair-goers with a new and innovative place to rest during the hot, hazy days of the “Great Minnesota Get-Together.

This shaded area included panels that are engraved with factoids and quotes, which can be turned into gibberish by simply rearranging the seating. The benches allow for groups of people to sit together and face each other.

The feature, on the east side of Carousel Park, was shaded and offered moveable seating to help fairgoers cool down from the summer heat. The polycarbonate benches were designed to promote social interaction and engage people who might not otherwise strike up a conversation, said Wynne Yelland, an adjunct faculty member who worked on the project.

The base of the shelter is a concrete pad that grass can grow through. The shelter allows water running off the roof to drain directly into the grass, Yelland said.

A team of 11 graduate students worked with adjunct faculty members, Paul Neseth and Yelland, to design and build the shelter.

“It was a win-win for all involved,” said Thomas Fisher, dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

“Our students got hands-on experience close to the campus, the University got to show the people of Minnesota the innovative work of our students and faculty, and the state fair got useful structures, while also meeting its educational role.”

The students’ design utilized as few materials as possible, trying to stay true to the State Fair’s roots as an agrarian movement, he said.

According to graduate student J Chesnut, one of the 11 students in the studio class, the shelter’s shading component was designed so people would be encouraged to move the benches as the angle of the sun changed throughout the day.

The students have affectionately dubbed their project “The Great Minnesota Sit-Together,” a play off the State Fair’s better-known alternative title, Chesnut said.

Kinzie Foss, promotions intern at a nearby KFAN radio booth, said people often look at the benches and wonder.

“People are sitting on them all the time,” she said.

Tom Anderson, a fairgoer from Sauk Centre, Minn., said there’s never enough seating at the fair.

“Whenever they can get seating with shade it’s a good thing.”