New bridge combines form with function

Frank Lloyd Wright died 40 years ago, but his designs will live on in Minneapolis. One of the three bridges he designed will soon be built in the downtown area. The city of Minneapolis has selected a bridge Wright designed in 1937 to replace the existing Third Avenue South bridge over Interstate 94. The bridge will be the centerpiece of the city’s efforts to remodel Third Avenue and will be a distinguishing landmark as well.
The choice of Wright’s design is laudable for several reasons. Third Avenue will soon be renamed Avenue of the Arts in recognition of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Children’s Theatre and the Minneapolis Convention Center, which are all located on the street. The inclusion of a design by the most important American architect will enhance the city’s efforts to create an important cultural artery. Additionally, Wright was the pioneer of prairie school architecture, a distinct style native to the Midwest. Building his bridge will further solidify this regional style.
The decision to place the bridge on Third Avenue is also well-advised. The Avenue of the Arts will add an extension of downtown into the historic Steven’s Square neighborhood and might also enhance an economically distressed area to the east. The well-designed bridge will be appreciated by both residents and visitors.
By choosing Frank Lloyd Wright’s bridge, Minneapolis is proving that appealing design can be functional as well.