Meeting of architectstargets nearby riverfront

Chris Vetter

Some people look at the Mississippi River banks and see vacant lots and unused buildings. Others see potential for development.
Architects from across the United States met Thursday at the Whitney Hotel to present proposals for the riverfront’s improvement to the Minneapolis City Council.
The section of riverfront they discussed is a strip of land approximately one-half mile wide immediately north of the University’s East and West Bank campuses, stretching from Third Avenue South to Highway 35W.
Fourteen organizations and architectural firms presented proposals at the meeting, which was sponsored by the Cuningham Group, a Minneapolis architectural firm. In addition to numerous American companies, a firm from the Netherlands also attended the meeting.
Some proposals called for destroying currently vacant flour mills, while others intended to leave them as ruins. Some plans proposed building homes and neighborhoods along the riverfront, and others advocated creating a park. One plan, by Peter Cavaluzzi of New York City, had a lake surrounding the Metrodome and draining into the Mississippi.
The proposals were organized and put in a book titled “The Minneapolis Riverfront: Vision and Implementation.” The book was presented at the meeting to Minneapolis City Council members Joe Biernat and Joan Campbell.
“We are here today because we are real excited about these proposals,” Biernat said. “This will promote tourism and bring a focus to the city.”
Although the council has expressed interest in improving the riverfront, it has not yet made a commitment to any plan and reserves the right not to do so. However, Biernat said the plans presented Thursday would be examined closely.
Paul Farmer, the director of Minneapolis city planning, said he was very interested in the proposals.
“We are looking at this piece of riverfront where revitalization hasn’t reached,” Farmer said.
Although the focus is to build better communities, not all of the proposals will get off the drawing board. And even though some considered it an interesting idea, putting a moat around the Metrodome is not an immediate future plan for the city of Minneapolis.
“These aren’t plans that should be done, (they are) 14 creative plans to show what could be done,” said Barbara Lukermann of the Humphrey Institute.
Victor Caliandro, director of urban designs for the Cuningham group, said he hoped the city would draw something from all the plans.
“I don’t think they will select one plan,” Caliandro said. “This is the springboard toward a definite plan.”