The past decade saw rapid changes to the Twin Cities’ literal landscape, from the light rail to all the luxury high-rise condos. This coming decade is sure to be no different, with countless developments already in the pipeline. And with so much on the horizon, executive vice president of AIA Minnesota Mary-Margaret Zindern and editor of AIA Minnesota’s Architecture MN Chris Hudson cued us in on some projects and key takeaways the Metro should be keeping on eyes for the next 10 years.
The St. Paul skyline may be seeing a change, with the $788 million proposed Ramsey County development including four towers that will house condos, apartments, and hotel rooms. The project also includes plans to expand public access to the riverfront.
“The riverfront right at downtown St. Paul is another major development effort that we’re keeping an eye on. And we have a number of architects in the St. Paul area that are watching that keenly, and I believe have been involved in those processes as well—whether it’s in engaging with city officials, or otherwise being part of the processes that have led to some of those initial visions of what could be there,” Zindern says.
Towerside Innovation District
Stage: Expected completion 2021
Multiple facets of the Towerside projects have already been completed since it took off in 2013, with the collaborative development of the 370-acre district focusing on creating a diverse, equitable, and sustainable community.
“The Towerside area of Minneapolis is a project that has been in the works for a number of years now and is poised to really take off over the course of the next decade, and architects have been involved in the visioning, and planning, and implementation stages,” Zindren says. “So, that’s been a long-term engagement, really of architects who live in that neighborhood, sort of taking on that citizen architect role in a real way.”
Stage: Proposed, voting and public input pending
Envisioned by RSP Architects, the Wishbone project is a proposed V-shaped promenade that would bridge the Mississippi River and overlook St. Anthony Falls. The Hennepin County Board and public heard the official presentation of the project in January, and the river development is in the very preliminary stages of seeking approval and feedback.
“So, that would go over the falls and create a moment––actually a number of community engagement possibilities that are in very close proximity to the falls in a way that people are not able to experience now,” Zindren says. “That’s going to be an exciting project to see where that goes.”
Stage: Phase 1 completion for 2020, Phase 2 completion for 2023
Overlooking St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, the Water Works is a facet of the RiverFirst initiative focused on revitalizing 11 miles of the riverfront. The site will also house The Sioux Chef, which will not only bring Indigenous cuisine to the space, but also educational opportunities.
“It will be this public plaza, this huge set of steps that are meant for people to stop and relax at. And I believe the restaurant that’s being developed there is leveraging the ruins of a building,” Zindren says. “But that project is really going to be something special along the river.”
Stage: Construction expected to begin soon
With an $80 million renovation of the mall just completed, Rosedale Center recently announced plans in the works for a large expansion project creating a lifestyle hub including housing, offices, restaurants, and hotels.
“A number of the suburban cities are looking at how big-box retail spaces and malls could be redeveloped in new ways,” Zindren says. “As the retail landscape literally shifts, it means that these structures either have to be repurposed in some way as they are or reused. Or it’s an opportunity for that land to be redeveloped. And from a climate impact standpoint, being able to repurpose an existing structure and fit it with climate friendly mechanicals and materials and operations, often is a much smaller footprint than razing a building and building a new one.”
Destination Medical Center
Stage: Implementation and construction
The 20-year $5.6 billion plan to promote economic development in Rochester and expand the Mayo Clinic started at the beginning of the 2010s and has continued to hurtle into the 2020s.
“They are well underway, a number of buildings within that grand plan have already been constructed. A lot of public spaces have been constructed, but there’s so much more to come there. And over the next I think that vision will be realized, and then we’ll start to see what the broader impact of that development project is on the community of Rochester and surrounding communities. And if it leads to the realization of light rail or other transportation solutions that better connect the Twin Cities to Rochester,” Zindren says.
Stage: Construction starting soon
In St. Paul’s Highland Park, a new neighborhood will be developed out of the former 122-acre Ford assembly plant. Planning has been in the works for several years, and the project is set to begin construction as soon as this spring.
“That’s been many, many years in the making, but is now poised to actually move forward over the course of the next decade,” Zindren says. “It’s a tremendous opportunity, and the more that all of these developments can be implemented with climate action and equity as core considerations, the more that we think the public will be well-served by their built environment.”
“It’s just a really rare opportunity to plan and design a larger community, you know, more than just a few blocks––a new neighborhood, really––from scratch. So, you can do a lot more infrastructure planning, green infrastructure planning, and kind of create a mix of uses that you want with the right calculation for housing, multi-family housing, and other mixed uses, that’s walkable, that’s tied into the city’s transit system with really nice amenities,” Hudson says.
Minneapolis Public Service Building
Stage: Construction near completion
Bringing the employees of the city of Minneapolis to one hub, the new building will be move-in ready by fall of this year. The focus of the design firms has been on sustainability, so they’re seeking LEED Gold Certification. Additionally, it will be a transit-connected building without parking underneath it.
“The Minneapolis Public Service building could be a bit of a game changer, it’s modeled a little differently,” Hudson says. “And one of the unique things is that for a building of its size it’ll have access to a garden terrace on every floor. So, it’s not one of these totally enclosed buildings where you’re just in a glass box. There’s going to be opportunity on each floor for government workers to get out on a terrace that’s inset, not like a balcony that comes out, but that’s kind of cut out of the building.”
Stage: Construction starting soon
An environmentally forward luxury condos made out of mass timber will be popping up in the North Loop soon, will be featuring a green roof, city views, and various 1–3 bedroom floor plans.
“TMBR, is going to be innovative,” Hudson says. “TMBR is a new multi-family project going up, it breaks ground very soon … And it looks cool.”
Stage: Construction started
The Gateway tower broke ground over the summer of 2019, and will be a 37-story mixed-use tower housing RBC Wealth Management’s world headquarters, private residencies, a hotel, and street-level retail. Completion is anticipated for 2022.
“The Gateway building is obviously going to be a bigger skyline impact,” Hudson says. Although the height has been significantly reduced from the original proposal of 80 stories.
Westwood Hills Nature Center
Stage: Construction, completion anticipated this year
The new Interpretive Center at Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park is an update to the current interpretive center, and will address the needs for programming and operational accommodations.
“A smaller notable project that’s coming online soon in the suburbs is that Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park, and the reason why that is going to be notable even for such a small building, is it will be the only zero-energy commercial building in the state, which is kind of remarkable, I think. I know we have a tough climate here for energy use, but the Science House at the Science Museum was the first, and it’s not even occupied every day, and it was completed almost 20 years ago. So, a zero-energy building in St. Louis Park kind of fits with their progressive climate action plan. They’re a pretty progressive community that way,” Hudson says.
Rice Creek Commons
The redevelopment of the former 427-acre Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site has been years in the works, and will include a mix of residential, commercial and public spaces. Bought by Ramsey County in 2013, the project will bring a range of housing options like senior living, affordable housing, and single family homes to the area.
“They’re planning that community from the ground up,” Hudson says. “If you look at Rice Creek Commons, it’s going to unfold more slowly than the Ford site will, but it will definitely be taking shape over the course of the next decade.”
North Loop Green
Still in the early stages of moving through the pipeline, the project, developed by Hines, would be a mixed-use space providing residential units, office space, retail space, and parking.
“That’s going to be a really large project, two different towers,” Hudson says. “It’s going to be kind of cool-looking, where one whole floor extends from one tower to another across a little plaza. And that’s going to be right on Target Field Station, so that’s really transit connected as well, and will put a really high building there. It will certainly be a new view for people sitting in Target Field behind home plate.”
Iversen Center for Faith
Stage: Under construction
Part of the construction around St. Thomas and the Summit area, the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas expands to include underground facilities like a gallery, meditation room, and gathering room.
“The Iversen Faith Center is pretty unique, at least the original drawings and plans for it that were approved. It’s sort of an underground building that creates a park, green space on top of it, and then there are little amphitheaters around it,” Hudson says. “I don’t know if that design could change a little bit. But at least the original plans for the Iversen Faith Center were really progressive for that campus, and created some interesting topography around the big church, and created some interesting landscapes.”
With the need and demand for affordable housing following us out of the 2010s, more tangible results of action will be seen in the coming years.
“I think over the next few years we’ll start to see the realization of the dollars that the state and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and cities all over the state, have been putting toward affordable housing,” Zindren says. “I think there’s going to be a large volume of small to mid-scale developments, because the need is so great, and the desire for affordable housing to be available in all parts of the metro and throughout the state.”
The city of Minneapolis declared a climate emergency and promised action related to that at the end of 2019, and already several projects like TMBR and the new Minneapolis Public Service Building are focused on sustainability.
“I think this next decade is going to be very focused on bringing climate-oriented materials and structural solutions to bear. Architects have that as a priority, and owners are increasingly seeing this as a priority, and I think in the next decade, the abilities, the knowledge, the innovative solutions that architects can bring forward will become more and more realized as owners, including cities, counties, and the state invest even more in sustainable resilience and even regenerative architecture solutions,” Zindren says.
As with affordable housing, the demand for senior housing is enormous as the boomer generation gradually transitions to senior living spaces.
“The boomers are a big generation, and there is a trend toward being in the city, downtown, and not in these green fields on the excerpts anymore, so a lot of them want to be where they can take a bus, or walk to things. And I know that there’s a lot of senior housing projects going on in Minneapolis in particular,” Hudson says.
There’s a focus architecturally on building high quality senior and affordable housing that are climate resistant and won’t be torn down in a couple decades, Hudson adds.
There are a number of luxury condominiums on the way for this decade, but how much longer the luxury housing trend will continue has a more elusive outlook.
“The luxury stuff, that’s a bigger question. It’s going to track with the economy for sure, wherever the economy goes. But it’s also so much has been built, one wonders if that’s not going to have a big slow-down soon,” Hudson says. “It’s hard to tell if we’re in the middle or at the end of a housing boom in Minneapolis.”
The reverberating effect of Allianz Field in the Midway neighborhood is still being seen, and the concerns and questions of development progressing there over the next years will be something to keep close tabs on.
“That’s undoubtedly over time going to have a bigger impact––bad and good. And I can’t quite tell. I hope the developers are listening to the people who live in that neighborhood, because that changed that neighborhood dramatically,” Hudson says. “One hopes they don’t displace what’s there, and at the same time, that community deserves some investment and that’s a tough one and it’ll just have to be handled right. But that neighborhood, Midway, is just going to change and continue to change.”
Minneapolis Parks Revitalization
The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board has master plans for development and improvements with many facets currently underway, and more to come.
“Minneapolis Parks are being sort of re-envisioned,” Zindren says. “They’re in a public input phase related to the future of the parks system in Minneapolis. So, over the next decade I think there’s more to come there in terms of new developments and amenities, especially with an eye toward equity in those projects.”