Celebrating bridge-building: Two successful days of events featuring Leila Araghian, architect of Tabiat “Nature” Bridge

September 13, 2016 by Janette Law

There are few better ways to start a Thursday morning than watching the sun rise over the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline.

That’s exactly what nearly 300 parks supporters did last Thursday, September 8, for the second annual Sunrise on the Mississippi breakfast benefit for the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. This first event kicked off two days of celebrating bridge-building – those we make between ourselves and others and those created by visionary architects like Leila Araghian, the keynote speaker for Sunrise and the opening night speaker for our 2016-2017 Next Generation of Parks™ Lecture Series, on Friday, September 9.

Araghian’s Tabiat “nature” pedestrian bridge in Tehran has sparked a new wave of community connection by becoming the place in Tehran to visit, stay, and socialize with friends – old and new. Parks and other public spaces are the site of such interactions all over the world, and the most dynamic of these are often created by designers who champion the importance of creating common ground through inspiring places. By bringing Araghian to Minneapolis, we hope to spark renewed energy around the role of parks in building bridges – literal and figurative – in Minneapolis.

Sunrise a great success

The Sunrise breakfast was a reminder to me of how many people care deeply about this city and our parks. On behalf of the Board and staff, we want to thank everyone who joined us and supported the Minneapolis Parks Foundation.

In his remarks, R.T. Rybak challenged us to be the generation that finally achieves the vision of connecting the Mississippi River to north and northeast Minneapolis through new parks and connected trails. And from Leila Araghian, we saw how new, imaginative public spaces can transform our experience of the city and each other.

We want to extend a thank you to our artists in residence, BRLSQ Public Works who created a fantastic mural of the river during our event. The connection between art and public space is inseparable and we’re grateful to have them add to our event. The final mural is pictured in the gallery and available for purchase by email.

We’re also grateful to our volunteers who helped make the event a success, including those from General Mills who introduced many to the exciting Water Works 3D animation video the General Mills Foundation created.

We raised more than $55,000 at Sunrise and started many conversations about the important work related to RiverFirst and the RiverFirst Capital Campaign. Thank you!

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Inspiration takes hold at Next Generation of Parks™ event

Parks supporters and fans of great design filled the Best Buy Theater at Northrop Auditorium to hear Leila Araghian speak on Friday evening. The opening night of the Next Generation of Parks™ was presented by Minnesota Public Radio and featured MPR arts reporter Marianne Combs as an astute and welcoming host and interviewer.

The conversation ranged from how Araghian was chosen as the architect of the bridge, to the decisions that went into how shapes and materials and even lighting were chosen. Perhaps the most compelling moment was Araghian’s response to a question about her favorite memory from the bridge, which she answered with a story about a message she received via Facebook: An Iranian expatriate wrote to her and thanked her for designing the Tabiat. His mom, whom he hadn’t seen in some time, had just called him from there and “she sounded so happy.”

These are the kinds of moments that unfold so often – and often go untold – in our parks and public spaces, but these moments are part of the reason why parks are so important to our city.

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Sunrise on the Mississippi

Bremer Bank • Damon Farber Landscape Architects
Barr Engineering • BKV Group • CenterPoint Energy • Coen & Partners
Cynthia Froid Group • ESG Architects • First Avenue & 7th St. Entry
HGA Architects & Engineers • LBJ Solutions • Minneapolis Downtown Council
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board • NTH • The Minneapolis Foundation
United Properties

Table Hosts
Dorothy Bridges • John Crosby • Mary Daschner and Dan Chowen • Caren Dewar
Sarah Duniway and David Brauer • Nazie Eftekhari • Meg Forney
Joe Gibbons and Barbara Bencini • Liz and Van Hawn • Sarah Harris • Mark Heithoff
Steve King and Susan Boren • Mary McCarthy • Tom Paul • Paul Reyelts
Frank and Frances Wilkinson

Next Generation of Parks™ Lecture Series Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor:
Minnesota Public Radio

Produced in Partnership With:
Walker Art Center • University of Minnesota Department of Landscape Architecture

With Additional Support From:
Cynthia Froid Group


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