10 Years of Next Generation of Parks Events: Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition, January 2010
January 30, 2020 by Janette Law
Not long after the first lecture series in the spring and summer of 2009, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation partnered with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition (MRDC). The most ambitious Next Generation of Parks effort to date, the design competition – which was co-sponsored by the Walker Art Center and the University of Minnesota College of Design – sought to reimagine the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront, from the Stone Arch Bridge to the city’s northern limits.
More than 55 teams from 14 countries on five continents responded to the competition request for qualifications; from that pool, four finalists presented a very special Next Generation of Parks event to an overflow crowd at the Walker, on January 27, 2010.
The finalist teams were led by Ken Smith Workshop (Brooklyn), Stoss Landscape and Urbanism (Boston), and Turenscape (Beijing), as well as TLS Landscape Architecture (Berkeley)/Kennedy and Violich Architecture. The latter won the MRDC on the strength of the RiverFirst concept, which addresses 21st-century challenges including ecological heritage, green economy, urban food systems, and mobility and transportation.
The Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition was at the leading edge of a renewed city- and region-wide focus on redesigning public spaces. It was also the precursor of what we now know as the RiverFirst Initiative, which includes two new Upper Riverfront parks now – or very nearly – underway: Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway Overlook. Additional projects encompassed within the RiverFirst scope are the Northeast Trail, Hall’s Island, Graco Park, and the future park at the Upper Harbor Terminal site.
In many ways the MRDC event was the apex of the early vision of the Next Generation of Parks – bringing boundary-bursting park design ideas to Minneapolis. Ten years on, that ethos is very much in the program’s DNA, but it also grown to encompass so many more issues that intersect with our parks. Case in point? The two events we’re hosting this season, featuring renowned honey bee expert Dr. Marla Spivak (February 27 at the Walker) and Hip Hop architect and theorist Dr. Craig Wilkins (May 7 at Mill City Museum). Join us!
Featured image: Design teams photographed on stage at the Walker, January 2010