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Minneapolis Parks Foundation > Common Ground > Projects > RiverFirst > News Release: Design Team of Damon Farber Landscape Architects & HGA Recommended for Water Works Mezzanine Phase

News Release: Design Team of Damon Farber Landscape Architects & HGA Recommended for Water Works Mezzanine Phase

Selection Committee of MPRB, Minneapolis Parks Foundation and community representatives recommends design team to Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board of Commissioners, June 15

Minneapolis, Minn. – On Wednesday, June 15, the Board of Commissioners of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) will consider a recommendation to select a design team led by Minneapolis-based Damon Farber Landscape Architects (Damon Farber) and HGA, along with 106 Group, to lead final design and cultural resource consulting services for the “Mezzanine Phase” of Water Works. The Damon Farber team was selected from a pool of eight respondents to a March 2016 joint Minneapolis Parks Foundation-MPRB Request for Proposals; the 106 Group was selected via a second cultural resources-specific RFP and will be incorporated into the Damon Farber-led team.

Water Works is a dramatic park development project that will artfully stitch downtown Minneapolis to the Mississippi River. The project will create a cultural and recreational destination that builds on the site’s rich milling history, dramatic setting, and urban riverfront milieu to provide a one-of-a-kind experience at St. Anthony Falls. Water Works is a signature project of RiverFirst, a cooperative initiative to transform the Minneapolis Riverfront with connected riverfront parks and miles of new trails.

“It is very gratifying for the Minneapolis Park Board to be on the cusp of realizing a 30-year vision for the Mill Ruins Park area and its magnetic features of St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge,” says Jayne Miller, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. “The active partnership between the Park Board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, through nearly five years of intensive design work and comprehensive community engagement, has made this tremendous milestone possible. We’re very excited about what the future holds for the Central Riverfront.”

Land acquisition and development of regional park initiatives, such as RiverFirst and Water Works, is primarily funded through generous philanthropic partner donations, close agency partnerships such as the one with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, and allocations from the State of Minnesota and Federal Government.

“The visionary investment by the Twin Cities philanthropic community, made through the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, has made it possible for the Minneapolis Park Board to take this significant step,” says Tom Evers, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. “The team of Damon Farber, HGA and partners has a track record of artfully harmonizing historic and modern features with the natural landscape that’s truly worthy of Minneapolis parks and this historic place.”

Mezzanine Phase Schematic Design and Construction Administration
The Damon Farber team will complete schematic design through construction administration of the $10.87 million Mezzanine Phase of Water Works, which encompasses about 2.5 acres of the six-acre project area, from West River Parkway to 1St Street South, and Third Avenue to Portland Avenue.

In addition to Damon Farber, HGA, and 106 Group the team includes: BARR Engineering (stormwater management); Kimley Horn & Associates (civil/transportation engineering); MacDonald & Mack Architects (historic structures, cultural resources); Toole Design (wayfinding & signage); The Musicant Group (programming and activation); KidZibits (creative play); Water in Motion (irrigation design); Kvernstoen, Ronnholm & Associates (acoustics); Commercial Aquatic Engineering (aquatics); Robert Rippe (food service); Mortenson Construction (cost estimating); and Christine Baeumler with Mona Smith (public art).

“Water Works is poised to become an extraordinary addition to the Mississippi Riverfront,” says Tom Whitlock, President of Damon Farber Landscape Architects. “Our team is thrilled by the opportunity to help vision and guide its transformation.”

Damon Farber is known for substantial public projects, such as the Minnesota Zoo and the University of Minnesota Biomedical Discovery District, that create a healthy and well-balanced interface between cultural and natural systems. Similarly, HGA is an award-winning firm known internationally for exquisite detailing on culturally significant projects, including the Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum and the forthcoming Walker Art Center Entry and Landscape Expansion.

Water Works Mezzanine Phase construction is slated to begin in 2017 and finalize in 2019. Construction of the later Riverside Phase of Water Works is anticipated 2021-2023. The design work of the Damon Farber team will refine construction timing and staging of details such as temporary street closures should they be necessary.

Upholding the site’s cultural and historical integrity
The Water Works concept calls for unearthing and protecting the site’s historic mill ruins, while establishing a harmonious blend of natural and cultural features. Planned parkway and trail realignment will improve mobility throughout the site, which already sees nearly 2.5 million visits annually. A park pavilion will provide needed year-round amenities for the district, which encompasses popular attractions, including St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge.

The Minneapolis Park Board approved the Water Works concept in 2015, from a design created by New York-based SCAPE Landscape Architects in 2014. Also in 2015, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation launched the $15 million RiverFirst Capital Campaign, through which the philanthropic community is playing a significant role in bringing RiverFirst projects, including Water Works, to life.

About the Minneapolis Parks Foundation
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is an independent, donor-supported nonprofit that brings visionary leadership, philanthropic investment and private sector expertise to support innovation and equity throughout the Minneapolis park system. It co-leads the RiverFirst Initiative with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and is responsible for private fundraising and implementation of the Water Works and 26th Ave N to Ole Olson projects. MPF supports innovative Minneapolis parks projects through equity funding and champions world-class design through its Next Generation of Parks™ Lecture Series. Get involved at

About the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is an independent, semi-autonomous body responsible for the Minneapolis park system. With 179 park properties totaling 6,801 acres of land and water, the Park Board provides places and recreation opportunities for all people to gather and engage in activities that promote health, wellbeing, community and the environment. More than 21 million annual visits are made to the nationally acclaimed park system. Its Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, neighborhood parks, recreation centers and diversified programming have made the park system an important component of what makes Minneapolis a great place to live, play and work. Visit for details.

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