It's the ultimate recycling project.
A 280,000-pound skyway that once connected two downtown Minneapolis buildings will be transformed by a team of artists from Vancouver into an interactive art installation in Minneapolis, then head north later this summer where the 84-foot steel and glass structure will become a lakeside home for a young family in Brainerd.
"We are thrilled," said Ben Awes, an architect with CityDesk Studios. He and fellow architect Bob Ganser acquired the skyway nine years ago and have been searching ever since for a new use for the structure, which once crossed Fifth Street.
For a time, Ganser and Awes tried to sell the structure, but finding someone who could buy it and pay to move it proved futile. Several months ago, the duo put out a request for proposals that included paying someone $5,000 to remove it from its temporary site in a weed-strewn field near the University of Minnesota campus.
After a story in the Star Tribune about the duo's efforts to save the skyway from the scrap heap, Awes and Ganser received more than 100 proposals — ranging from a nightclub on wheels to a "sweet-ass mobile deer stand, complete with repurposed tank track wheels and a gun turret."
Ganser and Awes chose the idea that came from Aimee and Preston Jobe, who proposed using the building as a lakeside home near Brainerd. They hired CityDesk to transform the skyway into a living space and to design a new wing that will be attached to create an L-shaped structure.
"It's like a dream come true," said Aimee Jobe, a photographer who also owns an event center in a reclaimed brick-and-timber building in a Brainerd rail yard. "I'm a lover of old things, and I love to renovate things."
Before the skyway makes its way Up North sometime this summer, it will become the subject of an art installation being coordinated by a Vancouver collaboration called Dream the Combine. That project will be open to the public in Minneapolis from April 18 until early May.