A citizen group that's advising the $10 million revamping of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is opting toward crossing its 16th-century formality with 21st-century sustainability.
That means reinforcing the formality of the garden's south end while leaving the garden's signature Spoonbridge and Cherry where it is. But it also means adding a wilder-appearing area at the garden's north end for both artwork and stormwater, and some potentially major changes for the heat-leaking glass conservatory.
The proposed new look for the north end would create three grassed circles with radii ranging from 45 to 75 feet in the middle of a meadow that will be sometimes wet, sometimes dry as runoff dictates. Stormwater improvements for the boggy site will bring up to $1.5 million in watershed funding atop $8.5 million the Legislature appropriated.
The conservatory also is likely to get a new look. Changes could range from improvements to existing features such as bathrooms and floors to removing the walls and heating system from throughout the energy-inefficient building.
Among the recommended changes from landscape architecture consultant Oslund and Associates and Snow Kreilich Architects are new entrances into the garden. The west side, now a parking lot, could get a school and tour bus drop-off area, with staging space for events. The north side could get a clearer entry off neighboring Dunwoody Boulevard. Bus riders on Lyndale Avenue would get a stairway at the southeast corner to replace paths they've worn. Pedestrians would get two ramps leading down from the Lyndale sidewalk through a hillside of floppy fescue grass.
The more formal south entrance would retain a central stairway flanked by accessibility ramps. It would lead to a walk of granite slabs recycled from elsewhere in the garden. More durable granite chips would replace the crushed limestone that's proven dusty as it crumbles. Other areas would keep sidewalks for wheelchair access and to support cranes to install artwork.
Project manager Dana Murdoch said the design concept will be refined for a final meeting of the citizen advisory committee that's scheduled for Feb. 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Walker Art Center. The plan then goes to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for public comment.
Fitting all those changes into the project budget will be challenging, representatives of the project team warned the advisory committee. "It's a series of choices," committee Chairwoman Margaret Anderson Kelliher said. "Some things may be done in the short term and others may have to wait."