A pair of New York architects hope to build an apartment building in south Minneapolis where families of all sizes could live and work together, a striking contrast to the design of many new apartment buildings.
Carl Koepcke and Jack Cochran of Urbain DRC in New York City submitted preliminary plans to the city seeking feedback on a five-story, mixed-use building north of the Midtown Greenway along 11th Avenue S.
“We wanted to provide people with a slightly different aesthetic,” Cochran said. “And to provide a new model for sustainable living in the city.”
Renderings show a glassy building composed of interlocking boxes, with each floor offset from another, creating outdoor terraces that are sheltered by the cantilevered section of the building above.
The apartments would be geared toward intergenerational families with flexible living spaces that could be connected to one another, and could expand or contract.
To cut down on commuting costs by enabling people to work from home, the main level has live-work townhouses. The building would also be next to the Greenway, enabling residents to commute via bike.
Sustainability is another high priority. Geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels and passive solar are all on the wish list. “The ultimate goal is to make this a net-zero project,” said Cochrane, meaning the building could produce all of its own energy needs.
The project, called Midtown Crossing, would include about 55 apartments and office/commercial space in a 60,000-square-foot building with about 55 underground parking stalls.
It would be built on land already owned by Carl Koepcke’s father but would need to incorporate other unspecified sites. Several of the adjacent parcels are zoned for two-family residential structures, so at a planning meeting Thursday the team will ask the city for feedback about whether rezoning might be possible to accommodate a taller and higher-density development that includes work space.
Input from the meeting will be used to refine the plans, which would be brought to another Committee of the Whole meeting at a later date.
Alex Haecker, a Twin Cities architect who has consulted with the team and helped design several mixed-use projects in the Twin Cities, said the building “is a break from the current model.”
“It’s not your traditional development,” he said. “It’s not going to be the typical box that’s going up today.”
The proposal comes at a time of growing debate about urban design in the Twin Cities, where thousands of apartments have been built over the past few years. Too many of those buildings, critics say, are clones of one another.
Haecker said that profit-motivated developers, rather than design-driven architects, drive the creative process.
“It’s a really interesting opportunity,” he said. “But there are still a lot of hurdles to get over.”