Streetscapes: Celebrating Minnesota architecture

Streetscapes is a column devoted to Minnesota architecture. Each Saturday, a variety of writers will critique, explore and explain the built environment, from brand new buildings to revered older ones. Send suggestions for future topics to or tweet @ClaudePeck.

October 14, 2017
The TCF atrium has been brightened up for a new decade. You can sit on the steps ... or sit on the chairs.

How to — and how not to — update old buildings in downtown Minneapolis

Our take on three redesigned spaces in downtown Minneapolis.
October 6, 2017
The names of new apartment buildings are vague and pretentious, but that’s nothing new.

Why are some new Twin Cities apartment building names so pretentious?

Yes, the names of new apartment buildings are pretentious. But they've always been so.
September 23, 2017
An exhibit at the Goldstein Museum of Design shows how Dutch policies promote housing that caters to diverse uses and income levels.

Does Netherlands hold key to diversity needs in Twin Cities housing?

Twin Cities housing doesn't meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. The Netherlands may be a model.
September 15, 2017
This photo of Pillsbury Hall was taken on Sept. 19, 1926.

Pillsbury Hall, U's second-oldest building, is in line for $36M in TLC

After years of failing to make the cut, the beloved building at the University of Minnesota finally is on the shortlist for renovation funding.
September 8, 2017
Marquette between 7th and 6th.

Streetscapes: Marquette Avenue block's quiet history

Are you having trouble placing this block of old Minneapolis? It’s Marquette Avenue between 6th and 7th streets. But it’s almost impossible to recognize it…
September 1, 2017
Garbage bins line Twin Cities alleys.

We can improve the alleys in the Twin Cities, but only if we really want to

We could improve city alleys by turning them into shared green spaces — or just by cleaning them up.
August 26, 2017
Residence of John Crosby.

Minneapolis was once home to dozens of mansions built by flour-dusted elite

In the late 19th century, if you owned a flour mill or two in Minneapolis, the chances were quite good that you built a mansion somewhere along or near 10th Street.
August 18, 2017
The Commons park is part of the East Town area of downtown Minneapolis. A new study of the area calls for a return to a walkable neighborhood.

Bold new plan re-envisions Park and Portland avenues in downtown Minneapolis

Today, there's little reason to get out of your car near Park and Portland avenues in downtown Minneapolis, aside from the new Commons park. But a walkable neighborhood is worth bringing back. And that's what BKV Group hopes to do.
Stage & Arts
August 13, 2017
“Love Power” Jesus mural in Minneapolis’ West Bank neighborhood in 2017

Minneapolis' landmark Jesus mural is crumbling — can it be saved?

One of Minneapolis' most prominent public paintings is falling apart. An anonymous donor recently gave the church $1,000 to "beautify" the mural.
St. Paul
August 11, 2017
What you can — and cannot — see in the renovation of State Capitol

What you can — and cannot — see in the renovation of State Capitol

For the past three years, the Minnesota State Capitol has been undergoing a massive, $310 million renovation. But many of the improvements to the 1905 building won't be visible. Here's an inside look.
July 28, 2017
The exterior of the People’s Church in St. Paul, top, was unusual for a church, with no tower or steeple, and white stone embedded at random in the

St. Paul's early and unusual megachurch went up in flames – twice

Built on personality rather than doctrine, the massive People's Church defied design norms for the late 19th century.
Stage & Arts
July 21, 2017
Past meets present: Water would once again entertain kids in Peavey Plaza as it did in 1975.

Redo of Peavey Plaza in Mpls. preserves and updates once-popular park

It wasn't easy, but the city of Minneapolis has landed on a design to update the aging outdoor park while maintaining its modernist integrity.
July 8, 2017
Nicollet Avenue, between 6th and 7th Streets, offers a bustling retail scene in 1960.

Block-by-block photo survey in 1960 shows Minneapolis' thriving retail scene

A 1960 photo survey by the Star and Tribune of the city block where City Center now stands left a remarkable account of what Minneapolis looked like at a time when the urban core was aging, but still vital.
Stage & Arts
June 3, 2017
Frank Lloyd Wright designed several iconic structures in the state, including the Elam house in Austin.

Frank Lloyd Wright's surviving Minn. structures are a tribute to his legacy

Frank Lloyd Wright designed few buildings in Minnesota, but they proved to be essential to his career and his legacy.
May 6, 2017
The Continental Hotel in downtown Minneapolis was once an apartment house, but now is run by a firm that provides housing to the homeless.

Before they were dives, Twin Cities apartment hotels were posh, had room service

Before apartment buildings sprang up by the hundreds, there was a different kind of multifamily housing.
Home & Garden
April 28, 2017
The roomy homes of Warman Block were demolished in 1953.

Lost Twin Cities: Rare today, row houses were once a common sight here

Most of them fell into disrepair and were demolished before their unique structure gained appreciation.
April 14, 2017
Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis.

Minneapolis city parks evolved from a master plan to link people, places

Farview, Powderhorn and Loring parks were keystones in a remarkable plan for the Minneapolis park system.
Stage & Arts
April 7, 2017
Townhomes in the Birnamwood neighborhood in Burnsville, designed by architect Michael McGuire.

1960s Burnsville townhouse development is still stylish today

The metro area's original suburban townhouse developments — including this south suburban treasure — yield design lessons for their contemporary counterparts.
March 31, 2017
Clark Dobbs of the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology in 1994 at the construction site of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Beneath our feet lies a record of how Twin Citians once lived

There's no pirate booty hidden below the parking lots of Minneapolis and St. Paul. But for urban archaeologists, there's treasure just the same.
March 24, 2017
The Phoenix building at 4th Street and Marquette Avenue in Minneapolis, circa 1960s.

Lost Twin Cities: The rise and fall of Minneapolis' Phoenix Building

Minneapolis' Phoenix Building, which roosted for almost 70 years at the northwest corner of 4th Street and Marquette Avenue, was much like the mythical bird.
March 17, 2017
A row of modular shops on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis.

Small shops help make the Twin Cities vibrant, affordable and dynamic

The Twin Cities has a history of thinking big when it comes to retail. Maybe we should be thinking small.
March 10, 2017
All eyes on construction: In 1957, New York City Sidewalk Superintendents took advantage of the special holes built into walls surrounding constructio

From first shovel to opening day, watching a building go up is an urban pleasure

We all know about the hard-hats, draftsmen and architects. But is there someone else indispensable to the skyscraper-building process? Of course. The Sidewalk Superintendents.
Stage & Arts
March 1, 2017
The Curling Clubhouse Ice Shanty was part of the annual Art Shanty Project in 2014.

Ice Shanty Projects make a fun, meltable community on White Bear Lake

The Art Shanty Projects reveal what it takes to make a lively public space — people, engagement and activity.
February 24, 2017
Jan and Art Larson on the balcony of their downtown Minneapolis condo.

What helps Minnesota seniors age in place? U researcher has some clues

Researcher finds it's the little things — like benches and safe crosswalks — that make life better for aging Minnesotans.
February 17, 2017
Commuters use the skyway to make their way over 7th Street in downtown St. Paul on Thursday afternoon.

Twin Cities visitors and locals need better way to negotiate skyways

Wouldn't it be nice if there were an app for the Twin Cities' skyways? There is. In fact, there are several. Let's see how they work.
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