Streetscapes: Celebrating Minnesota architecture

Streetscapes is a column devoted to Minnesota architecture. Writers critique, explore and explain the built environment, from brand-new buildings to revered older ones.

February 1
The 12-story Nicollet Hotel, shown in 1987, was the first building in Minneapolis to be built in the set-back style that gets narrower at the top.

Once-chic Nicollet Hotel in Mpls. Gateway District was design 'triumph'

Rising on the site of the 1858 Nicollet House, the hotel was financed by the public, and torn down in 1991. United Properties has proposed a 33-story glass office tower for the site.
January 18
Frederick W. Clifford residence at 325 Clifton Avenue in Minneapolis.

Now-lost Mpls. mansion was a sterling example of Tudor Revival style

Massive Tudor Revivals were once common in the Twin Cities. This Loring Park gem was one of the best.
January 11
The doors at St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis.

Beautiful doors on Twin Cities buildings make a statement

Though they're often overlooked, doors reveal a lot about a building and its era.
January 4
The Ryan Hotel at 6th and Robert Sts. in St. Paul, approximately 1913.

Downtown St. Paul's biggest loss? Extravagant Ryan Hotel was a Victorian masterpiece

St. Paul's Ryan Hotel, demolished in the early 1960s, was a classic example of Victorian excess.
December 28, 2018
Between 1964 and 1973 Midwest Federal created these bold round banks in Twin Cities suburbs.

Banking boom brought flair to midcentury Minnesota bank buildings

Many banks in Minnesota now have new uses, but their original designs give them away.
December 22, 2018
Final days: The Metropolitan Building, shortly before its demolition in 1961.

New book by Larry Millett brings mighty Metropolitan Building back to life

Architectural historian Larry Millett reveals the history of a long-lost Minneapolis landmark in his new book, "Metropolitan Dreams."
December 3, 2018
The Temple Court Building in Minneapolis was designed by E. Townsend Mix and completed in 1886.

Precursor to Mpls.' famed Metropolitan Building had dazzling inner court — and bad karma

E. Townsend Mix's Temple Court was a design warmup to Minneapolis' majestic Metropolitan.
November 23, 2018
John Cook, the Minneapolis architect who helped translate Frank Gehry’s ideas into steel, concrete and brick, looks back on the landmark project.

On Weisman's 25th birthday, Minn. architect explains how famous building took shape

The University of Minnesota's Frank Gehry-designed art museum is marking its quarter-century birthday this month.
Stage & Arts
November 16, 2018
Tristan Al-Haddad worked on his steel sculpture “Nimbus,” which will be installed in front of the Minneapolis Central Library on the Nicollet Mall

10-ton sculpture ready to swoop into Nicollet Mall

"Nimbus," a massive halo-like steel sculpture, will be the crowning touch of the remake of Nicollet Mall.
November 9, 2018
The midcentury skyscraper was severe but serene, unadorned and unconcerned with things like context or history. It was a machine for making money. If

How the shape of windows tells the history of Twin Cities architecture

Windows are more than just a means to bring in light and air; they're a way to read the style and technology of an era.
November 2, 2018
Some of the most beautiful parks are in small towns around the state.

Many Minnesota small towns boast small 'beauty spot' parks of yesteryear

Built in small towns around the state, they were designed to spark civic pride and growth.
Stage & Arts
October 26, 2018
Sky Bridge No. 1 crosses Marquette Avenue between Wells Fargo Center and Six Quebec

5 public places to discover the work of famed Minnesota artist Siah Armajani

Take a weekend field trip to explore public work by the artist behind the Sculpture Garden walking bridge.
October 20, 2018
“The Spinner,” a Calder sculpture commissioned by Dayton’s department store in downtown Minneapolis, has ended up in an overlooked location at t

Famed Calder sculpture once graced Nicollet Mall. Can't it return to its home?

A sculpture by Alexander Calder, now in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, originally was in downtown Minneapolis. It had been a victim of the newfangled skyway at the time.
October 12, 2018
The downtown Minneapolis skyline.

When big downtown Minneapolis buildings change names, it can be a confusing mess

Some have stood the test of time. Others have changed so many times we can't keep track.
October 5, 2018
St. Austin Catholic Church stood for only 25 years at the corner of Washburn and Dowling avenues in north Minneapolis.

North Minneapolis was once home to one of the world's most unique church buildings

The pastor of a modest Minneapolis parish helped create a unique, cosmopolitan church in north Minneapolis.
September 28, 2018
Pedestrians in downtown Minneapolis are guided or cautioned by a cacophony of disembodied voices.

Why Twin Cities walk signals and garage alerts should have Minnesota accents

Talking walk signals and parking garage alerts add to the urban cacophony. At least they could speak Minnesotan.
September 14, 2018
The newly renovated Parkway Theater.

Parkway Theater reopens in south Minneapolis with a much-needed face-lift

The 1940s-era neighborhood theater at 48th and Chicago has opened with a new mix of programming following a makeover.
August 31, 2018
The fair has no car traffic, yet there are streets and sidewalks.

Why the Minnesota State Fair could be a template for our future cities

We've got a model of the New Urbanism design movement right here in the Twin Cities: It's called the Minnesota State Fair.
August 24, 2018
A parade on 4th Street passing by the Grand Arcade in 1907. The towered building to the rear is the old St. Paul City Hall-Ramsey County Courthouse, r

St. Paul's Grand Arcade is out of sight, but not gone

One of downtown St. Paul's most intriguing lost buildings is the elaborate mixed-use structure also known as the Lowry Arcade.
August 17, 2018
A wide staircase at the new Manhattan headquarters of Delos Living, which created the Well Building Standard certification program. From standing desk

How healthy is your office? New wellness standards promote worker well-being

New wellness standards for buildings include everything from indoor air quality to snack foods.
August 3, 2018
Minneapolis buildings designed by Isaac Hodgson and Sons included the Minnesota Loan and Trust Co. building (shown in 1911) and the Bank of Minneapoli

1880s Minneapolis skyline boasted Victorian excess and modern restraint

The early Minneapolis skyline boasted two wildly different style of buildings by the same architectural firm.
July 27, 2018
The new Nicollet Mall features more trees.

July: Nicollet Mall deserved better than its underwhelming $50M remake

The new Nicollet Mall is a leafier, artsier improvement over its dreary predecessor. But this is all that $50 million buys?
July 20, 2018
Where it crosses Lyndale Avenue S., Lake Street is an example of good density, with lively, walkable streets, a variety of housing, and plenty of oppo

New plan for Minneapolis calls for more density, which can be good — and bad

A look at Lake Street shows that there's a difference between good and bad density.
July 13, 2018
Wise Acre Eatery, 5401 Nicollet Av. S., Minneapolis, is one of two former gas stations at that intersection converted to other uses.

How a corner gas station can make a Twin Cities neighborhood vibrant

Corner gas stations can invite visitors to linger, and hopefully enjoy an urban neighborhood.
July 6, 2018
The 1917 Minneapolis city plan placed a plaza on 4th Street. This view looks east.

Minneapolis once had a chance to be the Paris of the Plains

If the city had adopted a 1917 plan, it would have looked like the City of Light, with diagonal boulevards and roundabouts.
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