Turning Suburban Blights into Community Hubs

Natalie Ross (MLA ’11) was shortlisted for her project “Combat Concrete” in the Strip Appeal ideas design competition. An online vote is taking place now through January 16th to decide the Public Choice winner.

Architects, creatives and the general public were asked to propose innovative ideas for the aesthetic reinvention and adaptive reuse of small-scale strip malls in their local neighborhoods. Ross submitted work inspired by an Urban Design Studio class where she investigated a strip mall located in North Minneapolis along Broadway Avenue.

Ross worked with Juxtaposition Arts – a local non-profit promoting art and entrepreneurship among youth in North Minneapolis – to understand the space better. Juxtaposition’s concern about the lack of fresh food in their neighborhood, along with safe and aesthetic places for people to work and play led Ross to push a “Food and Art” program for the site.


Elements of her design include a bus connection, four season fountain, showcase restaurant, pollination garden, food truck parking, rooftop gardens, movie screen art, and cooperative hot house.

“At the heart of this design is a programmic framework that allows the community to take ownership of the site and utilize both the building and the grounds. It is about economic sustainability and creating opportunities for creative and motivated individuals at a small scale.” – Natalie Ross

To learn more about the Masters of Landscape Architecture program, please visit their website.

For more information about “Combat Concrete” visit the Strip Appeal website.