The Sweet Spot: Radical Hospitality on WAM Plaza


If you’ve walked or biked past the Weisman Art Museum plaza this spring, you may have noticed a tiny park, complete with benches spelling “WELCOME.” Alberto Babio, Kamon Liu, and Deuk-Geun Hong (all Architecture) designed and built this pop-up green space, named the Sweet Spot, for Andrea Johnson‘s (Architecture) graduate module Open Studio, which challenges students to brainstorm and propose their own projects for real clients.

In their case, the WAM Collective, a student group that focuses on connecting the museum to the U of M community. The group wanted a space to engage students and other passersby using “radical hospitality,” the theme of the Weisman’s latest exhibition Feast.

The Sweet Spot is in line with a growing pop-up trend. Babio thinks that temporary spaces are Photo Mar 28, 4 09 08 PM-thumb-300x300-200800becoming more popular “because people are hungry to use the street and socialize outside, even more in Minnesota, where people suffer this hard winter. Also the idea of reusing spaces is always attractive.” The WAM Collective is activating the park with a series of events such as conversation-starting fortune cookies, theatrical performances, and a “beetnik” cafe.

Babio explained that Open Studio is a demanding course, but worth the effort. “As future architects it is very important to start getting to know the dynamic between the designer and the client.” They were also working to a firm deadline, with real materials. “We knew from our studio experience about the design process, but we had to learn about building the elements and testing materials along the way,” he said. All the same, he enjoyed the additional time in the shop with his classmates.


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