Welcome to the PARKLOT

If you pass through downtown Minneapolis this summer, keep an eye out for sculptures in storefronts, performance art in the streets, and a pop-up parklot designed and built by Students for Design Activism (SDA).

Last week, Hennepin Theatre Trust launched Made Here, a public art initiative showcasing local artists and designers along the Minneapolis Cultural District. Earlier this spring, they requested proposals for temporary public spaces along the project corridor. The artists panel selected Students for Design Activism’s plan for a parklot outside the IDS Center.

SDA co-chairs Luke Nichols and Peter Truax (both Landscape Architecture) said that from its earliest iterations, the team focused on engaging a diverse audience.

vertical“Public space is at a premium, especially in the downtown area. Even the skyways—one of Minneapolis’s most iconic places—are a semi-private, controlled environment. We wanted to create a landscape geared towards whoever might walk by,” Truax explained. Their design transformed an employee smoking area into a vibrant public space. With a shaded trellis with standing tables, benches, and a Little Free Library, the parklot encourages passersby to take a break, socialize, and enjoy the scene.

Why a pop-up? “It’s a celebration of space,” said Truax. “It’s examining what can be in the landscape versus what’s currently there, and taking a fragment of space or time and making it more than what it otherwise is.” They’re also an interesting design challenge. Truax noted that “the scale or nature of our work is one of the things that’s drawn me to the profession. Some architects design furniture, some design buildings, some design the whole city. There’s a parallel in landscape architecture: with small sites, neighborhoods or streetscapes, and regional planning. Moving between those scales is intellectually challenging, it’s diversity of work, it’s exciting.”

Nichols also sees pop-ups as a shift from car-oriented development to urbanization. “For decades, we’ve been designing for cars, but we designed this for the people who live in cities. Parklots follow the larger trend of emphasizing street infrastructure and making cities more vibrant.”

You can visit the IDS Center PARKLOT through September 30 on South 8th Street, between Marquette Avenue and Nicollet Mall.


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