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Mississippi riverfront design competition winner sharpens focus on redevelopment plan

TLS/KVA, a design team that's based partly in Boston and Berkeley, Calif., has begun an information-gathering phase to bring its RiverFirst concept to fruition.

In February, the team won the Mississippi Riverfront Design Competition (MRDC) with the proposal, which involves "inter-related design initiatives focused on health, mobility, and green economy," and which, functioning on many different levels, aims to help raise awareness about how consumers impact the river system, according to a prepared statement about the proposal.

The competition asked for proposals that would reorient the area to the river, with a main idea being that parks can be a powerful engine for sustainable recreational, cultural, and economic development--something that is especially needed along the river, an area that historically has been underused, according to project materials.        

For its efforts, TLS/KVA has secured a commission, though the scope, location, and features are still up in the air, according to project information.

To figure out what specific aspects of its ambitious RiverFirst proposal will be doable, the team is researching other existing riverfront-related plans, while also getting feedback from various experts and community members and nailing down possible funding sources, according to project manager Mary deLaittre.  

On April 6, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved $267,000 in contracts for this phase of the project, which has a new heading: Mississippi Riverfront Design Initiative.

Ultimately over the next six months, TLS/KVA will work to define an implementation plan for both a long-term framework and a more immediate project--so this is a transitional phase into development, she explains. 

In late April, TLS/KVA had its first steering, advisory, and technical committee meetings with the park board. It'll continue to meet in the coming months, and then unveil a firmer plan to committee members in September, she says.

The committees, which will be open to the public, offer "critical connections and opportunities for community engagement," says deLaittre.

With a project of this scale, "it's important to collaborate across institutions and the public and private sector," she says, adding, "We want to avoid a piecemeal approach."

What sets apart this community engagement process from others, she says, is that "we're trying to substantively engage people and turn to them for what they're best at."

Source: Mary deLaittre, project manager for the Mississippi Riverfront Design Initiative 
Writer: Anna Pratt
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