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Mississippi Riverfront Design Competition: Four finalists lay out inspiring visions

Coming up with inspiring visions for reconnecting the city of Minneapolis to the Mississippi River--one of three great rivers in the world--is no easy task, but that's just what the contestants in the Mississippi Riverfront Design Competition set out to do.

The four finalist teams, which were chosen in November, are competing for a commission to redesign 220 acres of parkland along the Mississippi, starting near the Stone Arch Bridge and pushing the city's northern boundary.  

They presented their plans to an audience of over 400 people at the Walker Art Center last week, while another 200 viewers watched online. A winner will be announced Feb. 10.  

Mary deLaittre, the contest's project manager, who is also the founder and principal of Groundwork City Building, says each design was impressive.

For starters, the New York City-based Ken Smith Workshop's plan "clearly walked people along the river," she says, adding, "That was the strongest element. It gave a clear concept of the parks along the river." 

Boston's Stoss Landscape Urbanism had a clear understanding that "we need to reclaim and redefine the river quickly," while the firm also recognized the importance of marketing and branding the endeavor in unique ways.

Likewise, TLS/KVA out of Berkeley, Calif., "distinguished themselves with an innovative, comprehensive and integrated approach," that included a considerable amount of community engagement.

The group touched on topics such as health, mobility and green economy, educating people about consumer impacts on the river.

Last, Turenscape team members who come from Beijing, China, "really outdid themselves with a quality video that looks at the river over 50 years." 

Although each team was paid $30,000, deLaittre says, individually the teams put in another $250,000 in time, expertise and production--hard work that will have lasting value. 

Video footage of their presentations can be seen on the project website, where there's also a form for submitting feedback.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Minneapolis Parks Foundation cosponsored the contest along with creative partners, the Walker Art Center and University of Minnesota College of Design.

Source: Mary deLaittre, project manager, Mississippi Riverfront Design Competition and founder and principal for Groundwork City Building 
Writer: Anna Pratt

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