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HGA wins National Award for Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum

The Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum, designed by HGA Architects and Engineers, which offices in the North Loop neighborhood of downtown Minneapolis, has earned a National AIA Honor Award. Designed by Joan M. Soranno and John Cook of HGA, the 24,500-square-foot mausoleum is buried into a hillside at the historic Minneapolis cemetery, yet was designed to maximize daylight. Clad in rough-textured gray granite and white mosaic-marble, the modernist structure's materials palette continues throughout the interior.

The entrance to the two-level mausoleum opens into a foyer and reception center with white marble floor, folded mahogany walls, and large window walls and clerestory windows. The windows provide views to the oak trees and sky, nearby Lake Calhoun, and the cemetery’s iconic chapel and monuments. Daylight through the window openings also accentuates the curves and angles of the white, sculptural ceiling.

A wide stairway processes past the foyer’s large windows and limestone wall to the lower garden level. To the west, a curved Venetian-plaster wall guides mourners to the chapel where committal ceremonies are held. The chapel's nine, deeply angled vertical windows bring in daylight. Embedded in the angled juxtaposition of the chapel's curved ceiling and wall are light slots, from which soft light emanates.
Extending east from the stairway lobby is 180-foot-long corridor connecting alternating bays or pods of six columbaria rooms (for cremated remains) and six crypt rooms (for caskets), in addition to three family crypt rooms. LED light slots every 20 feet highlight the floating ceiling planes. To the north, the chambers are inserted into the hillside. Each has a round oculus or rectangular skylight positioned in the sculptural planes of the ceiling. To the south, the crypt rooms and columbaria project into the cemetery’s landscape. Window cutouts or glass doors bring daylight in, while providing views to the historic landscape.

The mausoleum is the second National AIA Honor Award earned by Soranno and Cook. It's the fifth National AIA Honor Award for HGA.

Source: HGA


Alec Soth posts a flurry of images on The New Yorker's Instagram

Photographer Alec Soth, who has a studio in the South St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul, uploaded a blizzard of images to The New Yorker's Instagram feed from New Year's Day through January 5. Uploading from @littlebrownmushroom, Soth submitted images of a poem he was typing by Wallace Stevens (titled "The Snow Man"), wintry scenes, spooky assemblages, snowmen, and houses in Frogtown.

In a December 18, 2013 blog post on The New Yorker's website, Soth and writer Brad Zeller--who run a website called The LBM Dispatch--were profiled. The writer called the duo's project of self-described "North American ramblings" a project that "recalls the documentary-style photography of days long gone."

Source: The New Yorker

Republic and Happy Gnome on list of 100 best beer bars

Draft Magazine recently published its annual list of  "America's 100 Best Beer Bars 2014." Republic, at 7 Corners on the West Bank in Minneapolis, and The Happy Gnome, on Selby in Saint Paul, made the list.

Draft divides its list into four sections by geography: West, Midwest, South, and Northeast. "After six years of making this annual list," the article states, "we had to rethink the definition of a top-notch beer bar. New ones are opening every second, and 'good beer bar' no longer equals a zillion taps; there’s just more to it now. We needed to walk out of these places saying, 'Now there’s a bar that really, really cares about your experience with beer.'"

Elsewhere on the Draft website, an article titled "Beertown, U.S.A.: Minneapolis/St. Paul" calls out a wide selection of micro-breweries,  bars and eateries worth visiting.

Source: Draft Magazine

Kate DiCamillo new Ambassador for Library of Congress

Minneapolis author Kate DiCamillo, who has won numerous awards for her books Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux, is the Library of Congress' new Ambassador of Young People's Literature. "The position," according to the LIbrary of Congress website, "was created to raise national awareness of the importance of young people's literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people."

The appointment is a two-year term. The selection criteria, in addition to authoring books, includes being "revered by children," a "dynamic and engaging personality," and having a "known ability to relate to children."

In a New York Times article, DiCamillo said she moved to Minneapolis on a whim and "It was the best thing I ever did." DiCamillo is the fourth author appointed to the position.

Sources: Library of Congress, New York Times

Saint Paul Hotel among the world's best says Travel+Leisure

Among Travel+Leisure's recent selection of top 500 hotels, only the Saint Paul Hotel make the cut in Minnesota. Writing about the hotel in its prestigious list, "The World's Best Hotels 2014," T+L said that "Despite the greeting by a doorman in a top hat, there's a delightful lack of pretense at this historic luxury hotel."

The article lauded the 1910 hotel's architecture by Reed and Stem (the same architects designed Grand Central Station in New York City), English garden, restaurants and bars, and views of downtown Saint Paul and the Missisippi River. And who knew? For guests of the hotel, an on-site seamstress is at-the-ready to fix a hem or sew a button.

Source: Travel+Leisure

Accenture study finds Minneapolis top city in arts funding

A survey conducted by Accenture, based on an online questionnaire for 500 consumers ages 18 and older in 13 U.S. cities with substantive arts communities, found Minneapolis had the largest number of donors.

"When asked what kind of financial support they make to the arts," an article on the report says, "65 percent of respondents don't make separate donations, aside from the cost of membership and attendance at events. Of that, respondents in Minneapolis (47 percent), New York (46 percent), Washington D.C. (43 percent) and Boston (43 percent) had the largest number of donors." 

The survey asked respondents to weigh in on their approaches to arts philanthropy and engagement with the arts, and was part of a study examining how digital technologies can increase arts support. In an Accenture article about the study's findings, David Wilson, managing director the corporation's state and local government practice, and a Guthrie Theater board member, said, "Similar to so many organizations and businesses today, the arts are looking for new ways to connect with the millennial generation. This survey suggests that embracing new technologies and communications tools is crucial for arts organizations to remain relevant to the next generation of supporters."

Source: Accenture

League of American Bicyclists analyzes trends

The League of American Bicyclists recently published an analysis of bicycling in U.S. cities for 2012.

The report, “Where We Ride,” examines “changing commuting patterns and transportation choices.”

Minneapolis is listed among cities with the most bicyclists on the street. 

When it comes to the number of bicycle commuters Minneapolis has, the city ranks second to Portland, the report shows.

The report also analyzes the impact of factors like population, bike/walk/transit-share programs, female bicyclists, age, college towns. and more. 

One finding is that “More and more Americans are realizing that bicycling is a practical, reliable, and economical means to get to and from work -- and it’s also healthy and fun,” the report states. 

Source: The League of American Bicyclists 

CKC Good Food recognized by Homegrown Heroes Awards

Nancy Close, the founder and CEO of CKC Good Food, a St. Paul-based school-meal catering company, recently was singled out for her efforts to bring healthy food to local schoolchildren. 

Close received an honorable mention at the Homegrown Heroes Awards from the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council at a presentation at the Walker Art Center earlier this month. 
“Awards honor those who help expand the community’s ability to grow, process, distribute, eat and compost more healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods,” a prepared statement from the company reads.  
Sarah Reuben, a public health specialist with the Healthy Living Team in the City’s health department, nominated Close for the honor. Reuben had worked with the company to start salad bars at several Minneapolis charter schools. 
Source: CKC Good Food

3M and Target included in Fortune's Blue Ribbon list

Two local corporations, 3M and Target, were included in Fortune magazine’s list of Blue Ribbon Companies, which was released last week, Twin Cities Business reports. 

The Blue Ribbon list includes companies that have gotten high marks from Fortune on other lists the magazine has published throughout the year.   

3M has appeared on four of Fortune's lists, as has Target. Wells Fargo, a company with strong Minnesota ties, also appeared on four Fortune lists this year.  

Source: Twin Cities Business 

Louise Erdrich receives American Book Award

This year, Minneapolis author Louise Erdrich was recognized with an American Book Award for her 14th novel, The Round House.

Erdrich’s novel, set on an American Indian reservation, tells of a teenage boy’s struggle in the aftermath of an attack on his mother. 

The American Book Awards “celebrates the diversity of the country’s literature,” according to an article in the Star Tribune. The awards were established in 1980 by the Before Columbus Foundation, a nonprofit organization, founded by author-poet-playwright Ishmael Reed, that promotes multicultural literature.

A ceremony for the 34 authors who received awards took place at the Miami Book Fair International last month. Erdrich is also the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

The awards don’t involve a cash award or individual competitive categories, the story adds. 

Source: Star Tribune 

Rhythmic Circus and Root City earn kudos from New York critics

The Minneapolis groups Rhythmic Circus (percussive dance) and Root City (funk and blues musicians) joined forces several years ago to create "Feet Don't Fail Me Now!", an evening of high-energy tap dancing and music. The groups have since toured the country with their show to popular acclaim.

Recently, the performers realized a long-held goal of gigging in New York City, off-Broadway at the Victory Theater.  The New York Times called the hour-long show (which has been performed several times in the Twin Cities) a "entertaining display of music and tap-dancing skills." The publication also called out beatboxer Aaron Heaton as "practically another band on his own."

Writing in her blog Infinite Body, Eva Yaa Asantewaa called the show "wildly entertaining in the very best blue-eyes-soul kind of way," She asks "How did Ricci Milan (dancer/artist director) and Nick Bowman (dancer/executive director) manage to pack so much content and value into a single hour? Don't know, but the set list gives these performers a chance to show off their amazing vitality."

Source: The New York Times, Infinite Body

Minneapolis: Top travel destination for 20-somethings

Minneapolis is among “20 Awesome U.S. Cities You Need to Visit in Your 20s,” according to the Huffington Post

The article mentions that New York City and certain areas across the country, like Southern California, which has landmarks like Disneyland, might seem like obvious destinations. 

“But for the cash-strapped, adventure-seeking, microbrewed-beer loving, locavore millennial, the old favorites of U.S. tourism don’t hold much appeal,” the story states. 

Minneapolis is a draw for the “traveler that loves physical activity,” the article says. Besides being a top bike city, it’s known as one of the country’s most physically fit. The city also boasts plenty of parkland, restaurants, and cultural institutions. “Plus, everyone’s really nice,” the story reads.    

Source: Huffington Post 

Lowertown designated top hipster zip code

St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood recently snagged headlines for recognition as America’s top hipster zip code.

The label comes from RealtyTrac, which analyzed hipster zip code markets. RealtyTrac states in its study that while it's tough to pin down what exactly a hipster is, "there’s no doubt the culture surrounding the hipster lifestyle has a major impact on local real estate markets, and mostly in a positive way.”

An influx of trendy restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and other amenities make a particular zip code stand out as hipster-ish. Such amenities translate into higher property values and rental rates, and lower vacancies and foreclosures, the study states. 

“As a nascent hipster market emerges, it can be an extremely appealing target for real estate investors looking to make some quick fix-and-flip profits or to purchase rental properties that provide a steady cash flow and the promise of strong appreciation going forward,” according to RealtyTrac.
Source: RealtyTrac 

Local arts leaders appointed to NEA's National Council on the Arts

Of the three new appointees to the National Endowment for the Arts' prestigious National Council on the Arts, two are Minneapolis arts leaders: Ranee Ramaswamy, founder and co-artistic director of Ragamala Dance, and Olga Viso, executive director of the Walker Art Center. The third appointee is Rick Lowe of Houston, Texas, founder of Project Row Houses.

The National Council on the Arts convenes three times a year to vote on funding recommendations for grants and rejections; to advise the chair on application guidelines, budget, and policy and planning directions; and to recommend to the President of the United States nominees for the National Medal of Arts. The three new appointees were confirmed by the U.S. Senate and appointed by President Barack Obama.

The appointees "bring their varied experience--ranging from contemporary art curatorship, to classical Indian dance, and creative placemaking--to help the NEA advance its mission to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation in communities across the country," states the press release.

Ramaswamy has been a master choreographer, performer, and teacher of the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam dance since 1978. She founded Ragamala Dance in Minneapolis in 1992. Her work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, American Composers Forum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and has been supported by the National Dance Project and the Joyce Foundation. Ramaswamy’s tours have been highlighted by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Dance Festival, and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. She's earned numerous regional and national awards for her work.

Prior to joining the Walker, Viso was director at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – Smithsonian Institution. She was a curator at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida from 1993 to 1995, and held several curatorial and administrative positions at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia from 1989 to 1993. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. From 2003 to 2006, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts

Architect John Dwyer a finalist in New York City design competition

A local architect is one of 50 finalists in the “Draw Up a Chair” competition for New York City’s Battery Park. 

John Dwyer’s design, titled “The Carbon Rune,” was among more than 1,500 design submissions to the contest, according to Inhabitat magazine.   

A panel of world-renowned jurors sifted through the entries. The top 50 designs are now on view near the Battery Green while the winning designer will be announced later this month. The prizewinner will receive $10,000 and his or her chair will be used in the park.    

The city’s park commissioner Veronica White is quoted in the piece saying, “We are proud to share the designs with the public to receive feedback since the chair is for all New Yorkers and visitors to use when they come to Battery Park.” 

Source: Inhabitat  

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