Hennepin Healthcare Clinic and Specialty Center
This consolidation effort places more than two dozen far-flung clinics and practices under a single, convenient roof. From the street, the colorful and welcoming six-story structure is the exact opposite of its neighbor, the colossally grim Hennepin County Medical Center, a 1975 concrete fortress that turns its back on the street with such force that, if it were a person, it would require the services of a chiropractor. This $225 million newcomer deftly connects to the city with an undulating glass facade that vividly demonstrates its purpose in a single glance. Opening March 26.
Architects: BWBR, St. Paul
The Dayton's Project
A private investment of nearly $200 million will restore this historic megastructure (portions of which date to 1902) to its rightful place as a downtown crossroads. Most of the former department store's 12 aboveground floors will be converted to office space, but the public will find plenty of reasons to visit, with three levels (basement, street and skyway) devoted to retail and a massive food hall. One of the project's most appealing features — and there are many — is the way it will make the building's key relationship to Nicollet Mall more porous and inviting. Opening in 2019.
Architects: Gensler & Associates, Mpls.
If nothing else, its 284-foot height is working wonders to reduce the menacing presence of its hulking, Brutalist neighbors on the University of Minnesota's main campus, the Malcolm Moos Health Sciences Tower (295 feet) and Phillips-Wangensteen Building (210 feet), arguably the state's ugliest high-rises. But this 26-story apartment tower is more than a skyline tranquilizer. It's a glass-sheathed, $100 million investment in urban density (when it opens this summer, its 430 units will house nearly 700 students), and its contemporary design is a welcome departure from the interchangeable low-rise apartments that have sprung up near the U. Here's hoping that some of the dining institutions that it replaced (the Village Wok, the Big 10) will return to the building's first floor.
Architects: Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, Chicago
A welcome trend taking place in the downtown Minneapolis area awkwardly labeled "East Town" is the steady disappearance of lifeless parking lots. In this just-announced project, the half of the block that faces the historic Armory will be reserved for a soft-spoken home for Thrivent (the modest eight-story profile recalls the company's beloved midcentury gem at 7th Street and 2nd Avenue S., demolished in 1997), with a mid-2020 opening. In addition, a 150-unit apartment building and a 120-room hotel will line up along the block's 7th Street side. The multiuse mix is reminiscent of the compact, full-block Kraus-Anderson development just to the south, which contains a headquarters for the construction firm, along with apartments, Finnegans House brewery and taproom and the opening-in-September Elliot Park Hotel.
Architects: HGA, Mpls.
Consolidated Public Office Building
It's a mystery why anyone believed that a parking ramp was a suitable use for this prime address, across from the Hennepin County Government Center's north plaza. But after the 27-year-old ramp (pictured) comes down in June, it'll be replaced by a municipal office building that will centralize city operations from six downtown buildings into this single user-friendly facility. The design hasn't been finalized, but a public presentation last month wisely emphasized large, interconnected public spaces on both the street and skyway levels. Opening in 2020.
Architects: MSR, Mpls., and Henning Larsen, New York City
While the Dayton's Project is grabbing most of the attention, this remake of the former Barnes & Noble space, nearing completion, is also worth watching. On the second floor, the 20-story office tower's clumsy skyway connection to the IDS Center has been smartly realigned, with the addition of a sunlit concourse that overlooks 8th Street. New escalators connect the skyway to an airy, two-story lobby, which also includes a prominent Nicollet Mall front door, a detail fudged in the original 1969 design. Both levels will feature a handful of retail/restaurant tenants. Best of all, a dreary and underutilized pocket park — blighted, for decades, by a cartoonish faux-Williamsburg portico — is being repurposed into an attractive outdoor gathering spot that should debut by late May..
Architects: Perkins+Will, Mpls.
This public-private partnership, a collaboration between the Loppet Foundation and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, will create a year-round hub for outdoor activities in the city's largest park. The facility will include a bike/ski/snowboard rental shop, a Cajun-themed cafe, public locker rooms and restrooms, a fitness space and a conference room. The building's contemporary, angular design will practice what it preaches by placing an emphasis on indoor/outdoor connections. Opening this summer.
Architects: HGA, Mpls.
Decades in the making, the dramatic new home of this 144-year-old natural history resource is expected to lure three times as many visitors as the museum's former home on the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus. Strikingly clad in steel and rough-sawn white pine from northern Minnesota, the $79.2 million project not only includes galleries, labs, a planetarium and a pollinator-friendly landscape designed for learning, it also acts as a great-looking gateway to the St. Paul campus. Opening midsummer.
Architects: Perkins+Will, Mpls.
Minnesota Museum of American Art
After moving into the historic Pioneer Endicott complex in 2013, this under-the-radar museum (and its gem of a collection) is finally gaining the much-needed gallery and arts education space it deserves. Hurrah! The expansion earns serious bonus points for emphasizing street-level square footage, which will hopefully inject a jolt of energy into downtown St. Paul's somnolent sidewalk scene. The opening is scheduled for year's end.
Architect: VJAA, Mpls.
It's architecture as billboard. What could be better advertising for Minnesota's professional soccer team than seeing this flying saucer-like stadium while speeding down I-94? The steel frame is going up quickly, giving sidewalk superintendents a glimpse of the structure's curvaceous profile. When it opens in spring 2019, this 19,400-seat beauty will glow at night, thanks to a constellation of LED lights and a translucent polymer mesh screen stretched across its shell. Unlike previous stadiums, its landscape will feature green space rather than a sea of parking lots.
Architects: Populous, Kansas City, Mo.