Streetscapes is a column devoted to Minnesota architecture. Writers critique, explore and explain the built environment, from brand-new buildings to revered older ones.

These 11 projects by Minnesota architects won awards for excellence in 2021

The City of Minneapolis Public Service Building in downtown Minneapolis shares a public plaza with City Hall, left, and the Hennepin County Government

Annual awards recognize sustainability and human scale as well as function and form.

Lyceum Theater was one of the first large entertainment venues in Minneapolis

The Lyceum Theater in 1930.

After 70 years, the first Minneapolis auditorium gave way to today's Orchestra Hall.

Massive Harmonia Hall in Minneapolis went from a jewel to a rooming house

Once a Victorian gem, the massive Harmonia Hall (pictured in 1885) in Minneapolis ended its days as a men’s rooming house.

The downtown hall, which opened in December 1884, exemplified the busy, colorful Victorian Gothic commercial style.

Minneapolis' newest park is like a front porch on the Mississippi River

Design of Water Works Park and Pavilion achieves simplicity without being simplistic.

This long-lost St. Paul mansion had a link to 'Knives Out'

A shovel fortune helped build a mansion that once stood in the shadow of the Minnesota State Capitol.

A 240-foot tower once rose in Minneapolis – advertising Coca-Cola

A 240-foot tower had the prominence that the Grain Belt Beer sign has today.

Why the Twin Cities should save some ugly buildings from the wrecking ball

Beautiful buildings tend to be the ones that are preserved. Here's why we should save some ugly structures.

Why the old-style Lake Harriet Band Shell remains a perennial favorite

Despite its traditional design, the Minneapolis band shell is just a few decades old.

MSP's new ramp and transit hub is an intermodal model

Parking ramp/transit center blends form, function and nature.

Who said Victorians couldn't party? Just look at 1883 bash held in Twin Cities

To celebrate completion of the northern transcontinental railway, the Twin Cities threw a massive daylong bash.

Minneapolis' 701 Building has kept its slightly kooky, 1980s charm

A popped-collar building is tucked in Minneapolis' buttoned-down skyline.

From a southern Twin Cities lake to a street in St. Paul, this builder threw his name around

Engineer and real estate developer left his mark – and his name – across the Twin Cities.

Skyscrapers rule downtowns, but we need smaller buildings, too

Two- and three-story buildings create character and a more human scale.

What office workers can expect when they return to downtown Minneapolis

If you're heading back to your office in downtown Minneapolis, expect more than you hoped, less than you feared

What Minneapolitans in the 1920s thought the Twin Cities would be like in 1980

Folks pictured helipads and the Borough of St. Paul.

The colorful, confusing history of the two 10th Avenue Bridges in Minneapolis

Minneapolis had two 10th Avenue Bridges: One remains standing, the other left behind rare ruins.

Walker Art Center's iconic brick building, now 50 years old, is aging gracefully

The Walker Art Center's minimalist, brick-clad building opened 50 years ago. Here's a look back at its roots.

Co-owners of 331 Club, Amsterdam Bar open 'simple' St. Paul bar

The cozy White Squirrel Bar is the latest addition to a creative-minded St. Paul neighborhood.

Mayo Clinic's carillon bell tower performances now ring on livestream

The Mayo Clinic's carillon bell tower performances have been a staple for nearly a century.

Starting as early as 1919, Minneapolis planners had big ideas for city

Since 1919, Minneapolis Planning Commission has looked to the future.

In 1957, city leaders thought Minneapolis would be a futuristic city by 1967

In 1957, city leaders and planners laid out a vision for Minneapolis in 1967. How much of it came true?

Near North neighborhood in Minneapolis was once a showcase of Victorian homes

In its prime, Oak Lake Park featured Victorian residential architecture set amid parks, artificial ponds and tree-lined streets.

Northstar Center, once building of the future, is emblem of Minneapolis' past

At the time it was built, the Northstar Center embodied the hope of urban vitality.

Demolished 'simple, solid' St. Thomas building was rich in St. Paul history

Railroad magnate James J. Hill and Archbishop John Ireland asked famed architect Cass Gilbert to design seminary dorm.

Crystal Court, the heart of Minneapolis for almost 50 years, gets some TLC

The Crystal Court in the IDS Center is getting its first upgrade since 1998.

Why 'the prettiest church in Minneapolis' fell to the wrecking ball

The third home of the First Free (also known as Free Will) Baptist Church was a rare gem.

How a Minnesota tax credit has saved historic buildings

Over the past 10 years, the state's historic tax credit has been applied to more than 100 projects all over Minnesota.

Landscape architect designed Minnesota Zoo and upgraded Minneapolis parkway system

Roger Bond Martin, a founder of the U's landscape architecture program, emphasized collaboration.

The ballroom that held Buddy Holly's last concert becomes a historic landmark

But the Surf is historic for more than that fateful concert on a frigid night in 1959.


Vast photo archive of the Twin Cities lets you compare then and now

Walter Norton and Clifford Peel left an extensive collection of commercial photography.


What does it say about Minneapolis that a dollar store is coming soon to Nicollet Mall?

Dollar General says DGX store at 5th and Nicollet is aimed at "metropolitan" customers.


Twin Cities work/live buildings have roots in the streetcar era

The live/work model isn't new. It's as old as the streetcar system in the Twin Cities.


One of the quirkiest buildings in downtown Minneapolis began as a roller rink

Buildings often went through multiple uses in 19th-century Minneapolis. The Crocker-Leland rink was no exception.


Following Minneapolis' lead, wood office buildings are popping up nationwide

Developers are turning to wood for its versatility and sustainability.


Archives of an architecture firm reveal a Minneapolis that was never built

Ed Baker's drawings and models of past projects give us a glimpse of what might have been.


1970s Mpls. activists saved Milwaukee Avenue's modest homes from teardown + Photo Gallery

A grassroots effort fought a plan to raze modest "Joe Sixpack" houses on Milwaukee Avenue that dated to the 1890s.


In 1950s, modernizing Minneapolis saw a major loss of modest buildings

At least 300 small buildings have disappeared from downtown Minneapolis since 1950. Here's just one worth mourning.


While workers were away: Six new buildings on the Minneapolis skyline

The pandemic hasn't stopped construction in downtown Minneapolis, where the skyline continues to change.


Outdoor dining has breathed new life into Minnesota restaurants

Because of safety concerns, ease and aesthetics, outdoor dining has caught on in Minnesota.


Twin Cities auto showrooms once were as beautiful as the cars

Back when cars were things of wonder, the showrooms boasted architectural elegance.


What's the future of Minnesota's small-town downtowns? Hint: It's not Mayberry

Minnesota's small-town downtowns have a future, but it won't look like past.


3 Black architects on how race has shaped our environment in Twin Cities

It's time to take a hard look at who has the power to shape our environment today.


Minnesota's 'front porch,' the State Capitol Mall, is a graveyard of Victorian architecture

Now Minnesota's "front porch," the Capitol Mall was home to mix of Victorian dwellings.


Minnesota's Great River Road is a lesson in history, ecology and design

A drive along the Great River Road follows the Mississippi from the past to the present.


With pandemic and protests, Minneapolis streets transcend transportation

How can we facilitate a wider range of uses for our roads?


Minneapolis' skyways are getting little use now, but they'll eventually be popular again

While they're getting little use now, these essential downtown connectors will eventually come back to life.


Key Twin Cities malls are being transformed into town centers

Well-located and managed by savvy owners, a few powerhouse malls continue to evolve and thrive.


Often overlooked, parking ramps reflect Twin Cities history

Advancements in engineering transformed the technology, scale and design of parking structures.


The 1913 widening of St. Paul's Robert Street gave the city room to grow

More than 30 buildings, many dating to the 1880s or earlier, had to be torn down or have their front lopped off 20 feet.


Where does Minneapolis seem most deserted? The skyways

City sidewalks aren't the real measure of how vacant Minneapolis is right now.


How closing Kmart and finally reopening Nicollet Avenue will change Mpls.

Reviving the once-busy thoroughfare can help create a more vibrant, connected city.


Why do new plans for Upper Harbor Terminal in Mpls. repeat old mistakes?

Analysis: We need new kinds of development that will eliminate disparities, increase affordability, and generate jobs.


With Kowalski's coming to Southdale, the first U.S. mall gets closer to roots

With the addition of a grocery store, Southdale moves one step closer to its original vision as a community hub.


How the Twin Cities could be designed for winter livability

A few humble street corners show us how to create a "patio culture" year-round.