architecturally signifcant structures of minneapolis


I was driving around downtown the other day enjoying what is probably my last cruise of the year on my motorcycle. I could’nt help but notice that the Minneapolis skyline really is quite impressive for a relatively modest sized city. It got me thinking about some of the architects who have contributed to our most notable local buildings and thought it would be an interesting topic for this months blog.

The picture on the front page is probably our most famous and well known of all the buildings in Minneapolis. The IDS Center opened in 1974 and became the tallest structure in the state of Minnesota. Designed by renowned modern architect Philip Johnson, the IDS Center’s peculiar and unique stepback design, termed “zogs” by its architect, provides each floor with a maximum of 32 corner offices. Buildings Magazine noted: “Every aspect of the block square confluence which is the IDS Center seems to have been developed for the convenience and enjoyment of people.”

Minnesota’s own Ralph Rapson designed the original Guthrie Theatre in 1963. It is generally considered his masterpiece with its colorful interior and the promenades and balconies that made the audience part of a spectacle visible from the street. (Original theatre shown above.) In 2006, the Guthrie finished construction of a new $125 million theater building along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The design is the work of architect Jean Nouvel as well as the Minneapolis architectural firm Architectural Alliance and is a 285,000 square foot facility that houses three theaters.

Frank Gehry is probably best known for his designing of Spain’s Guggenheim Museum in Balbao. Much of Gehry’s work falls within the style of deconstructivism. Deconstructivism, also known as DeCon Architecture, is often referred to as post-structuralist in nature for its ability to go beyond current modalities of structural definition. The University of Minnesota commissioned Gehry in 1990 to plan and design the Weisman Art Museum which opened in 1993 and is often referred to as a modern art gallery. (Top right photo above.)

The design team of Cesar Pelli and Associates was named as the architect for the new Minneapolis downtown library which broke ground in 2003 and opened in 2006. Pelli is perhaps most famous for his Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, still considered among the world’s tallest buildings. Pelli is an Argentine architect known for designing some of the world’s major urban landmarks. His designs are known for their curved facades and metallic elements. Another Pelli landmark in Minneapolis is the Wells Fargo Center built in 1989. (Library photo second from top above.)

Best known for his design of the twin towers of the World Trade Center Buildings 1 and 2, Minoru Yamasaki was one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century and also contributed to our wonderful skyline. The ING Reliastar Building was built in 1964 as the Northwestern National Life Insurance buliding. (Top left photo.)

In 2005 the Walker Art Center took on a new look from another well known modern architecture firm, Herzog & de Meuron. Some of their most notable contributions include the Beijing National Stadium in Beijing, China, the CaixaForum Madrid in Madrid, Spain, the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, and the Allianz Arena football stadium in Munich Germany.

There are other notable buildings in our fair city but time and space have eluded me and so I will leave the others for your own curious road trips whether by car, bike, foot, or motorcycle. Enjoy the journey!

Click for Walker Art Center
Click for Wells Fargo Tower
Click for New Guthrie Theatre
Click for Petronas Towers
Click for Allianz Stadium

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