MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Call it an American Idol of sorts for architects.
Three design teams that are vying to revitalize Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall presented designs to a panel of judges at the Guthrie Theater on Tuesday night.
Nicollet Mall has not seen a major makeover since the late 1980s. Along its 12-block span, water pools in cracked pavement, lighting fixtures are dated and bus shelters and sidewalks no longer fit the growing population.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak envisions Nicollet Mall as a great American Main Street connecting the downtown core to the city's lakes. He says architects from New York, Berkeley and Montreal have submitted design plans, and the three finalists have been whittled down from 20 applicants worldwide.
"We have heard from architects who can draw some pretty pictures. What we really want to do is hear from architects who can hear from a community, then put onto a page or a computer screen, what that should really look like," said Rybak. "We are going to wipe the slate clean and then bring in all members of the community and say, 'What do you want your Main Street to be?'"
Every day, 140,000 people come from around Minnesota to work on and around Nicollet Mall. Many Minneapolis residents express interest in filling empty blocks with more retail.
"I'm kind of disappointed because 50 years ago downtown was all kinds of different stores and it was really great," said Sandy Casto, a downtown resident. "I would like to see some more stores. I think the area from 4th to 5th, there's nothing there and there could be a lot of things."
The finalists include James Corner Field Operations of New York, Daoust Lestage of Montreal and Tom Leader Studio/!Melk of Berkeley, Calif. They all presented their designs at a 5 p.m. meeting to a panel of 13 judges that will review the submissions. The panel's selection will be announced on Thursday, Sept. 19.
Construction is expected to begin in 2015 with an estimated completion date in 2016. Funding for the project is provided by a combination of state bonding and private assessments.
For more information about Nicollet Mall and the project's progress, visit www.nicolletmallproject.com.
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