Built in 1968, Nicollet Mall became the prize possession of Downtown Minneapolis. It signifies Minneapolis’s economic growth and city development. Now to conserve the mall’s appeal for retail and downtown investment, the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Downtown Council have strategically planned for Nicollet Mall’s redesign. Since the construction of the project in early June 2015, the Nicollet Mall renovation project aims to better connect residents and visitors from the greater cities to Downtown Minneapolis and vice versa. James Corner, lead architect of the James Corner Field Operation, states that “[the grand idea for] Nicollet Mall was always to ensure that it was pedestrian friendly.” Hence, the focus is to make the heart of the city a people-friendly hub through the enhancement of modern exterior designs and green landscaping.
The design of the mall breaks into five parts that stretches from Grant Street to Washington Avenue. The segments include Loring Woods, South Grove, the Center, North Grove, and Mississippi Woods. Project organizers expect both the Loring Woods (south end) and Mississippi Woods (north end) segments to have green designs after the mall’s redesign is complete. With the vision of creating green links from one end of Wood to the other, project organizers plan to construct a more park-like or green environment with trees and shrubs to revitalize the Loring Greenway area and the Mississippi Riverfront area. Similar to the Woods, the plan for the Groves also includes green landscaping enhancements. The design for the South Grove, a Reading Room complete with Wi-Fi accessible benches, book exchange, large reading lamps, and power charging stations. As for the North Grove, the area will support a Nice Ride Station and new transit shelters with outdoor seating.
The Center of Nicollet Mall is situated in the prime business district of Minneapolis. Many corporations, such as Target and Macy’s, are located within the one-mile long, urban center. Because of this, project organizers envision the Center of Nicollet Mall to be the place where residents and visitors travel through to do business and enjoy their time in the downtown area. To execute this vision, the construction along Nicollet Mall will focus on sidewalk enhancement on both sides of the street. Additionally, the Center will contain two walks — a Light Walk and an Art Walk — where people can enjoy events such as festivals, markets, and activities. The Light Walk will consist of a “pedestrian-scaled trellis which serves as an armature for a 2-block-long overhead light installation constructed out of a series of mirrored fins and programmable LED lights.” The Art Walk, in contrast, will have rows of trees and light masts accompanied by a selected artist’s design of lanterns. Furthermore, moveable chairs and lounges will be installed to create and encourage a relaxed space for social gatherings.
Overall, the design of the $50 million Nicollet Mall renovation project ensures the conservation of a people-friendly atmosphere. With the construction of new urban designs and green landscaping, the hope of the project is to revitalize the central business district of the city, as well as to serve as a social gathering hub for residents and visitors alike. Currently, Nicollet Mall is still under construction and is expected to be open in 2017.
How will the Nicollet Mall Renovation project transform the community in Downtown Minneapolis? What are some city renovation initiatives in your city? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Images by Tam Nguyen. Data linked to sources.