First detailed design of Water Works park presented

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February 18, 2014 // UPDATED 6:34 pm - February 19, 2014
By: Ben Johnson
An elevated view of Water Works park
Minneapolis Parks Foundation
Ben Johnson

The design team behind the new Water Works park presented its first detailed draft of the park’s schematic design Feb. 13.

The design includes a new glass-walled, 5,760-square-foot building built in between the Stone Arch Bridge and the intersection of West River Road and Portland Avenue. The two-story building would utilize sloping terrain so that only one floor is built above street level. The lower level houses bathrooms, space for cultural programing and a recreation equipment rental counter, and the upper level has space for concessions and fireplaces for the winter months.

A plaza scattered with tables and seating leads out from the building’s lower levels, sprawling underneath the Stone Arch Bridge.

The old Fuji Ya building at 420 S. 1st St. will be torn down and the space will be converted into an grassy space with places to sit and rest. Previously park designers had talked about building a new restaurant there, but it seems as though those plans were shelved amidst strong objection by condo owners in the area.

The park designers’ plans also show the sloping land upriver from Portland Ave. being cut into terraces. The terraces create more accessible, defined spaces that unearth and showcase more of the mill ruins in the area.

Along the riverbank perennial plantings with log berms are planned to help soften the transition from the riverfront pedestrian and bike trails to the Mississippi River.  

Water Works will stretch along the Mississippi River waterfront from Portland Avenue just past the 3rd Avenue Bridge. It will be funded through multiple sources, including the city, Park Board and Minneapolis Parks Foundation, although specifics are still being worked out.

The design team includes a trio of New York City-based consultants: Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture, James Lima, a development consultant, and Rob Rogers from Rogers Marvel Architects. Minneapolis-based SRF Consulting is also working on the project.

The team will return in April to present its final schematic design, then it will move into conducting design development, feasibility studies and site investigation. Water Works is scheduled to open in 2018.