Video contest winner critiques the skyway

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March 28, 2011 // UPDATED 4:46 pm - April 6, 2011
By: Andre Eggert
Andre Eggert

The thought of heading out onto the Minneapolis streets isn’t nearly as daunting as a few weeks ago, with warmer temperatures and slush-free sidewalks.

Despite that, the skyways one story up remain busy with pedestrians. These glass tunnels in the sky were the subject of analysis for Architecture Minnesota’s Videotect competition, which asked people to create a video that reflects their opinions on the perennial debate: Do skyways help or harm Downtown Minneapolis?

Now, the results are in.

On March 31, a crowd packed itself into the Walker Art Center to watch as a montage of the videos played, offering both positive and negative analyses of the skyways. One grand prize winner was awarded $1,000, three runners up got $500 and five snatched $1,000 for the viewers’ choice awards.

“I was honestly blown away by the variety of videos that we got,” Architecture Minnesota editor Chris Hudson said. “We sort of feared we’d get dry responses, but they were wildly creative.”

The winner, as chosen by a panel of judges for the grand prize, was titled “Davy,” offering a sobering and negative look at the skyways.

“It was purely critical of [them],” Hudson said.

While the judges may have chosen serious as the winner, the viewers chose a laugh.

James Tucker’s video, a parody of a National Geographic documentary, showed a future where global cooling has forced everyone to the tropics. The documentary mused on the weird empty tunnels in the sky and pondered their reason for existence.

Other videos were funny too. The movie “Lindau” featured a battle rap between two people to determine if the skyways were good or bad.

A majority of the videos were positive, Hudson said, which was surprising. Many architects and urban planners prefer bustling sidewalks to skyways.

“There’s something lost when we move all of the pedestrian traffic indoors,” Hudson said. “We definitely lose that classic urban feel of being on a busy sidewalk.”

Criticisms aside, he said the videos helped to show him positive aspects of the skyways.

An Architecture Minnesota-made video following self-proclaimed “scary skyway enthusiast” Leif Petterson was another turning point. Leif, who spent two weeks using only the skyways (his apartment is connected to the system) and never stepping outside showed how the system is “a neighborhood in its own way,” Hudson said.

Videos were viewed about 15,000 times and 1,600 votes were cast online before the screening event.

The popularity of the contest impressed Architecture Minnesota’s staff and there are plans for another similar contest in the future.

To check out the videos, go to the contest’s website: aia-mn.org/videotect.