Lunchtime tourist

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April 11, 2005 // UPDATED 1:53 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Now that it's officially spring, get out of your office and head toward the river. No boots, no cumbersome snow piles, no more shivering. And no more excuses! Take advantage of our fabulous riverfront before it fills with summer's crowds.

The best way to get there is along a meandering path at the Federal Reserve. In a feat of brilliant planning, the Reserve's architects, Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, decided to create a modern version of Bridge Square - the late 19th century financial hub of Minneapolis. Today, you can wander the park-like promenade, enjoy outdoor sculptures and learn about the development of Minneapolis in a series of five relief maps (still under winter tarps when we went to press).

The Federal Reserve system was created by an act of Congress in 1913 as the central bank of the United States. Twelve branches make up the system - each one responsible for operating nationwide payments systems, distributing the nation's cash, and supervising member banks within their districts. Our 9th district includes Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, and parts of Wisconsin and Michigan.

Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) is one of the world's largest architectural firms. In 12 offices throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia, HOK employs over 900 architects, engineers, urban planners and landscape and interior designers. President, CEO and philosophical leader of the firm, Gyo Obata was born in San Francisco in 1949. He studied under Eliel Saarinen at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he developed his mission that design should enrich lives as well as achieve client goals. In 1955, he co-founded HOK in St. Louis, MO. Among their noteworthy projects are the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and Camden Yards stadium in Baltimore, home to baseball's Orioles.

While Obata oversees the firm's general design philosophy, he personally designed our Federal Reserve bank. He believes Federal Reserve buildings hold a special place in communities; they must be highly functional, extremely secure and demonstrate civic pride. The eight-story office tower and four-story operations center are sheathed in brick, glass, steel and buff-colored Kasota stone quarried near Mankato.

You may think you're near the piles of cash, but don't get too excited - it's actually moved in "peopleless vaults" by automated vehicles.

LUNCH TIP: At Origami, "Sushi is good anytime." 30 N. 1st St.

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