on the architectural jewels of Minneapolis


Modern architecture trumps small-town nostalgia

June 8, 2006—With A Prairie Home Companion about to hit theaters, you could be forgiven for seeing Minnesota as a stronghold of folksy nostalgia and little else. In fact, the state—or at least its alpha city, Minneapolis—is quickly becoming one of the country’s architectural hotbeds. The haute construction boom has already produced Herzog & de Meuron’s Walker Art Center addition and Cesar Pelli’s Minneapolis Central Library, and this month brings the unveiling of two more world-class edifices. First comes the Target Wing of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, courtesy of Michael Graves (yes, the guy behind the toasters still designs the occasional building). Set to open on Saturday, it’s a typical Graves riff on the archetypical museum facade, with stripped-down columns and pediments. Two weeks and a day later, ribbons will be cut at Jean Nouvel’s new home for the nationally renowned Guthrie Theater (above). Nouvel, the man behind such sleek modernist works as Lucerne’s Cultural Center and the Arab World Institute in his hometown of Paris, has dressed the Guthrie in huge navy-blue steel panels, a number of which are covered in screen-printed images from the company’s past productions. But the star of the structure is the cantilevered walkway that soars out from the performance spaces, over the Mississippi River—fitting, as locals expect the Guthrie to anchor a revitalized riverfront. Sounds like the kind of prairie home we could get used to.

—Ted Loos

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