“There’s a reason the city is located on the falls. The falls are really powerful. They’re beautiful and they really have a strong emotional response for people. I mean: you’re just drawn to them. They are what make a place. And that is why the native Americans were there; that’s why the settlers ended up there; that’s why people move from the sticks, from the little farms into the city; that’s why people move from the suburbs to downtown; that’s why people from other cities move to Minneapolis. People inherently want to be near the water. The water is the meaning of life, it’s the source, it’s the thing.”
Ken Smith, Principal, Ken Smith Landscape Architect
Our design approach celebrates the Resilient River; we believe in the power of nature to heal, and the relevance of the River in the life of the people of Minneapolis. We take the long view, and see that changes in industry along the banks have happened before, driven by the market but also by the guiding hand of public policy and the aspirations of the River’s citizens. While we recognize the role of industry, and in many cases are enthralled by the scale of its work along the banks, we also remain steadfast in our belief that this landscape is worthy of respect, even reverence, and protection from harm. Our purpose then is to aid in healing the riverfront as a place of critical ecological importance, as well as a place for working and living. Where the River has been an excuse for dividing neighborhoods and peoples, we desire a place where people can come together. We concur with the view that parks can create new value on adjacent lands, but also propose that a new ecology of parks is necessary that makes productive use of the rich riverfront lands and waters, as well as the people on its shores.
RIVERFIRST restores and expands the idea of confluence to include the joining of healthy bio-filtered storm water tributaries with the river, flows of transportation and information, flows of people, capital and green revenue sources. We join renewal of the Minneapolis riverfront with municipal needs to grow a green economy, provide jobs, join communities with healthy local food and improve the ecological health of the Mississippi River in the 21st century.
STREAMLINES is about the sheer unfiltered experience of direct contact with the river and river life, in many ways, atmultiple moments. And it’s about weaving these experiencesback into the everyday city. STREAMLINES is also a project about working ecologies, ecological systems and dynamics putto work to clean, to re-constitute this working riverfront, andto guide a longer-term transformation of the city fabric.
Michael R. Van Valkenburgh received the Brendan Gill Prize for the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
SOURCE: The Harvard Crimson