An awesome new video from the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
One of our fair readers pointed out that in our blog post below we omitted Yamasaki’s ING building at 20 Washington Ave as one of the better structures emerging from the destruction of the 1960s. We totally agree and seek forgiveness based on the fact that there are no skyways to 20 Washington Ave – so we rarely make our way over there.
The Minneapolis interpretation of the Parthenon, the ING Building terminates Nicollet Mall on the north end. In 1964, Seattle-born architect Minuro Yamasaki (best known for his design of the Twin Towers in New York) designed the temple-like structure for the company that when then known as the Northwestern National Life Insurance Company (later Reliastar, and now ING).
There are two other Yamasaki buildings that are less beautiful but are skyway connected (100 and 111 Washington Ave – all three were sold in 2008 to a partnership of Hines Interests and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System). In fact, 100 Washington reminds me of the Pixar short where a big bird lands on a telephone wire, where the skyway stretches unbowed by the weight on its way to The Churchill apartments.
With the recent renaming of One Financial Plaza to Canadian Pacific Plaza – we thought this would be a good time to take a moment and reflect upon the building’s architectural style and the fact that it is an example of something done right in a decade when many architectural gems in Minneapolis were torn down. Built in 1960, the building’s International Style, an unadorned name for an unadorned style, came about in the 1920s and 1930s and was defined by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson in a book based on the following characteristics:
- the expression of volume rather than mass
- the emphasis on balance rather than preconceived symmetry
- and the expulsion of applied ornament
Designed by Holabird Root & Burgee, with Thorshov & Cerny, and the only International Style building in Minneapolis, Canadian Pacific Plaza has all of the requisite traits beginning with minimalist detailing and a low-slung 5-story base and a slim 28-story tower off-set favoring the Second Avenue side.
It looks diminutive and almost tucked away amongst its towering neighbors of USBank Plaza, Capella Tower, and the Fifth Street Towers. But, it must have seemed very modern as the first big building in post-WWII Minneapolis. The only other notable building built downtown in the 60s is McGladrey Plaza (formerly Midwest Plaza) — and notable only because it was the fictional office of Mary Tyler Moore.
Part of the renovation in 1981, the spacious plaza was clipped but still allowing for a tennis court to fit during the Aquatennial - one of our favorite lunch-time activities in July.
Next door is the Soo Line Building, where 400 CP employees had been officing (since 1915) and have now moved to Canadian Pacific Plaza. Meanwhile, the Soo Line Building is being renovated into condominiums.
While One Financial Plaza was opening it’s doors, just two blocks down the Metropolitan Building was being razed. What a contrast.
4th of July is just around the corner already! We are obviously not keeping up with our blog very well, but we are keeping with skyway edits the best we can. Keep sending updates in all you skyway dwellers!
I must say I swelled with pride (how could you not with that sound track?) watching this video (click on photo below). Nevermind that it doesn’t mention our winters or our skyways – it’s a job well done, even if you don’t fly around in a helicopter.
The age old skyway debate has flared up again in the Star Tribune this week (see links below for the back and forth), but this time with an interesting twist – comparing Minneapolis to, of all cities, Venice; our skyways to their calles (pedestrian streets) and our streets to their canals.
It’s less of a stretch to compare our skyway network to Toronto’s network of tunnels. Like Minneapolis, Toronto is cold (20 degrees F on average in January compared to our 16). And, they boast of 17 miles of “shopping arcades” rivaling the West Edmonton Mall for retail shopping (does our skyway rival the Mall of America?). I just about booked airfare when I read that the Toronto PATH, as it’s called, hosts the world’s largest underground sidewalk sale! No thanks. I’ll take the Minneapolis Skyway Open over a sidewalk sale.
Public or Private?
Like St. Paul’s skyway system, Toronto PATH is government owned and maintained, whereas, Minneapolis skyways are privately owned. In fact, owners of the Accenture Tower just spent $3M on a new skyway (not to mention the $3M for the land underneath) hoping for higher rent from tenants. Unlike St. Paul’s city-owned skyways, Minneapolis features unique bridges designed by world-class architects and designers. Two of my favorites are Philip Johnson’s IDS skyways and Siah Armajani’s Wells Fargo bridge across Marquette Ave. They’re not only a pleasure to walk across in January, but they are pleasing to the street viewer as well.
Skyways – Like Minnesotans – Are Practical
Critics have long said that our skyways deprive our streets of vibrancy and street-level retail. But, in the winter months, it’s just practical to use the skyways. You avoid the street traffic and most importantly you don’t have to bring your parka, hat, and mittens to grab a sandwich. On the other hand, in the summertime, Nicollet Mall is alive with patios and the farmers’ market as well as welcomed influx of gourmet food trucks.
It’s been 50 years since Ed Baker built the first skyway in Minneapolis, and I for one am glad he did.
- Eric Roper’s article “Maze of Minneapolis skyways: A dead end?”
- Robert D. Sykes, associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota, writes “Instead of dissing Minneapolis skyways, look to Venice“
- James Eli Shiffer blog post “The first skyway was really a sigh-way”
- And finally Rob Godfrey’s orny letter to the editor
The 84th skyway in Minneapolis is now open for business! The new span connects Ameriprise and Accenture Tower over 3rd Avenue. It opened at 6am Friday, December 30th. CBRE, the building manager for Accenture Tower is working with the Mayor’s office for an official ribbon cutting ceremony.
We spoke with Leith Dumas, the designer of the skyway. He has designed many of the skyways in Minneapolis, but interestingly none in St. Paul. Dumas wasn’t sure but he thinks the Ameriprise to Capella Tower skyway was the last skyway to be built ten years ago. His next project is reconnecting the “Skyway to Nowhere” in the 5th Street Towers where a new residential tower is being built on the site of the old Powers building, now a parking lot.
Opus broke ground on the new skyway on October 10th, so it took less than three months and three million dollars to build not including the land which the California Teachers’Retirement fund (CALTRS), owners of the Accenture Tower, had to buy from Opus. Unlike St. Paul where the city owns the skyways, CALTRS will own and operate the skyway. The skyway features 11 ft. glass walls, heated floors, making it the most comfortable skyway in Minneapolis. They say they’ll keep the regular skyway hours:
- M-F 6:30 a.m. – 10 p.m
- Sat 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m
- Sun noon – 6 p.m
About Accenture Tower
- 31 stories (not including mechanical levels) completed in 1987
- Originally conceived as a two tower project, only the east tower was built.
- This tower has gone through several name changes. Formerly Lincoln Center, it was renamed the Metropolitan Center. Its largest tenant, Andersen Consulting, loaned its name to the tower, but it changed its name to Accenture, so the tower did too, its fourth name change in just over 15 years.
- The building is also connected via skyway to the 701 Building and the Campbell Mithun Tower
- The Senator Hotel used to be on this site (unfortunately I can’t find any pictures)
About the Ameriprise Building
- Also 31 stories
- Opened in April 2000 as the new headquarters of American Express Financial Advisors, which moved from the IDS
- The Ameriprise building is also connected by skyway to Capella Tower and Baker Center
- The old Lutheran Brotherhood building was demolished to make way for this tower (pictured below)
Given the time of year, we thought we’d call attention to St. Olaf’s, the only skyway-connected church in Minneapolis. Regardless of your religious affiliation, if you need a quiet place to think and reflect, this is probably the most quiet and beautiful place on the skyway.
Located on the corner of Second Avenue South and Eighth Street, St. Olaf is the third church built on this site. The first was a Protestant church, The Church of the Redeemer, built in 1876. But, just twelve years after being built, it was destroyed by fire. A second Church of the Redeemer was built in 1889 (pictured). It served as home for the Universalist Society until 1941 when it was sold to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for $112,500. After extensive remodeling, it was dedicated as St. Olaf Catholic church on June 1, 1941. The name, St. Olaf, commemorating the eleventh century warrior-saint, was chosen because of the city’s large Scandinavian population.
Twelve years later, disaster struck again and the building was destroyed by fire on February 18, 1953. Thorshov and Cerny were commissioned to build the new church. Their modernist design features Mankato-Kasota stone enclosing an elongated hexagon with high windows illuminating the nave.
The most dramatic feature from the outside is the bell tower with its nine bells, founded in 1882 by Meeneley Bell Works (link to an old video of bell making at Meenely) of Troy, New York, which survived the two fires. After each fire, they were replaced in their new steeple.
The most dramatic feature on the inside is the leaded glass windows. Starting in 1972, stained glass windows were installed throughout the Church. Designed by Robert Leader, from the University of Notre Dame, and fabricated by Reinarts Art Glass Studios in Winona.
Taste Twin Cities Food Tours has opened up a new food tour starting in November. Where? If it wasn’t in the skyways would we care? (I guess I would, I love food). The Minneapolis Skyway Food Tour is three hours long, on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2:30pm. It includes five stops, beginning at LaSalle Plaza and ending at Metro Building. More details on the website, check it out, sign up and let us know what you thought of the tour.