Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Designed by Michael Hara and Robert Good of HGA Architects and Engineers and landscape architect Damon Farber, the Water Works Park and Pavilion is a 9,000-square-foot masterplan that eloquently intertwines the past with the present, located on the Mississippi River at the convergence of multiple cultural, physical, and spiritual histories.
On the exterior, rather than introduce foreign material to the project, the use of brick as the building’s primary cladding recalls the long history of masonry architecture while evoking a decidedly contemporary feel.
The first level’s arched glass entryway features original mill walls; the left is from the Bassett Mill, an old lumber and sawmill, and the right-hand side highlights a wall from the Columbia Flour Mill.
A 200 by 50 square-foot outdoor stone patio is lined with vertical railroad ties and echoes the original river and rail transportation while providing comfortable seating for park-goers, diners, and tourists alike.
Sited next to St. Anthony Falls, the site has a long, complicated past – one that spans precolonial, industrial, and post-industrial eras.
This project takes on an ideology of radical preservation by attempting to mine and preserve the multitude of different histories that occur at the site – physical histories, cultural histories, and spiritual histories.
Through the re-use of old, abandoned, and buried flour mill structures, the re-interpretation of historical tectonics, and the re-imagining of cultural memories, this project attempts to weave together its complicated history into a place that reflects all of its many stories.
The building and site offer a variety of amenities to visitors, including gender-neutral and accessible restrooms, which also include a Wudu, adult changing table, and mothers room, a lounge space, meeting room space, information desk, vertical circulation and new restaurant space for Owamni – Minneapolis’s first Native American restaurant owned and operated by the James Beard award-winning Sean Sherman.
The site also offers multiple places of respite, including outdoor terraces overlooking St. Anthony Falls and a variety of native plantings that the restaurant uses in its cuisine and education.
The project’s driving ethic was one of preservation – of physical, cultural, and spiritual preservation.
This meant mining the history of the site, buildings, and history in order to produce an intervention that was quiet, sensitive, and respectful of the myriad of memories from this place.
Project: Water Works Park Pavilion
Architects: HGA Architects and Engineers
Lead Architects: Michael Hara and Robert Good
Landscape Architects: Damon Farber Landscape Architects
Historical Consultants: MacDonald & Mack Architects
General Contractor: Hoffmann + Uhlhorn Construction, Inc.
Client: Minneapolis Parks Foundation
Photographers: Gaffer Photography