Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
European Prize for Architecture laureates Henning Larsen Architects, along with MSR Design and Coen + Partners, has completed the new Minneapolis Public Service Building rooted in democratic transparency and connectedness as the newest addition to the civic buildings in downtown Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis Public Service Building has recently been awarded a 2022 International Architecture Awards Honorable Mention by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
Developed in close partnership with the City of Minneapolis and public advocates, the building is the latest in a new coalition of civic architecture conceived around the question: “How can our public spaces better reflect the communities they serve?”
It starts with openness.
The historic, granite buildings that comprise Minneapolis’s Government District offer a stately yet opaque architectural vision of civic duty, engagement, and transparency.
Traditionally, the architecture parlante approach to civic design required stylistic solemnity, but the new Minneapolis Public Service building offers a contemporary alternative.
The soaring glass and aluminum facades that wrap the Public Service Building are a welcoming, bright face in the quad.
Double height pockets are carved from the building, breaking up its massing and giving each of its frontages a distinctive presence.
Easy public access also helps to extend an invitation to the public.
Bus and light-rail stations pass by and drop off next to the new building, offering easy access to the building from across the city.
A large feature stair in the entry foyer provides inviting public space that, even if not physically connected to the square outside, is visually linked to life on the street.
On the building’s second floor, an extra lobby plugs the 370,000-square-foot building into the city’s second sidewalk: Minneapolis’ sprawling network of skyways.
The themes of transparency and connection continue inside, even as access slowly switches from open to the public to more secured workplaces.
The office floors—levels 3 to 10—contain daylit workspaces and enclosed offices, quiet spaces for personal time, improved indoor air quality, and top-floor conference space, cafe, and terrace.
Once scattered across various buildings in the city, 10 city departments and 1,200 employees are brought together in one building.
Today, employees are just as likely to meet in transit as they are in meetings: the communicating stairs in double height spaces trace their way through the building as they ascend, their landings expanded to serve as additional breakout spaces.
In a government building requiring high security, the design still feels open and airy at every turn.
The needs of employees don’t take a backseat to the concept.
There is ample space for group and private work, public and private meetings across the building, and employees are encouraged to meet and share space with colleagues in neighboring departments.
By keeping the floors and stairwells open, light is also brought into the building’s core, connecting employees to the outdoors.
Crowning the building, an expansive rooftop offers views across downtown Minneapolis, the Mississippi River, and into twin city St. Paul.
The best civic spaces are not merely the amenities they provide or the facilities they contain but should be judged by what they encourage the people they serve to achieve.
Transparency of mission and public trust in institutions will be fundamental as the City of Minneapolis begins to craft its new, collective, reflective, and pluralistic course for the future.
Project: Minneapolis Public Service Building
Architects: Henning Larsen Architects
Design Director: Michael Sørsensen
Design Partner: Nina LaCour Sell
Project Director: Mike McElderry
Senior Architects: Stephanie Rogowski and Sara Rubenstein
Design Team: Andreas Brunvoll, Tessira Crawford, Mark David Hocking, Grant McCracken, Christian Bøggild Schuster, Yuye Peng, and Royce Perez
Associate Architects: MSR Design
Design Partner: Matthew S. Kruntorád
Project Architect: Eric Amel
Project Managers: Alan Hillesland and Dan Vercruysse
Design Team: Byoungjin Lee, Brendan Gill Sapienza, Ken Martin, Mitch Karr, Benjamen Schwarz, Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, Caitlin Maus-Grussing, Brian Charles Davis, Matthew Mahoney, and Sara Du
Landscape Architects: Coen + Partners
General Contractor: Mortenson Company
Client: City of Minneapolis
Photographers: Corey Gaffer Photography