Newspaper article

Can You Tell the Difference between the New and Old Nicollet Mall Redesigns?

Newspaper article

Can You Tell the Difference between the New and Old Nicollet Mall Redesigns?

Article excerpt

How do you cut $20 million from a major street reconstruction project design without people noticing...


For designers -- and now redesigners of the $50 million Nicollet Mall project in downtown Minneapolis hope you keep your eyes on the prize ... and off of the ground. That's where the new design will shift out concrete pavers for poured concrete.

James Corner, of the project's lead architect James Corner Field Operation, said last week the choice was to make smaller cuts in many elements of the design or concentrate on larger savings in one area. He chose to recommend the latter, in order to retain "the big moves."

"The big moves for us with Nicollet Mall was always to ensure that it was pedestrian friendly, it was a people friendly street," Corner said. "We didn't want to do anything in terms of altering the pedestrian-friendly characteristics of the street."

As for landscaping, "we've not had to remove one tree or scale down the size of trees we were specifying." And none of the structures will be changed from the designs put out for bid. Neither will the lighting or signage, street furniture or plantings.

So nothing will change from the ground up -- but everything will change on the ground. Rather than have a complex design of individual pavers of varying shapes, patterns and colors, the project will use poured concrete -- or as Corner calls it "cast-in- place concrete."

"As a number of people have said, the first thing you think of is the banality of your typical roadway or your typical sidewalk," Corner said. "But we actually have used poured concrete on a number of important public realm and private or corporate projects very successfully."

"We believe there are ways to work with poured concrete that are very creative and will produce a really elegant and durable surface," Corner said. His new design will use different shades, shapes and patterns. Saw cuts will be used in some areas to give the appearance of individual slabs of stone. Drive lanes, walking areas, seating areas and planting areas will be delineated.

"I still feel very positive that we have a great scheme," Corner said. …

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