The Public Art Master Plan for the Midtown Greenway Corridor: Resonant Journey

"The bridge design plan is the perfect example of combining pure function with aesthetic beauty. This is an incredible opportunity with uniquely definable and identifiable purpose." - Nate Garvis

The incorporation of public art in the redevelopment of the Midtown Greenway Corridor has been a top priority of the Midtown Community Works Partnership since its inception. Consistent with the overall design and development of the Corridor, public art will bring forth the history of the Greenway and emphasize the individual characteristics of the neighborhoods while allowing them to be uniquely tied together. 

A Plan with Purpose
As a critical component of the Greenway’s development design, the integration of pubic art required a formalized plan and implementation strategy. The MCW Partnership received a $100,000 grant from the Bush Foundation and hired the Freeman Whitehurst Group, a Phoenix-based consulting team specializing in the planning, policy and management of public art and local arts agencies, to develop a public art master plan. “This project has a national audience,” stated Gretchen Freeman. “The opportunity that exists in the linear and bridged nature of the Midtown Greenway exists in no other American city that we’re aware of.”

The Public Art Master Plan is an encompassing framework model that provides detailed thought and recommendations for every area of focus along the Greenway. It captures the essence, and embraces the history, of the Corridor while integrating the distinct needs of the various investors, local officials and community members involved in its planning. “The partnership between the public and private stakeholders in this project was vital,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin acknowledged. “Each person at the table on this was instrumental in its success.” 

One of the most unique opportunities and intensive recommendations of the Public Art Master Plan is the redesign of the 40 bridges that cross the Greenway and connect its neighborhoods. The proposal, spanning 30 years, states that the bridges represent the literal and figurative “bridging” of the communities and neighborhoods of the Corridor and is the single-most significant public art and design opportunity within the Greenway. “The bridge design plan is the perfect example of combining pure function with aesthetic beauty,” said Nate Garvis. “This is an incredible opportunity with uniquely definable and identifiable purpose.” 

Building on History, Planning for the Future
The plan stresses the importance of preserving rare urban amenities, and highlights the significance of public art in urban design and development. “The Public Art Master Plan sets an important precedent for public art policy,” said Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. “It will serve as an educational tool as well as a guide of implementation for public art well into the future.”

Bestowing a voice upon both the Greenway and its residents, the Public Art Master Plan provides the communities and neighborhoods of the Greenway with the opportunity to create visual representation of their rich diversity and history. “The Office of Cultural Affairs intends to use this plan as a ‘primer’ for all other projects within the city,” stated Noel James, Director. “That’s how good we think it is.”

This photograph from the Public Art Master Plan of a family at the Powderhorn Farmer’s Market is one of many used to illustrate the Greenway's history and reflect the many cultures of people that live there. Photo by Tim Francisco

This photograph from the Public Art Master Plan of a family at the Powderhorn Farmer’s Market is one of many used to illustrate the Greenway's history and reflect the many cultures of people that live there. Photo by Tim Francisco