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The Minneapolis and St. Paul circuitry

In 1991 the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul launched an open competition for an idea to create a major monument at the entrance gate of the twin cities

25 November 2020
Year :
Location :
Minneapolis & St Paul

Our proposal was to build a large plaza made of glass and steel structure based on the city map.

Our project for designing this proposal started with several analyses of the geographical, historical, meteorological, and local mobility conditions.

The twin cities were created along the Mississippi River in the North of the United States. It is a rich and organized state inhabited by many European Nordic migrants. The cities are nestled along the meanders of the Mississippi in the State of Minnesota. St Paul is its capital. The temperature in the winter goes very low and lasts a long time like in the Northern European countries. In the winter most people don’t go out. Their mobility takes place between cars, subways, underground and above ground passageways from building to building, always inside and protected from the cold. In the summer green nature and water are very present. Minnesota means sky color water in the language of the Sioux, the Dakotas.

All these constraints lead us to design this large public underground garden plaza with a skylight which structure is based on the map of the streets, highways, and river of the region. The design of the streets system being organized like a computer chip, with orthogonality and repetitions, this allows the structural feasibility of the skylight.

The triangular skylight is slightly tilted to allow an entrance to underground activities such as shopping, restaurants, and a garden. The site is connected to the subway system and to the adjacent building by elevators and protected corridors.

As one circulates underneath the skylight one can discover his/her own city map but inverted. Then, as the Sioux said, the color of the rivers is the color of the sky.

We knew that our project might not be chosen since it was totally outside the financial framework for monumental sculpture. Instead, we chose to think about the city.


Ingrid Hustvedt, architect
Françoise Schein


Villes jumelles Minneapolis et St. Paul.