Minneapolis's Building Boom

courtesy Guthrie Theater

Guthrie Theater

Last spring, when the Walker Art Center unveiled a $74 million addition by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, it was only the beginning of Minneapolis's architectural moment.

There's the Central Library's new home by Cesar Pelli, a $139 million glass-and-limestone building on the south end of Minneapolis's pedestrian mall. A café and bookstore open off the soaring Library Commons atrium, where there's an Egyptian-marble floor with inlaid glass and marble designs by artist Lita Albuquerque. The collection is spread across four floors, and reading areas have fireplaces with mantels by local artists (300 Nicollet Mall, 612/630-6000, mpls.lib.mn.us).

South of downtown, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a three-story wing by Michael Graves opens June 11. The $50 million Jura-limestone addition creates 40 percent more space for the multiethnic and modernist collections. The architect's signature aesthetic can be seen in the maple trim and doors accenting stark white walls that surround a three-story rotunda (2400 Third Ave. South, 612/870-3200, artsmia.org, free).

Less than two weeks later, the new residence of the Guthrie Theater will be inaugurated. The $125 million complex, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, features ghostly images of past productions printed on the blue steel exterior of the 10-story building. A 100-foot-long escalator leads to a fourth-floor lobby, from which an enclosed walkway is cantilevered 178 feet (about half a block) toward the Mississippi River. At the end, an outdoor terrace has an unparalleled view of the river and St. Anthony Falls. Nouvel calls the walkway "the endless bridge." The fourth floor contains two main theaters: a 1,100-seat one and a 700-seat one. A third theater, with just 250 seats, is on the ninth floor. It has its own windowed lobby, constructed entirely of yellow glass (818 Second St. South, 612/377-2224, guthrietheater.org).

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