New Minneapolis Park Connects City to the Mississippi River

The newly built Water Works Park and Pavilion incorporates elements of historic mills and provides amenities long absent from the city's waterfront.

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November 24, 2021, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Water Works at Mill Ruins Park

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board / Water Works at Mill Ruins Park

Architecture critic Linda Mack describes Minneapolis' newest park, a "triumph" of redevelopment on the Mississippi River waterfront that finally gives residents a way to enjoy the view while having access to amenities like seating and public restrooms.

Built within the walls of two former mills, Water Works Park and Pavilion features walkways, benches, a playground, and the city's first Native American restaurant, a fitting tenant for a site that was sacred to the Dakota before white settlers came to the area. The development blends old and new elements to preserve sections of the historic buildings and utilize the remnants of the old mills to highlight the site's history as the engine of the city's economic growth. Mack writes,

Damon Farber Landscape Architects led the design team with HGA designing the pavilion, MacDonald and Mack as historic consultants, and the 106 Group as archaeologists. The Healing Place Collaborative brought in Dakota artists and language experts to design covers for the fire pits and interpret the rainwater collection and use of Native plants.

The property was purchased by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in 1987, but sat in disrepair until a plan to build the park and pavilion finally took shape in 2011.

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