Minneapolis Walker Art Center goes green

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Minneapolis Walker Art Center goes green
Small groves of grees including pine, maple, honey locust and birch will dot the reshaped hillside west of the Walker and overlooking the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and downtown Minneapolis // Photo © Cameron Wittig

Positioning itself as a neighborhood green space and cultural gateway, Walker Art Center will add a new glass-walled entrance pavilion, groves of trees and acres of new grass as part of a $75 million project to be announced Tuesday.

“This plan envelops the whole building in a carpet of green,” said Walker director Olga Viso, who led the six-year planning effort.

The Walker’s plans are designed to unify a 19-acre cultural “campus,” including the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, that stands as an anchor and gateway to the theater and arts district that Minneapolis intends to develop along Hennepin Avenue to the Mississippi River.

The centerpiece is a pavilion on Walker’s north side with an expanded cafe and patios on Vineland Place opposite the Sculpture Garden. The grassy hill west of the building will remain an open field suitable for popular events like Rock the Garden and the Internet Cat Video Festival, but it will be recontoured and softened with small clumps of trees. A staircase beside the pavilion will provide access to hillside pathways and a new seasonal entrance to the Walker’s shop and theater.

On the east side, the concrete and granite plazas along Hennepin will be replaced by grassy berms, flowering trees and sidewalks.

Walker officials already have nearly $60 million in hand, including $10 million in public money.

Minneapolis philanthropists Margaret and Angus Wurtele, a Walker board member for more than 40 years, gave $20 million, the largest gift in the center’s history. Other board members and Walker supporters chipped in an additional $29.8 million. ….

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