Search
Generic filters
Search
Generic filters
Search
Generic filters

COWLES CONSERVATORY RENOVATION AT MINNEAPOLIS SCULPTURE GARDEN

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory, jointly operated by the Minneapolis Parks Department and the Walker Art Center, needed a radical makeover. The project engaged issues of current strategies for artistic production and exhibition, environmental sustainability, urban connectivity, and city parks operations. Working with Oslund and Associates (now O2) as project leaders, Snow Kreilich Architects collaborated on the conceptual design direction and the Cowles Conservatory renovation.

The Cowles Conservatory, a single-glazed greenhouse built almost 30 years ago, was an operating burden on the Parks Department and did not easily accommodate new works of art or community events. The brick paving floor system had settled into the poor subsoils of the former marshland to such a degree that the building was no longer fully accessible. The only restrooms serving the 13-acre sculpture Garden were housed within the Conservatory and needed mechanical and accessibility upgrades.

Our sustainable strategy was to recreate the conservatory as an open-air social space, a place to rest, connect with other patrons, house events and group uses within the garden. By removing the vertical glass walls and the restrooms connecting the three pavilions, the space becomes more embedded in the experience of the gardens and the art. Expanded accessible restrooms were added at the garden perimeter.

Heavy plantings were removed from the perimeter of the conservatory and the garden to connect the city to the garden to the conservatory. This visual connection and accessibility give the garden a more public presence, drawing many more visitors, and creating more social opportunity. The garden is seen as a vehicle to expand the Walker Art Center audience, an introduction to the collection, and the power of art to begin conversations, enhance our lives and to challenge ourselves as a community.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Share