Following up my post on Minneapolis architect James Dayton being named one of AIA’s young architects of the year, here’s an interview from Walker in which Design Director Andrew Blauvelt discusses the hows and whys of Minneapolis’ ascension as a design “mecca.” A snippet:
When I travel around the country, people ask me if it’s real or just hype. I do think there is something interesting happening now–and has been for quite awhile. In some ways there has always been a strong design tradition in this area, but more recently we have seen so much activity along a number of fronts simultaneously: more high-profile designers and architects, more interest by businesses in the value of design, and even a larger audience for design. To me it’s about critical mass. The Twin Cities area is small enough that you meet other designers pretty easily, big enough not to feel provincial, and deep enough to encourage diversity. There’s a great ecology of design here that spans all sectors and scales. For instance, you see national brands like Design Within Reach opening a shop along with eclectic places such as Robot Love or redlurered, which exist in the same environment that spawned Room & Board. There is a strong entrepreneurial sensibility as well among practitioners such as Process Type Foundry or Aesthetic Apparatus, and you also have major architectural firms such as HGA (Hammel, Green and Abrahamson) and MS&R (Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle) winning national awards and commissions alongside smaller offices such as James Dayton Design, Vincent James Associates Architects, David Salmela, and Julie Snow Architects. Many publications have used the major architectural projects going on around town as a springboard for their stories, which might be confusing cause and effect. I’d like to think that such projects happen because the ground is fertile enough to allow these kinds of works to grow.