Evaluation of the Stadium Village Green Line public space

A day in late June, when all the plants are green and leafy, is about the best time to assess a public space.

Admittedly, I was sitting in the public area of ​​Stadium Village on Washington Avenue – between the tracks near the Green Line station – on a Sunday, and also between the end of the spring term and the start of the first summer term, so there were fewer students around to animate it than there normally might be.

Otherwise, I think it was about the optimal time to observe the reality of space you might ask.

What was it like as a place to hang out, talk with a friend? What can it tell us about other spaces like this that some of us want in the future, like the vision for Twin Cities Boulevard?

First, there was wind. The tall buildings create a wind canyon effect, enough to blow my hat several times.

Second, not all plants were doing very well, which contributed to a feeling of neglect. I’ve seen much worse in many public places, but these are University of Minnesota plants, which generally take better care of public plants than anyone else. There were large gaps in areas that were probably supposed to be planted with Karl Foerster feathered reed, and the aronia berries looked sickly.

Many aronia shrubs are struggling to survive.

The Sorbary the plants seemed to be doing well. Overall, the plants selected for the region are low maintenance, but not all have been successful. Linden trees and pollarded ginkgo were interesting. While I don’t understand how they’ll ever shade the area, I can see that they need to stay tight for transit passage.

There must be a water source there, but I guess the plants have probably been left at the mercy of rainfall for the past seven or eight years, and last year’s drought would have been hard on them .

Third, the furniture was good, in general. The wooden benches are well made, comfortable and seem to have held up well in their approximately eight years. They complied with accessibility guidelines, as far as I can tell.

Modernist-inspired wooden benches, silver wood slats with Metro Transit buses passing in the background
The benches are comfortable, well-designed and seem to hold up well to the elements.

The tables didn’t fare as well. Their top paint is gone, but they’re still functional and not unsightly. The chairs are movable, though discreetly attached, and in better condition than the table tops, although the tables and chairs will soon need some maintenance.

Round metal table and four slatted chairs.  The top of the table is rusty, the chairs are silver.
The table tops show the effects of time, the chairs less, although they are beginning to do so.

Fourth, the noise level was okay. Passing trains and buses were neither distracting nor overwhelming. The only unpleasant noise was from an occasional helicopter (welcome to Minneapolis!).

Fifth, it’s a relatively narrow space, compared to what I think the spaces in the Twin Cities Boulevard design look like. With a dedicated transit lane on each side and no car traffic, it works. For Twin Cities Boulevard, with multiple lanes of traffic and especially with tractor-trailers in the mix, I think you have to think about what the edges of those public spaces are.

Overall, I like this central space on Washington Avenue much more than what it had before (two lanes of car traffic). But I also think it’s a good learning opportunity for landscape architects and planners to think about what needs to change and how maintenance needs to be done. and paid for in large-scale public space projects along the climate-sensitive streets of our future.

About Charles Holmes

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