Displayed from June 9 to September 12, 2012

On Sept. 12, the highly successful “Water Works Temporary: Feeding the Flyway” pop-up park finished its summer-long run at Mill Ruins Park in Minneapolis. The temporary park installation was designed and organized by the American Society of Landscape Architects Minnesota Chapter (ASLA-MN), in partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Parks Foundation, Homegrown Minneapolis, the Downtown Improvement District, and local design, landscape, equipment and environmental firms.

Water Works Temporary (WWT) was installed at the western end of the historic Stone Arch Bridge in downtown Minneapolis, a popular bike and pedestrian crossing of the Mississippi River.  The location is the centerpiece of the revitalization of Minneapolis’s historic Milling District, the leading world producer of flour in the 19th century.  Remnants of the era’s stone and iron infrastructure are a major tourist attraction, creating a need for seating, resting, and gathering spaces for the 1.6 million people who visit the Central Riverfront annually. The Mill City Farmer’s Market, Aquatennial Celebration, bike and walking trails, and large community events also draw visitors to this area. In addition, the site provides an important resting place for migrating birds moving up and down the great Mississippi “flyway” from Canada to Mexico.

ASLA-MN’s design efforts for WWT focused on celebrating the Mississippi River, horticulture, and the creation of inviting public spaces in an historic urban context.  The WWT “outdoor room” featured giant aluminum container gardens filled with swamp white oak trees, prairie grasses, and flowering native plants; large wooden beams arranged as benches; and a demonstration of floating island technology by Midwest Floating Island, LLC. Floating islands are a type of constructed wetland that aid in improving water quality and can be used in rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Plants, materials, and equipment for WWT were donated by several local vendors, and installation was done by ASLA-MN volunteers. In June, the pop-up park hosted artist Wil Natzel’s installation “Night Blooms” as part of the Northern Spark Festival, an all-night celebration of art on the riverfront that drew over 20,000 spectators. Visitors enjoyed reclining on WWT’s benches, interacting with the floating island and plants, and taking in the sweeping views of downtown and the Mississippi River. With the completion of the project, ASLA gave the donated plants and materials to the Park Board to be replanted in parks and gardens throughout the city.