Gold Medal Park is located in Minneapolis` historic Mill District, sited on 7.5 acres immediately adjacent to the Mississippi River and Jean Nouvel`s new Guthrie Theatre. Working in concert with Nouvel, oslund.and.assoc. design for the Guthrie called for the more formal plantings on the plinth surrounding the theater to give way to more languid and organic forms as they moved to what would become Gold Medal Park. The design intention was to create an unprogrammed recreational space that would allow for myriad uses. This experience was created by interpreting the river landscape in a contemporary manner. Paths curving through the park abstract the dendritic pathways formed by water as it flows across a flat landscape toward the river channel. Individual straight pathways of varying lengths lead to individual custom-designed benches, juxtaposing an abstraction of the city grid onto green open space. The focal point of the park is a sculptural observation mound – 32 feet in height – with a Cor-ten steel lined spiral walkway leading to a bosque of trees and seating at the apex which offers great prospect out over the Stone Arch Bridge, the Mississippi River, and the Minneapolis skyline. The unique aspect of the observation mound is that it is also the solution for the on-site environmental remediation that had to occur during construction. Contamination from the various past uses needed remediation. Thinking about this park as not only a contribution to the city`s green space legacy, but also to its focus on sustainability, the solution was to encapsulate the contaminated soil that arose from the historic land uses inside the observation mound. The park includes close to 300 mature trees, all hand-selected, and between 6”-10” in diameter. The entire oeuvre of site furnishings – benches, pedestrian lighting, utility screening, and trash receptacles - were custom-designed by oslund.and.assoc. for this project. Twenty sustainably-harvested Ipe wood benches line the edges of the park and the top of the observation mound; the benches are lit from within with blue LED lights during the evening hours, adding a unique ephemeral quality to the park throughout the night. Gold Medal Park also was incredibly efficient in its construction timetable – from parking lot to park in just over 3 months. In the short time since its grand opening on May 16, 2007, the park has become a well-loved and well-used public open space for Minneapolitans. The park became the de facto viewing locale and temporary memorial for the I-35W bridge collapse in August, 2007. We feel this near-to-immediate sense of ownership taken by the citizenry, paired with the embrace of the park as a key place for community gathering is a wonderful sign that something timeless has been offered up for the people of Minneapolis to use for generations.

Constructed, 2007


Old - ASLA Minnesota Chapter Merit Award in 2007