For any city that wants to remain vibrant, transit is a top priority. But many cities today are taking transit beyond just providing a means of getting from one location to another. Known as Open Transit Design, the concept incorporates the design of a transportation hub into an iconic place that enhances urban life. Minneapolis is heralding the opening of Target Field Station, the city’s newest transit hub designed with Open Transit Design principles. Granite is used as a primary element throughout its landscape design.
An Inspired Concept
Known as Target Field Station, this major light-rail transit hub is located at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, and at the edge of city’s downtown central business district. A design-build project by Knutson Construction of Minneapolis and Perkins Eastman of New York, the $85-million Target Field Station is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2014. As the nexus of the Twin Cities’ transit system, the station forms a natural connection point and is part of the Metropolitan Council’s 2030 transit plan. With a Great Lawn, an amphitheater and adjacent mixed-use development, Target Field Station is poised to become the center for pre-game concerts, neighborhood gatherings, festivals, movie nights, individual gatherings and much more.
“We worked directly with the area residents and business owners to develop Urban Design Guidelines for this project,” said Dan Kenney, Executive Director of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, the public entity that owns Target Field. “It’s very gratifying to see that collective vision become reality. Target Field Station is a great addition to the neighborhood.”
The amphitheater and its seating area forms what is called The Cascade. Project architects took inspiration from the St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, which tumble over granite and natural stone, and selected granite as a building material throughout the design.
Mesabi Black® granite in Diamond® 10 and Diamond® 8 finishes (both highlighting the stone’s crystals) from Coldspring form seat walls at Station Square and the Great Lawn, planter wall caps and the wall facing Station Square at The Cascade. In total, 2,400 square feet of granite was used to complete the project. Granite provided the durable, maintenance-free material required by this project.
“Granite is a 50- to 100-year product, and this is a 50-year structure at least,” said George Fantauzza, Project Architect for owner Hennepin County. “It fit the nature of the long-term expectations for the project.”
Part of the public nature of the project involved procuring a public artist for the amphitheater. The art was funded by the Minnesota Ballpark Authority.
“The artist wanted to complete his sandblast murals on a very dark black stone with little variegation, and Coldspring had the Mesabi Black, which was what the artist wanted,” said Fantauzza “Plus, the granite supplier was local so we had more control. Keeping the stone within a 500-mile radius has helped us meet LEED criteria for the project.”
St. Paul artist Craig David designed three murals for the backdrop to the amphitheater’s seating area. David’s artwork encompasses three themes that correspond to three themes of the station’s design – transit, sustainability and gathering.
According to David, the design motifs within the murals are based upon the two-dimensional design technique of petroglyphs, or pictographs. His goal with the pieces, collectively called “City Glyphs,” is to create abstracted, flattened forms that depict figures and imagery in a symbolic, primordial style with a contemporary twist.
“I decided to be exuberant with content,” said David. “This is a three-tone, three-value image – the black of the stone, white and then an in-between value. Since there’s not a lot of contrast, we are highlighting, but very lightly so it looks natural. I didn’t want a “painted” look, so I thought if it’s going to be subtle, it needs more movement. That’s why it’s dynamic.” David initially created paintings on wood panels using acrylic paint. His paintings were then digitized and sent to Coldspring. Deciding what process to use to transfer the artwork onto the stone provided a challenge. Both stenciling and mil masking were considered, but mil masking was selected due to its ability to create the tiny dot (halftone) pattern in the imagery David created.
Coldspring worked closely with David and his graphic designer Alan Svoboda through the process of coordinating the digital artwork. Getting the digital files together was a real challenge and required close communication between Coldspring and David, who had never used a computer for his artwork. In the end, the result is an extraordinary visual experience.
“Having public art is wonderful. If you can make a place a special place with some iconography, it becomes something unforgettable,” said David. “I feel these works are making a contribution to the betterment of the community. It’s social art and goes beyond the aesthetic. . It belongs to everybody.”
With another train in the plans for Minneapolis, a billion-dollar investment known as the Green Line, arrivals and departures are set to double in the city. Target Field Station had to be complete before the Green Line could begin operating.
“Because our granite supplier is local, they’re able to get the product when we need it,” said Fantauzza. “That was important because it’s such a fast-track project. I’ve worked with Coldspring before, and they have a good reputation for meeting the schedule and delivering high quality.”
Schedule has been met, despite one of the coldest winters on record in Minnesota. In total, 50 days dropped below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. And with the cold of winter behind them, the citizens of Minneapolis will find the public space at Target Field a welcome sight this summer. “Target Field Station is very unique in what it does for the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Fantauzza. “It’s not just a destination. It will become an event area. This project isn’t just about transit. It’s about community. The granite is going to be the backdrop for every person that walks through this public space. Over the course of its lifetime, millions of people will see and experience it.”