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More plans unveiled for Walker Art Center
By Euan Kerr
Minnesota Public Radio
April 16, 2002

An artist's view of the information lounge at an expanded Walker Art Center. See more images.
(Image courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron Images)

Architects for the Walker Art Center's $90 million expansion say they want to the building to be a link between different parts of the community, and different people within the community. If all goes to plan the Minneapolis arts center hopes to open its new doors on Hennepin Avenue in 2005

Walker Director Cathy Halbreich says the design reflects the changing nature of cultural institutions, which are now reaching out into the community. "One of the things we asked the architects to do was to design space that wasn't necessarily for performing arts, for film or for visual arts, but was for people" she said. "A place where people could converge just as the art forms converge to debate to converse to learn from each other."

Perhaps the most visible example of this are the designs for large windows, allowing pedestrians and motorists on the outside to look in and vice-versa. Also architects Jacques Herzog and and Christine Binswanger, of the Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron, say they are exploring the use of a transparent fabric cladding which will glow when lit from within.

"The Walker is like a platform where we try different things," Herzog told reporters.

The new parts of the Walker building will wrap around the existing structure, which was based on a sculptural form. The designers say the original form is a fine building, but represents the old style "hermetically sealed" approach to art and museums.

Architect Christine Binswanger says in Minnesota, it makes sense to develop the relationship between people and the climate where they live. "We try to do spaces where you feel comfortable, but you are in relation to the outside world", Binswanger said.

The design team also includes French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, who is a long-time admirer of what he calls "the Olmsted necklace," better known as the Minneapolis chain of lakes, the network of parks which have been a backbone of the city's development. "Obviously," he said, "we want this park to be part of the necklace."

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