I was reading the Star Tribune today when I came across an article about the American Swedish Institute’s architectural design for the new $21.5 Million expansion and renovation they are planning. Now, I understand the trend in Minneapolis is to make every new building “modern” with some outrageous angular design that only an architect could come up with, but please, do we really have to have such a monstrosity next to a classic Beaux Arts historic mansion?
Now I mean no disrespect to the firm of Hammel Green and Abrahamson for their design, but to me it is quite ugly and just doesn’t fit with the historic aura of the property. Yes, yes, but they are building all “green” you might say…well, I simply don’t care. There seems to be a growing trend in Minneapolis and across the country that in order to justify new modern vernacular designs, everything about it has to be environmentally friendly. Each new building has to beat the last one built and go for the Gold LEED certification. For instance, the proposed structure will have a green roof with plants to absorb the rain water and 90 geo-thermal wells will be dug to heat and cool the building, but it still won’t make the building look any better. Hope all that drilling is architectural sound for the 102 year old building a few feet away.
Interestingly enough, a person on the team of architects is quoted as saying that one of the primary criterias that “drove the design…was respect for the mansion, so that the addition refers and defers to the historic structure and the plan keeps the mansion as its centerpiece.” Sorry, but when I drive by the historic Swan Turnblad mansion, I will no longer notice the grand castle, the proposed centerpiece of the Institute, but instead my eye will be drawn to the misplaced structure next to it.
If you just love modern design, please don’t shoot me. I can’t help it, I am a bigger fan of the classic historic stuff then I am of the new age design. After all, I write another blog about Minnesota Historic Homes. Modern design has its place, but just not next to a building like this limestone mansion on Park Avenue. I can only ask, what do you think about the design?