What are the benches facing at? 


We have learned in class that people like to sit where there are other people around. I found interesting that in the park in front of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, all the benches are facing different directions. In some places it even looks like they have been purposely set to be facing in a direction from which you can’t see other benches. And not being able to see other benches from where you are sitting, returns to not being able to see other people from there. I think this might negatively impact the attractiveness of the park. And indeed, even though I went there during the week end, the park was totally empty.


The Midtown Global Market Place:

IMG_0676.JPGI think this place is aptly named: you can see people of different social groups (different ages, different social class, etc) and also find products from different countries. This is I think what makes it « global ». I also noticed that the tables are really close to each other, which I think enhances to talk to new people. Furthermore, there is no music playing, which I think drives people to speak to each other to avoid awkward silence (instead of just being on their phones as we often see in restaurants). So this building can definitely be considered an encountering place.

Nicollet Mall’s Plaza

IMG_1625This is one of the few encountering places I’ve seen during the field project. I found it interesting because it features some of the most important characteristics that make a plaza attractive:

First, people sit where they can, and there are plenty of benches there. You can even sit near the water, which leads me to my second point.

Second, people like seeing water and being able to touch it. Here the water is very accessible and kids could even go under the « waterfall » for fun (I don’t know if it’s allowed but if they want to they could do it).

Third, people like it when there is food nearby, and we can see there is a Bogart’s Doughnut Co.

And finally, people are attracted by other people. Therefore, people are going to sit where there are other people around. And because this is a big mall, there is a constant flow of people entering the mall, leaving the mall, and going from one shop to another.

Why « 1st »?

This building caught my attention because of the big «1st » sign it has on the roof. When I got back home I did some research to understand the sign. Turns out that this is the First National Bank Building, built in 1915. It was the tallest skyscraper in St Paul until the Wells Fargo Place exceeded it. Interesting fact: it has the tallest connecting skyway in the Twin Cities.

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Revitalization of the CBD

The Xcel Energy Center is an example of revitalization of downtown St Paul. As a multi-purpose arena, it both holds sports and entertainment events. The whole block looks to have benefited from investments to revitalize the CBD: the arena is situated next to the River Centre convention facility, The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The arena is called after it’s sponsor, Xcel Energy, whom we could consider to be part of the Growth machine.


Beautiful Entrance

The Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse is a skyscraper built during the Great Depression. Because of the economic recession, cost of labor and materials dropped so the remaining budget has been used to buy finer materials to embellish the building. It’s Art Deco style is known as “American Perpendicular ». What caught my eye are the relief sculptures we can see in this entrance (North), carved by Lee Lawrie. It shows a regular street scene full of people that refers to the Vox Populi. Both the rural and urban population of Ramsey County are represented on this sculpture.


Wonderful fall colors

The Irvine Park is a wonderful square with an old fountain in the middle and surrounded by Victorian style houses. I was surprised of how many leaves there were on the floor. In Barcelona or Paris, little washing trucks go to the squares every night to take the leaves out of there. But here it looks like no one has taken the leaves out since the beginning of fall. I was also surprised that no one else was there on a beautiful Sunday evening. I would have expected children playing there and people sitting on the benches, enjoying the sun while reading a book.