Minneapolis ballpark and surrounding area weaves itself neatly into city life
To understand Target Field’s purposeful design takes a lesson in its urban setting. Before it was a Major League ballpark, the site was residual urban space; a piece of land time forgot. Wedged into just more than eight acres, and smaller than 95 percent of existing professional ballparks, the site was defined by a labyrinth of city elements; industrial artifacts, high-rise buildings, an interstate highway, viaduct bridges, bypass on-ramps, sunken creeks, the Skywalk system, parking garages, freight train, commuter and light rail lines, bike trails, billboards, overhead electric lines and a waste incinerator plant. The planning goal was to create a dynamic public space from the 3-dimensional chaos.
Site constraints - of both the physical building limitations and the size itself – defined the ballpark. As the design team’s answer to the need for more programmable space, pedestrian bridge spaces such as Target Plaza connect the ballpark with its downtown surroundings. Target Plaza is a year-round, pedestrian-orientated celebration of baseball in Minnesota that serves as a public front door to the ballpark and transitions fans from the grit of downtown to the anticipation of game day.
The design team also coordinated with multiple city, state and government entities to open space for the ballpark, including working with the BNSF Railway to move its rail line 63 feet beyond its existing location. Because the ballpark was designed to be so ingrained into the fabric of downtown Minneapolis, it was only fitting the city’s public transit system be extended to the ballpark’s front doors. This required the design team’s careful coordination with Metro Transit to design modern baseball’s first fully integrated transit stop inside the ballpark’s footprint. In addition to transit, the site also can be accessed by bus, bike trails, walking trails, the city’s skyway system or the nearly 27,000 existing parking spaces within a half-mile of the ballpark.
Nestled snugly on the edge of downtown’s Warehouse District, the ballpark’s exterior design is a measured response to the historic brick buildings nearby. Traditional ballpark vernacular would have blended the ballpark into brick oblivion, Rather than designing the expected, the design team created a cosmopolitan expression of the state’s natural beauty, where stone and glass were chiseled and sculpted to create a modern home for the Minnesota Twins.
Unlike the desolation of 10 years ago, today’s northwestern edge of downtown Minneapolis has a new energy provided by Target Field. It is the much-needed stitch for a new urban fabric, extending downtown by two city blocks and enhancing the city’s outdoor presence.