New development in Minneapolis: Is it really as cookie-cutter as people say?

Categories: Minneapolis
Renderings from the city of Minneapolis's website
Proposed six-floor mixed-use Dinkytown development at the intersection of Fifth Street SE and 14tth Avenue SE.
Last week, Bill Lindeke posted a blog on Streets.MN entitled "Does New Minneapolis Architecture All Look The Same?"

To answer this worthwhile yet maddeningly subjective question, Lindeke surveyed three architects. Their responses ranged from the stoic to the adamant, and even drew a reference to a certain teen comedy.

SEE ALSO: Plans unveiled for another six-floor mixed-use Dinkytown development

Peter Crandall, a graduate student adviser at the University of Minnesota College of Design, criticized new developments for

dressing up what is essentially a wooden box with flashy features like aluminum siding or chunky overhands...If I may cite the eminently quotable film Clueless here, many of these developments are "full-on Monets." From a distance they're OK, but up close they're a big ole mess.
But in all seriousness: "What is lacking is a sensitivity to context."

In April 2012, Finance & Commerce looked at the same issue:
"I do think we need to challenge ourselves and ask whether we are stuck in a rut," said Jason Wittenberg, interim planning director for the Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development department.

Wittenberg is quick to point out, however, that apartment buildings of every generation tend to look like one another -- with good reason. The buildings reflect the materials and technology available at the time, as well as the building codes, market rental rates and community tastes.

"Developers have found a model that makes economic sense," he explains, adding that "for the most part the city doesn't dictate architectural style."
Let us know what you think. We took a drive through Minneapolis and snapped five pictures of the new developments we came across. See if you can identify these recent projects, and their locations, by sight alone. The first one should be easy.






All yours, David Brauer.

To find out if you correctly guessed where each development is, click through to the next page.

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Man, this is so sadly true. Some of them have a few nice touches, but much of it seems to be very boring modern styles that are almost as bland as the mid-late 1900's buildings that preceeded it.

Oh well, at least the North Loop has some style to it (partly because a lot of the neat buildings are in fact early 1900's, but heck, even the newer stuff there isn't "as" bad).


I never hear anyone complain that all of the buildings in Loring Park, or Stevens Community that where built within a 10-15 year time frame look "too much a like" or "cookie cutter" even though they are all essentially the same building, with slightly different entrances, and brick patterns at the crown... Most think they are lovely neighborhoods, and the similar architecture helps identify the period of the neighborhood, as well as tell the evolving architectural timeline of our city and it's neighborhoods. I argue that it's completely irrelevant if they look alike, and the more important question is are they being built with quality and doing a good job of maintaining the urban fabric of our city.

Shaun Mason
Shaun Mason

Same as Uptown, extremely similar to Miracle Mile (St. Louis Park), Mill City, Loop, ... etc, etc. Let's all raise a glass to conformity and propped up housing prices.

Mary Madeco-Smith
Mary Madeco-Smith

They remind me of buildings that eventually turn into sort of "slummy" type ones...easily run down and then tear down. No character at all. Box butt ugly.

swmnguy topcommenter

I only lived in an apartment for about 6 months, and that was the last building on 5th Avenue north of Franklin; right on the on-ramp to N. 35W and E-94.  Yes, I was about 20 years old and have about a buck-twenty in my pocket.  So I'm no expert.  But these new designs are better-looking than moderately-priced apartments were in the 70s and 80s, for sure.  Making a single building look like 3 or 4 congruent but separate buildings is a slightly cheesy conceit, but acknowledges that we don't all want to look at a homogenous blob.  I've always liked older spaces and am willing to deal with the inefficiency and inconvenience.  But that's just me; many people like a more contemporary surrounding.  These designs appear to be trying to create some unique, idiosyncratic spaces; to allow one to go inside and outside, have some decent light and fresh air.  I'd love to see better and different, but these aren't the worst we can see in a short walk, that's for certain.

Megan Humphries
Megan Humphries

They kind of look like the ones at excelsior and grand.


@citypages As one of these developers told me "it is what the market will bare". Thank you for article: we need to do better & demand more.

CinBlueland topcommenter

Yes, lets return to the days of the past. Have you seriously looked at older apartment buildings in Uptown, Mpls? no deck/patio.. stay inside of your tiny apt with two windows that get no air.  I don't want to hear "Incentive to get out and join the community" Maybe, just maybe I want to relax in peace for an hour after a days work. 

Or were you trying to give a nod to the genius who brought us the crack stacks? Those are every so pleasing to look at.


Yeah, they all look the same and there not all that aesthetically pleasing to look at either.  Is there any particular new apartment complex that people consider more unique from the rest? 


My first response to every picture but the last was, "That's the one in my neighborhood!"

DavidFoureyes topcommenter

@CinBlueland Yeah! Fuck you Le Corbusier! What did you ever d.....crap.

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