Minneapolis Riverfront

Minneapolis, Minnesota

From 1880 to 1930, Minneapolis was the world's leader in flour production with its many mills powered by Saint Anthony Falls. After the decline of the mills--the last one on the riverfront ceased operation in 1965--the buildings were largely abandoned. In 1980, the city hired MacDonald & Mack--along with Miller Dunwiddie and Jeffrey Hess--to undertake an intensive historic and architectural study of the riverfront on both sides of the falls. Our team's work culminated in the book Saint Anthony Falls Rediscovered, in addition to guidelines for the new historic district.


One of the area's highlights is Mill Ruins Park, which opened in 2001 and features the remains of many historic mills, as well as the railroad that led to them. Before the park could be opened to the public, however, its deteriorating masonry walls and railroad trestles needed to be stabilized and preserved, a project led by MacDonald & Mack. At the outset of the project, we developed a prioritized list to guide the work. In both the emergency first phase and the more extensive second phase, our design solutions where guided by the goals of disturbing the site as little as possible, being as discreet as possible, and using materials sympathetic to those already on site.


Most recently, MacDonald & Mack has been working on the new Water Works Park (near Mill Ruins), including the selective demolition of the Fuji-Ya building, which was constructed atop historic mill ruins.



City of Minneapolis



District Guidelines: Miller Dunwiddie, Jeffrey Hess


Water Works: Damon Farber Associates, 106 Group, HGA



National Register nomination

Information from the Minneapolis HPC

Water Works website

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