The City of Bloomington, Minnesota hired Stantec to conduct a community collaboration project in its effort to transform Lyndale Avenue into a thriving, walkable, mixed-use corridor that serves as an amenity to attract new, and retain existing, residents and businesses: the Lyndale Avenue Suburban Retrofit.
I was subcontracted by Stantec to bring creative thinking and design to this work in two phases, the initial visioning and research phase and the charrette. For the visioning phase, I designed a mobile, pop-up tool to be used by City and Stantec personnel to gather resident input on what aspects of the corridor they wanted to preserve or accentuate – the “hidden gems” of Lyndale Ave.
For the charrette, I transformed a 4000 sq.ft. former liquor store into a garden-like environment, using artificial turf, raised bed “gardens” and a greenhouse. The exterior window featured a colorful “window splash”, inviting residents to “Help Lyndale Ave ‘Grow””. Inside, I designed the space around a central relaxation/play area, ringed with work and activity spaces, starting with an area summarizing the present conditions of the street and previous resident feedback.
For the prioritizing activity, “Help Lyndale Avenue Grow”, we wanted the activity to build on the existing conditions information and previous feedback that would be presented at the beginning of the space. In those previous engagement activities, residents had identified existing assets along the corridor as well as desires for the future. The existing conditions research identified market trends as well as the existing characteristics of the project area.
With this information in mind, participants were instructed to choose one priority that would affect the corridor as a whole, write it on a shape (flowers, leaves, butterflies, or worms), tape it to a stick and add it to the raised-bed garden. We offered suggestions including beautify streetscape, increase transit, improve pedestrian and bike access, expand public spaces, build more housing, but kept the activity an open-answer format where participants could formulate their own response.