It’s a first for Minnesota’s third-largest city. A vibrant, world-class public space that supports health, celebrates life, engages businesses and creates a sense of community. A space that is, above all, authentically Rochester.
Heart of the City, the gateway sub-district in the Destination Medical Center (DMC) plan, encompasses 12 city blocks of hotels, restaurants, businesses and Mayo Clinic buildings. Despite its status as the central business district, Heart of the City has become tired and underutilized in recent years. So local officials and DMC leaders are thinking bigger and bolder – and RSP is helping bring their vision to life.
As architect-of-record of this vital public space project, RSP is providing thought leadership, project management and community engagement facilitation. Our team includes Coen + Partners (landscape architecture); 9.Square (urban design and planning); HR&A Advisors (open space development, management and strategy services); and Kimley-Horn (civil engineering, transportation).
Together, we’ve dreamed and designed with the community and stakeholders to define the future of Heart of the City. Our human-centric design process gathered outside ideas and feedback through pop-up interviews, public meetings and interactive design charrettes. This process led us to develop four core competencies for success: health and well-being, user experience, integrated economic strategy and informed urban design.
The final design concepts, programming and business plan form a balanced blend of these competencies. Throughout the space, iconic public art, flexible open spaces, native landscaping and active, pedestrian-friendly features will welcome residents and visitors alike. Accessibility and seating have been thoughtfully considered to provide ease of access for all, while offering peace and respite for Mayo Clinic patients. And seasonal programming throughout – such as summer fountains and holiday markets – will keep the sub-district alive year-round, even during cold Minnesota winters.
In response to the wide variety of user groups, the design team divided the sub-district into focus areas that offer unique yet complementary features. The Zumbro Gardens at 2nd Avenue will be a lush green retreat, providing shade and supporting wellness. The Market Plaza will accommodate activities of all kinds, from yoga and food trucks to concerts and weddings. The plaza will also host recurring events, such as weekly farmer’s markets, movie nights and pop-up cafes and retail. The Alley will activate a previously unused space with art, murals and colorful lighting.
Currently in the funding phase, the project is slated for completion in 2021.