Th e Lowertown area near downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota is both
historically and culturally rich - the birthplace of the Dakota people and the
city of Saint Paul, a key Mississippi River trading location, and the historic
head of continental navigation for the Northwest. For the last 150 years
however, we have given this socially and environmentally vital riparian area
over to machines and infrastructure: to railroads, automobiles, sewer systems
and surface parking. Like many prior industrial areas throughout the U.S., we
have erased the original history and ecological functionality of the land, fi rst
by replacing it with hardscape engineered infrastructure lacking in cultural
identity, and second by allowing that infrastructure to decay, obsolesce, and
contaminate surrounding soil and water.
Th is dual landscape architecture and urban planning project repurposes
and rejuvinates a key area of Lowertown by connecting people and places,
cleansing contaminated soil and water, and creating lively urban spaces for art
and food. Specifi c design moves include daylighting and reusing stormwater
to create public space, sustain urban agriculture, and create new watercleansing
wetlands. Additional approaches include the phytoremediation
of rail yard contamination; reduction of impervious surfaces; establishment
of creative pedestrian, bicycle, and light rail connections; and an active
celebration of the creative local arts and food culture. Th e resulting design
transforms this concrete and asphalt brownfi eld area into a green and
thriving community that has reestablished its historic, cultural, and living
bond with the Mississippi River.
In Partial Fulfillment of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Degree Requirements
Lowertown Yards: Public Space from Renewed Infrastructure in Saint Paul.
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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