Lowertown Yards: Public Space from Renewed Infrastructure in Saint Paul

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Lowertown Yards: Public Space from Renewed Infrastructure in Saint Paul

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Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs


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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

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O'Dell, Colleen. (2011). Lowertown Yards: Public Space from Renewed Infrastructure in Saint Paul. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/118635.

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