We are pleased to offer a collection of essays and opinions about urban design and the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul region.


Dive into the River Balcony Prototyping Festival
St. Paul is geographically blessed. We have a national park – the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area – running through the heart of our city offering stunning natural beauty, endless recreational opportunities, and amazing views from the river bluffs. Downtown St. Paul is on one of those bluffs, and for years people have imagined the addition of a “River Balcony,” a beautiful public space where we can gather as a community and enjoy the views of the river valley as we listen to a concert or enjoy a meal. Read more.

How thoughtful design can reduce racial inequity
At first glance, the Minneapolis-St. Paul region looks well prepared for continued economic and cultural vitality. That’s been our story since World War II — a steady climb in the direction of greater prosperity, quality-of-life and international prominence. But a significant roadblock stands in our path toward this bright future: the stark facts of racial inequity. We rank embarrassingly low in educational performance, income and job opportunities for people of color. If present trends prevail, the percentage of disadvantaged people living here will rise drastically by 2040, when an estimated 40 percent of all metro residents will be nonwhite. This shatters our proud self-image as a generous, progressive place dedicated to giving every kid the chance to get ahead.

Seeking better health through a rethinking of our urban landscape
America is faced with a potentially devastating health crisis evidenced by growing rates of heart disease, diabetes, childhood asthma and obesity, and the effects of social isolation. Many of these ills have been brought on by the unintended consequence of public policy and investment heavily biased toward the automobile, coupled with outdated zoning and building codes. Fortunately, city leaders in Minnesota and across the nation are rethinking the future of the urban landscape, with an eye toward creating healthier environments. In health care, that means looking outside the walls of hospitals and clinics to collaborate with community leaders on opportunities to improve health where we live, learn, work, worship and play.

14 steps to greatness: Penalosa’s to-do list for MSP
Gil Penalosa—former Parks Commissioner in Bogota, Colombia, and now president of the 8-80 Cities think tank—has traveled to more than 150 communities around the world over the past eight years scouting the best ideas for making great places. He toured the Twin Cities in May 2014 speaking at 17 events from the East Side to Wayzata as part of the Third Annual Placemaking Residency—a celebration of urban possibilities convened by the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation in partnership with more than two-dozen local organizations. At the end of the week, Penalosa presented his checklist for how St. Paul and Minneapolis can join the ranks of Paris, Vancouver, and Melbourne, Australia as one of the world’s top cities at the Great River Gathering in Union Depot.

In St. Paul, 20 years of transformation
As part of the 20th Annual Great River Gathering, we will celebrate 20 years of transformation — not only in the physical look of our community but in the way we think about St. Paul’s future.

Charles Landry and ‘Interculturalism’ in the Twin Cities
In an intercultural city, residents and organizations creatively harness their diversity and use it as a tool to build a more prosperous future for all. During his week-long residency in the Twin Cities, Charles Landry, an internationally known expert on interculturalism and development of more creative cities, will be helping St. Paul and other communities develop the tools needed to make the transformation to an intercultural city. Published in the Pioneer Press on May 5, 2012, by Lisa Tabor, Patrick Seeb, Tom Borrup and Carol Swenson.

Minneapolis demand on Target Center undercuts the Xcel Energy Center
An article by Patrick Seeb, Executive Director of the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation, regarding the necessity of a sustainable solution for both the Target Center and the Xcel Energy Center. Published in the Pioneer Press on February 2, 2012.

River of Dreams
An essay by Tou Ger Xiong, acclaimed story-teller, comedian and motivational speaker about the role of the Mississippi and Mekong Rivers in the lives of his family and Hmong immigrants.  (c) 2009 Tou Ger Xiong

Lessons Learned: Hindsight 20/20 in Community Development
How the lessons of the past can help Saint Paul make the most of important developments like the Central Corridor Light Rail, by Patrick Seeb, Executive Director, Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation.

The Importance of Place
What makes places – and Saint Paul – special, by Gregory Page, the Riverfront Corporation’s special projects director and “resident historian.”

A World in Motion
A review of how three distinct downtown development efforts influence and impact each other, by Tim Griffin, director of the Riverfront Corporation’s Saint Paul on the Mississippi Design Center.