ColorTherapy: Color Comes to the City of Lakes

ColorTherapy: Color Comes to the City of Lakes

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Maxwell Ryan
Oct 30, 2007

Minneapolis has grown in leaps and bounds since I left in 1990. And in the last few years, buildings designed by world-class architects have been springing up like mushrooms in the night. The Guthrie Theater has a new building designed by Jean Nouvel...

It's a cobalt steel structure with a cantilevered lounge situated amongst the old grain towers along the Mississippi.

The architect's intent was to tint the exterior the color of twilight—that magical hour when the audience gathers and actors begin their makeup. I had another association as well: the deep blue color of the building and its interiors reminds me of the color of the sky reflected in the many wooded lakes that exist throughout Minnesota.

The building's arm is a lounge that sticks out four stories over the roadway and towards the river. It has small amber windows that very specifically frame small vistas along St. Anthony's Falls. The experience is such that as walk along this corridor and out onto the outdoor deck, you are deliberately led to witness this architectural triumph and the great outdoors, but also is free to leisurely enjoy the experience. I have yet to witness a production at the Guthrie, but its new home brings a forward-thinking theater vividly into the 21st century.

I don't have much to say color-wise about the following buildings, so let me switch hats and continue as a tour guide. Next stop on your itinerary would be the Walker Art Center. It houses one of the best contemporary art collections in the country, and has recently expanded its exhibition space with an extension by Herzog & de Meuron. This building too juts out over the sidewalk with its craggy profile. It's rhythmic geometry updates the former minimalist cube without interfering with the art.

Cesar Pelli designed the Minneapolis Public Library. It has a large canopy entrance and the pattern in the glass windows mimic birch trees and rapid-running water.

Finally, my alma mater has a new art museum designed by Frank Gehry. The Weisman Art Museum is a teaching museum for the U of M and houses a 20th century art collection. Its tangle of steel ribbons reflects the colors of the sky, and are particularly dazzling at sunset. The color of architecture in this instance is not a fixed thing, but an ever-changing Kaleidoscope.

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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