River Reflex Rethinking Mankatoâ€™s Relationship with the Majestic and Manic Minnesota River
a project by
Michael Schiebe Masterâ€™s of Landscape Architecture University of Minnesota Graduate Capstone Project College of Design - 2014
A special thank you goes out to the following individuals who have helped, guided, and supported me through such a rewarding process.
Carissa Schively Slotterback
Matthew Kessler David Kowen Emily Osthus Michael Richardson Ryan Ruttger
Lyverse, Mary. Kasota Prairie, charcoal, graphite, and watercolor on panel, 2007.
Intersection of Change
City of Mankato
The Minnesota River
Old Town Renewal
River Access + Connections
Design Strategy and Phasing
Elm Street Gateway
Introduction Project Statement Intersection of Change City of Mankato The Minnesota River
R|R C IT Y
R IV E R
PROJECT STATEMENT The City of Mankatoâ€™s flood protection system has dramatically reduced physical and visual connections to the Minnesota River. Over the past century, river cities have undertaken drastic transitions in form and function due to the evolution of industry and technology, growth of urban sprawl, and construction of flood management systems. What was once a harmonious - albeit, risky - relationship between river and city has now evolved into a controlled and mitigating stance towards keeping the natural force - the water - at bay. The constriction and control of the natural river system has brought about hydrologic and ecologic concerns felt hundreds of miles downstream. River and urban systems once inextricably connected have become isolated and independent, leading to worries that river-based communities are forging ahead without their founding asset the river. I am proposing an alternative approach in which the river and urban systems can coexist in a resilient and mutually-beneficial fashion.
This project aims to reconnect Mankato with the Minnesota River, rejuvenate habitat and riverine conditions, and bring about the historic districtâ€™s economic revitalization. With more resilient infrastructure design, the city can protect itself from flooding events without compromising beneficial public riverfront space and access.
The rockâ€™s way of staying... is different from the way of living things. The rock, we may say, resists change;
it stays put, unchanging.
The living thing transcends change either by correcting change or changing itself to meet change or by
incorporating change into its own being. -Gregory Bateson
We can look at change from that of the natural system, such as a river with such tremendous variability and seasonal transformation, in a state of constant flux.
Or we can examine change from that of the city, with decades of historic legacy built from shifting industrial, transportation, and settlement patterns. Within both the natural and the urban, change has always been embedded into the places we inhabit and the way we live.
All images courtesy of AYTCH, Urban & Regional Studies Institute at MSU Mankato
The intersection of the river and the city is the epitome of constant change, a reflection of our long-standing attitude that the city, as it grows and develops, will remain the rock. The river, on the other hand, tends to be controlled as to benefit the human environment. The balance between these two systems is crucial, yet it seems that we have yet to
fully acknowledge the riverâ€™s current role in urban resilience.
Eastman, Seth. Minnesota River Valley, etching, c. 1845.
Mississippi River Twin Cities
CITY OF MANKATO Mankato, Minnesota is a great example of this relationship, in which cities have developed and grown around a river, even as needs and societal pressures have shifted. Mankato is situated on the Minnesota River in the south-central portion of the state. Mankato is located about seventy miles southwest of the Twin Cities. Mankato has a population of 39,309, making it the fourth largest city outside the Minneapolis - St. Paul metropolitan area. Together with the city of North Mankato, which is situated on the northwest side of the river, the population of the two cities equates to 52,678 as of 2012.
00Image courtesy of AYTCH, Urban & Regional Studies Institute at MSU Mankato
HISTORICAL CONDITIONS Mankato, one of the stateâ€™s oldest cities, was founded in 1852 just three years after the Minnesota Territory was formed. As the fur trade declined during this time, Minnesotans rushed to the area to lay claim on the opening of the Dakota lands to settlement due to the result of 1851 cession treaties by four Dakota bands. This land rush concentrated on Mankato, among other regional nodes, because of its site characteristics that could be well-used as a steamboat port. Steam boating from St. Paul was the most technologically-advanced means of transportation until 1868, in which the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad reached Mankato for the first time.
All images courtesy of AYTCH, Urban & Regional Studies Institute at MSU Mankato
INDUSTRIAL LEGACY Soon after the initial land rush brought Minnesotans to Mankato, business and industry followed. By the advent of the Civil War in 1861, the cityâ€™s principal export was wheat. Although agricultural practices would begin to shift towards a more diversified system, wheat - along with dairying, livestock production, corn, and oats - would become mainstays in the region. In 1868, the railroad reached Mankato and changed the cityâ€™s transportation network and status as a regional node forever. During the first phase of the Industrial Revolution from 1868 to 1900, the city grew rapidly due to a massive influx of people to the area, with population increasing from about 3,000 to 11,000. By the beginning of the 20th century, the principal businesses in Mankato were flour milling, brewing, railroading, and stone quarrying. Although the scope and vitality has changed, these principal industries are still present in Mankato today.
All images courtesy of AYTCH, Urban & Regional Studies Institute at MSU Mankato.
Blue Earth River
Le Sueur River
The core of Mankato is based around two main districts â€“ Downtown and Old Town. Adjacent land uses include the Washington Park residential neighborhood, industrial sector, and a pair of large parks which bookend the core of the center city. The red shape outlines the design site I have been examining for this project.
Sibley Park Union Pacific
Industrial Sector Riverfront Park
Old Town Washington Park Neighborhood
Commercial Central Business District Heavy Industrial Office Residential High Density Residential Medium Density Residential W
Low Density Residential Park + Open Space Public + Semi-Public Open Space
ve rf ro nt D
LAND USE There exists a compaction of land uses within Old Town, especially surrounding the Heavy Industrial corridor along the riverfront. This presents a challenge when designing more efficient integration and connection between uses. The site I will be focusing on is a combination of Park and Open Space, Heavy Industrial, Central Business District, Office Residential, and Commercial.
Mississippi River Twin Cities
THE MINNESOTA RIVER Stretching for 335 miles from the Minnesota/North Dakota border before emptying into the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling near St. Paul, the Minnesota River is the quintessential state river. The Minnesota River watershed covers nearly 17,000 square miles over four states, with over 14,000 square miles located within the Minnesota state boundary. The entirety of the Minnesota River Basin is located within the Mississippi River Basin, eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Due to its location between the Red River to the north and the Mississippi River to the east, the Minnesota River Basin is of vital importance to the hydrologic and ecologic health of both its own waters as well as surrounding watersheds.
at 335 miles long, the Minnesota River is
LARGEST TRIBUTARY to the Mississippi River
the Minnesota River Basin drains of Minnesota’s water
However, 92% of the watershed’s land is devoted to AGRICULTURE
RUNOFF POLLUTION SEDIMENTATION
Clarity (in cm)
100 80 60
Lake Superior RB St. Croix RB Upper Mississippi RB Lower Mississippi RB Minnesota River Basin
40 20 0 1999
Water Clarity Trends (2009)
1881 1951 1965
Mankato Free Press.
A HISTORY OF FLOODING The cities of Mankato and North Mankato have experienced catastrophic flooding throughout the past century and a half. The Minnesota River would almost annually overflow its banks within city limits, creating a harsh reality for the two communities to deal without proper means of sustaining a riverfront district in lieu of flooding. Federal funding for a flood protection program was sought after the 1951 flood, but political delays left the two communities vulnerable to flooding while funds were gathered. In 1965, another major flooding event prompted immediate federal assistance. Shortly thereafter, the Army Corps of Engineers began the nearly thirty-year construction project of levees and flood walls that exist today. It was not until the project completion in 1989 that the threat of flooding had been fully contained.
cubic feet per second (cfs)
Minnesota River at Mankato Annual Peak Streamflow 1881-2013 (Source: USGS)
Mankato Free Press.
A FUTURE OF FLOODING With a system of flood walls and levees in place, the city of Mankato has been protected from high flood waters since 1989. However, the occurrence and severity of these flood events has increased in recent years - with many attributing the rise to upstream land practices and the ominous signs of climate change. During the spring of 2010 and 2011, the Minnesota River crested to heights of 25â€™ and 28â€™, respectively, in downtown Mankato. Although the high water level was still ten feet below the top of the flood wall, the increasing occurrence of flood events is worrisome. Precipitation in the form of heavy rainfall is expected to increase more than 66% in the coming decades, as stated by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Along with more rapid thaw of snowmelt upstream, the amount of water surging downstream is increasing every year. Although the Mankato flood wall can withstand a 500-year flood event, the very system that is protecting the city is also pushing the river away and funneling its forces further downstream. This massive infrastructure project has successfully protected the city from flooding events for nearly three decades. However, the flood wall is actually causing more harm than good.
Site Issues Flood Protection Old Town Renewal Habitat Restoration River Access + Connections
Kasota Stone Site
Old Town Washington Park Neighborhood
FLOOD PROTECTION OLD TOWN RENEWAL HABITAT RESTORATION RIVER ACCESS + CONNECTIONS
FLOOD PROTECTION Mankato’s reliance on static flood protection infrastructure has put strain on the city’s adaptation to more resilient and reflexive flood control technologies. The current flood wall that runs the length of downtown protects the city from 500-year flood events, but is purely one-dimensional in that it responds to no other critical systems – the natural and social ones included.
500 Year Flood
100 Year Flood
Flood Stage (NWS)
designing for the “typical” flood
There is need for flood protection, however. The Minnesota River fluctuates wildly on an annual basis, with the normal yearly bounce around 12 feet. This hydrograph displays annual river levels in downtown Mankato over the past decade. As you can see, the river surges to high levels in the spring, and drops to low levels in the fall and winter. The highest flood on record was recorded in 1993, which is currently the 100-year flood mark.
500 Yr Flood 100 Yr Flood (1993) Seasonal High River Seasonal Low River Historic Structure
What happens if the flood wall were removed? If no flood protection measures were in place in downtown Mankato, high flood waters would surely wreck havoc. The analysis map on the opposite page explores this scenario, showing a 500 year flood event reaching far into Old Town. Through site-specific analysis, it is clear that flood protection is indeed needed in Mankato. However, the form and function of protection needs to be developed further to provide a wider range of benefits.
Flood Wall + Levee System
Stretching through much of the city, the levee and flood wall system has had a lasting impression in more ways than one. Despite protecting the city from the 500 year flood event, the wall has forever altered the relationship between Mankato and the Minnesota River.
OLD TOWN RENEWAL Old Town - Mankatoâ€™s historic district - is composed of an aging industrial sector and smaller-scale retail and residential land uses. Mankato Iron and Metal, seen here in this image, is a scrap metal recycling company, which â€“ like other businesses in the district â€“ no longer rely on the river for transportation or power.
MANUFACTURING Industries and manufacturing businesses within the project site include: 1 Kasota Stone Roughly 27.5 acres in size, it is located just to the east of Riverfront Park across the rail line. The company recently went out of business this past year and the site is in limbo in terms of future ownership and development. The site has previously acted as a quarry, manufacturing, and storage area for limestone operations. 2 Dotson Iron Castings Established in 1871, Dotson primarily constructs iron cores and molds in a variety of finishings. They recently upgraded their facility to expand operations and occupy about 5 acres of land adjacent to the rail line and Riverfront Park. 3 Mankato Iron and Metal Established in 1972, Mankato Iron and Metal is a locally-owned and operated business dealing with scrap metal and recycling. It occupies 9.5 acres between the floodwall and rail line, in between Old Town and the Minnesota River. 4 Cargill Most notable for its iconic flour mill, Cargill sits on the rail line next to the river at the southern terminus of Old Town. It is a joint venture with Horizon Milling and is one of the key users of the rail within the site boundaries. The flour mill itself dates back to the late nineteenth century and is an iconic historic structure that is highly visible when visiting Mankato.
$0-$200K $200K - $500K $500K - $1,000K $1,000K - $5,000K $5,000K Vacant + Transition Surface Parking
Riverfront Drive, on which many of the cityâ€™s historic buildings are located, has seen its share of better days. With the city focusing new design within downtown, Old Town has been tasked to showcase its historic legacy without added investment. The analysis map on the opposite page details the opportunity to rejuvenate the district through the acquisition and/or redevelopment of vacant and inexpensive parcels. The entire Old Town district is in need of a boost - economically, culturally, and socially.
HABITAT RESTORATION Because of the flood wall and rip rap installed along the banks of the Minnesota River, the loss of native floodplain forests and riparian vegetation has limited the amount of viable habitat for avian and aquatic species over the past fifty years.
VIABLE HABITAT RIVER
Existing Site Shoreline Condition
POOR HABITAT MANUFACTURING LAND USE
1889 MN River 1938 MN River 1951 MN River 1938 Floodplain Forest 2014 Floodplain Forest
Historically, the Minnesota River flowed naturally through Mankato without any large-scale infrastructure protection. The analysis map on the opposite page displays the historic riverbed in 1889, 1938, and 1951 as well as a more extensive floodplain forest regime that once occupied the riverbanks. The current river alignment is called out by the dark blue lines.
RIVER ACCESS + CONNECTIONS The current flood protection system has also dramatically reduced pedestrian access between Mankato and the Minnesota River. Although a trail brings users along the riverâ€™s edge, manufacturing land use, the rail, and the flood wall have strongly deterred any riverfront program and access.
Flood Wall + Levee System Industrial Land Use Physical Access Visible Access
FLOOD WALL + LEVEE SYSTEM RAIL + INDUSTRY VISUAL ACCESS PHYSICAL ACCESS
RAIL SYSTEM Rail infrastructure sets a difficult barrier for accessing the Minnesota River. With the advent of increased rail traffic, it is prudent for any river connection strategies to mitigate the effects of the rail system barrier by providing access above and around the rail tracks. The rail system runs through downtown Mankato along the river and ushers about 10-20 trains per day. The Union Pacific owns the line, although the DM&E railroad also uses the tracks daily. The use of the rail system is continuing to grow and is expected to increase in the coming decades. Shipping of agricultural goods and coal is escalating in addition to the numerous industries that have traditionally used the rail for service (processing, mining, manufacturing). The prospect of commuter rail reaching Mankato is also a possibility. The Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan states a Minnesota Valley Line running southwest from the Twin Cities is a Phase I corridor opportunity.
RIVERFRONT PARK In addition to a lack of access to the river, the missing connection link between Riverfront Park and Downtown is one key issue at stake. Riverfront Park, designed by Damon Farber Associates and Paulsen Architects, is a relatively new city park that sits just north of the proposed site along the Minnesota River. Completed in 2007, the 14-acre Riverfront Park provides some access to the river as well as a gathering space for large events. The city prides the park on being able to generate more access and connections to the river, although there are deficiencies regarding its site location, accessibility, and year-round programming.
DOWNTOWN MANKATO The downtown district, with plentiful amenities in which the city is heavily investing, is lacking adequate river access and a strong connection to Riverfront Park. With all these issues in mind, it becomes apparent that the intersection of river and city is much more complicated than one might think. Although infrastructure has reduced the risk of flooding in the city, Mankatoâ€™s flood wall has without a doubt been a literal and figurative barrier between residents and the Minnesota River. So what can we do? How can design begin to initiate access and connections to the Minnesota River, restore shoreline habitat, and revitalize the Old Town district while still protecting the city from peak flooding events?
Design Proposal Site Design Design Strategy and Phasing Elm Street Gateway Kasota Riverwalk Hubbard Plaza
SITE DESIGN River Reflex aims to reconnect the city and river through an abundance of connections and design strategies. What if the flood wall were replaced by a redesigned shoreline condition? What if we were able to bring residents down to the riverfront and give multiple ways for people to access the space and explore a renewed riverfront? This view looks toward Cargill Mill and downtown Mankato and re-imagines the riverfront of the city as a place of vibrant and active use, while allowing the river ample opportunity to expand and grow within a natural riparian system.
OLD TOWN RENEWAL
Mankato’s reliance on static and outdated flood protection infrastructure has put strain on the city’s adaptation to more resilient and reflexive flood control technologies.
The economic development, social awareness, and commercial importance of Mankato’s historic Old Town district has remained stagnant over the past two decades.
By reforming the existing flood wall and levee system, the bounds of flood protection is pushed further into the urban context, allowing a more natural and interactive floodplain environment. The Minnesota River Trail, at an elevation of 785 feet, provides a continual line of defense from a 500 year flood event.
An interactive and programmed riverfront, highlighted by the newly-relocated Blue Earth County Historical Society and Hubbard Plaza, will aid in attracting residents and visitors to Old Town. Mankato should take advantage of this new riverfront development to showcase the Hubbard Mill, Cargill grain elevators, and railroad to communicate its industrial legacy and growth as a city over time.
RIVER ACCESS + CONNECTIONS
The banks of the Minnesota River in downtown Mankato are devoid of any viable riparian habitat.
The current flood protection system has dramatically reduced pedestrian access between Mankato and the Minnesota River.
Loss of floodplain forests and riparian vegetation has limited the number of native aquatic and avian species that would normally occupy the riverbank. River Reflex calls for a restoration of the riverâ€™s edge, construction of wing dams to provide a more natural riverbed and aquatic habitat, and an influx of native vegetation for avian species - all within a larger scheme to reconnect the missing habitat corridor from Riverfront Park to Sibley Park.
When physical and visual access is taken away, the city loses a piece of its heritage and pedestrian appeal. The Elm Street Gateway highlights an essential access procession to the river, with ample room for recreation and passive activity. The Kasota Riverwalk connects Riverfront Park with downtown Mankato through an enhanced and exciting trail system that allows residents and visitors a unique and seasonally-varied experience on the banks of the Minnesota River.
ACTIVE + PASSIVE
Active Program Passive Program
Flood Wall Displacement Flood Wall Alteration Cut Fill
500 Year Flood Event : 784’ 100 Year Flood Event : 778’ Seasonal High River Level : 762’ Seasonal Low River Level : 750’
Primary Event Space Secondary Event Space
The site sits between Riverfront Park to the north, and downtown Mankato to the south. The site boundary to the east is located on Riverfront Drive in Old Town. This design is based on providing: • Multiple trail systems to connect people to the river as well as between Riverfront Park and downtown. • Access points to the river itself, highlighted by the Elm Street Gateway. • Old Town renewal by using infill development and program located on site, such as defined public plaza spaces and programmed buildings. The Blue Earth County Historical Society would be relocated to a new building within Old Town, giving residents and visitors an up-close and personal opportunity to explore Mankato’s rich historical legacy within walking distance of its most notable landmarks. • Restoring the natural floodplain forests and habitat to the riverfront.
River Access Ramp
Southern Terrace Forest
Pedestrian Connection x791’
BECHS + Parking
Connection from VMB to MN River Trail
Future Development (2015) UL
Blue Earth County Library N
(60 permanent + 42 overflow)
Parking 102 spaces
Rental + Cafe
DESIGN STRATEGY A large portion of the design is based around removing and reforming the existing flood wall. By pushing the flood barrier back to the Minnesota River Trail, space is opened up for natural vegetation and shoreline conditions. The form of the street grid is extended from Old Town to the river, either through direct access or by carrying the geometries to various observation decks on the Riverwalk. The river edge is transformed to create a more natural and viable habitat for aquatic species, as well as provide a unique and adventurous riverfront experience for site users.
Reforming the Wall
Extending the Grid
Transforming the Edge
Constructing the Form
Creating the Path
Restoring the Forest
PHASING With regards to phasing of this project, it can be expected that it will take at least five years for construction of the design to begin. During the formative years, a few businesses will shift to the Kasota Stone site, just north of this design area. The Blue Earth County Historical Society will relocate to Old Town and help in creating a more viable pedestrian district. Once the space is cleared, a reformed Minnesota River Trail will form the spine of the site. Excavation of material can then begin to occur, with a majority of the fill being transferred into a new landform on the northern end of the site. Once excavation is complete, the rest of the project can be constructed and developed to give way to a redefined and re-imagined public riverfront space for the City of Mankato.
Old Town Revitalization Year 0-2
Industry Reshift Year 0-5
Constructing the Spine Year 5-6
Program Initiation Year 6
Excavation Year 6-7
Site Development Year 7-10
ELM STREET GATEWAY R|R
P2 3a 2b P1
ELM STREET GATEWAY The Elm Street Gateway forms the primary circulation and design axis of the site. Developed as a continuation of Elm Street in Old Town, the Gateway ramp acts as the most direct and accessible means of reaching the banks of the Minnesota River. In todayâ€™s current context, the flood wall and levee system restricts any riverfront access or connections, save for a narrow, steep ramp near Riverfront Park. The Elm Street Gateway, however, vastly increases visual and physical access to the Minnesota River. In conjunction with the Gateway ramp, a newly built watercraft rental building with adjoining cafe space will bring recreation opportunities even closer to the riverfront. In addition to becoming a needed connector piece between Riverfront Park and downtown, the Elm Street Gateway encourages residents to explore and experience the Minnesota River waterfront.
Public Lawn + River Observation
River Access Ramp
750 x761’ BW x764’ TW
752 754 756 758 760 762
Minnesota River Trail 794 792 790 x787’ TW
Rental + Cafe ~4,800 s.f.
780 782 772
The diagrams on the opposite page show the Normal, 100 year, and 500 year flood events at this location. As you can see, it will be possible for Elm Street Gateway to be flooded in a 500 year flood event if it ever occurs. This section elevation below also shows inundation potential, again showing the gradual balance between the river and the urban edge. As residents and visitors frequent the space in spring, peak river flooding will most likely encroach on the entry plaza itself. The fall months - with normal low water levels - will allow users to descend to the low reaches of the riverbank.
x787’ x785’ TW x780’
18” 18” 18”
Poured Concrete Steps Existing Concrete Flood Wall
Concrete Slab Paving 2” Thick 2’-0”
Compacted Base 6” Thick Compacted Soil Base
Existing Concrete Flood Wall Concrete Pavers 2.5” Thick 1
Sand Leveling Course 0.5 - 1.5” Thick Filter Fabric Compacted Base 6” Thick Compacted Soil Base
x790’ TW x779’
500 Year Flood 784’ 100 Year Flood 778’
Seasonal High 762’
Seasonal Low 750’
Passive Parking + Event Space
Southern Terrace Forest
The primary access ramp to the Minnesota River via the Elm Street Gateway allows residents and visitors an experience unlike any in the city. A gradual procession to the riverfront, a beginning gateway illustrated in the section elevation above, uses a tandem ramp and stairway combination that incorporates the existing and altered concrete flood wall. The entire ramp portion shown below, at thirty feet wide, is well equipped to handle large groups of kayakers, canoers, and paddle-boarders. One key feature of the Elm Street Gateway access ramp is the ability to be inundated with water on a seasonal basis. This ability reflects the ideals of the design initiative to instill a greater sense of “river reflex” to the site. As residents and visitors frequent the space in spring, peak river flooding will most likely encroach on the entry plaza itself. The late fall months - with normal low water levels - will allow users to descend to the low reaches of the riverbank. This experiential variability gives Mankato a truly unique and transformative riverfront.
In conjunction with the Gateway ramp, a newly built watercraft rental building with adjoining cafe space will bring recreation opportunities even closer to the riverfront. Bent River Outfitters, a watercraft rental business currently located in Old Town, could be relocated to this space so that users would be able to rent out kayaks, test out various equipment, and have plentiful storage right at the river’s edge. The café space within this same building would provide a needed pit stop for bikers, kayakers, and canoers, as well as give residents a great spot to grab a quick lunch or warm coffee during the work week. Subtle grade changes and a bosque of trees direct views toward the Cargill Mill and far hillside, again emphasizing Mankato’s unique physical context. In addition to becoming a needed connector piece between Riverfront Park and downtown, the Elm Street Gateway gives Mankato a truly unique and transformative riverfront space that encourages residents to explore and experience the Minnesota River waterfront. RENTAL + CAFE KASOTA RIVERWALK MN RIVER TRAIL
KASOTA RIVERWALK R|R
1a 1b P4 P3
KASOTA RIVERWALK The Kasota Riverwalk, which stretches the length of the design site, consists of a series of trail systems aimed to reconnect residents and visitors with the Minnesota River through a variety of experiences that change on a monthly and yearly basis. The existing Minnesota River Trail now forms the backbone of the site, almost entirely situated at an elevation above the 500 year flood mark. A pedestrian boardwalk runs adjacent to the Minnesota River Trail and will function as the more passive and leisurely mode of traversing the site. Closer to the river sits a set of Flood Trails, depicted in the perspective view above. Constructed of reclaimed concrete from the previous flood wall, these Flood Trails encourage a more adventurous and intriguing experience, all the while at natureâ€™s whim to be inundated during peak flood events in the wet spring months.
Floodplain Silver Maple Acer saccharinum Cottonwood Populus deltoides American Elm ‘New Harmony’ Ulmus americana Hackberry Celtis occidentalis Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor
••••• •••• •• •• •••
Ontario aster Symphyotrichum ontarionis Mad dog skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora Touch-me-not Impatiens spp. Tall coneflower Rudbeckia laciniata Kidney-leaved buttercup Ranunculus abortivus
• • • •• •
Honewort Cryptotaenia canadensis Wild cucumber Echinocystis lobata Tall bellflower Campanula americana Side-flowering aster Aster lateriflorus Common mint Mentha arvensis
• • • • •
Virginia wild rye Elymus virginicus White grass Leersia virginica Hop umbrella sedge Carex lupulina Virginia creeper Parthenocissus spp. Canada moonseed Menispermum canadense
•• ••• •• • •
Floodplain forests - highlighted by a collection of cottonwoods, silver maples, and swamp white oaks - will cover the lower elevations of the design site. The southern terrace forest regime with elm, basswood, and hackberry, will take hold in the higher elevations.
x761’ BW x765’ TW
500 Year Flood 784’ 100 Year Flood 778’
x762’ TW Seasonal High 762’
Seasonal Low 750’
Southern Terrace Forest
Red Elm Ulmus rubra Basswood Tilia americana American Elm ‘New Harmony’ Ulmus americana Hackberry Celtis occidentalis Black Maple Acer nigrum
••• ••• ••• ••• ••
Virginia waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum Cleavers Galium aparine Aniseroot Osmorhiza longistylis Blue phlox Phlox divaricata Stemless blue violets Viola sororia
••• ••• •• • ••
Hispid buttercup Ranunculus hispidus Cow parsnip Heracleum lanatum Virginia bluebells Mertensia virginica Missouri gooseberry Ribes missouriense Chokecherry Prunus virginiana
•• •• ••• • •••
Virginia wild rye Elymus virginicus Ambiguous sedge Carex amphibola Bland sedge Carex blanda Nodding fescue Festuca subverticillata White grass Leersia virginica
• • • • •
These two native vegetation regimes are persistent throughout the entire site and aid increasing viable habitat for avian species as well as assist in reconnecting a larger corridor within the Minnesota River system.
Minnesota River Trail x779’
Southern Terrace Forest 20’
As it currently exists, an extreme lack of trees, floodplain vegetation, and natural shoreline has been detrimental to various avian and aquatic species such as the swallow, bald eagle, soft-shell turtle, and catfish. Northern rough-winged swallows, for example, breed in riparian areas located along the Minnesota River during the summer. This design allows for plentiful swallow habitat by restoring the natural floodplain forests and introducing swallow nests carved into the modified concrete flood wall. When we look at aquatic species, catfish prefer deep pools to occupy during summer days. A series of large wing dams, which will be the first site elements to flood regularly, will help shape the underwater current and shoreline â€“ giving catfish a more natural and needed habitat. During the summer months, when river levels are low, these wing dams will also function as fishing piers, giving residents a new hot-spot to cast for catfish.
Riparian Vegetation Providing Habitat for
FLYWAY MIGRATION Dunlin American Golden-Plover
SUMMER (BREEDING) Northern Rough-winged Swallow Prothonotary Warbler
WINTER (NON-BREEDING) Bald Eagle Flathead Catfish
Blue Sucker Shovelnose Sturgeon
Smooth Softshell Mucket Mussel
Closer to the river sits a series of Flood Trails. Constructed of reclaimed concrete from the previous flood wall, these Flood Trails encourage a more adventurous experience. In this design, the existing flood wall will be deconstructed to form a set of smaller slabs, ranging anywhere from 3-6 feet in width, and 10 to 20 feet in length. The staggered design of these wall pieces reflect that of a fragmented system, a symbolic gesture of the onceuntouchable flood wall being strewn across the forest floor. While acting as a set of modern relics, the Flood Trails will be able to be inundated with water during peak flood events in the wet spring months.
HUBBARD PLAZA R|R
HUBBARD PLAZA Located in the shadow of Mankato’s most dominant skyline element - the impressive, white grain silos - sits Hubbard Plaza. The Hubbard Mill, for which this space is named, was constructed in 1878 as the largest flour mill in southern Minnesota. Although ownership of the mill has shifted to Cargill, the opportunity to showcase one of Mankato’s structural and economic landmarks is prudent. Hubbard Plaza combines a need for riverfront programmable space within the context of a towering icon. As all trails on site converge upon the plaza, design is focused on bringing site users together to occupy space that can be transformed to hold small concerts, motion picture projections, light shows, temporary art murals, and exhibitions showcasing the city’s historic past. Along with an elevated walkway connection to the newly-relocated Blue Earth County Historical Society, Hubbard Plaza is bound to attract residents and visitors alike to experience the spectacle of Mankato’s industrial narrative.
x775’ BW x785’ TW
Wall Walkway Minnesota River
River View Terrace x785’
Pedestrian Boardwalk x784’
x785’ x772’ BW x785’ TW
Memorial Bridge Connection
Minnesota River Trail Hubbard Walkway
Hubbard Plaza acts as a public open space and extension of the pedestrian boardwalk that snakes through the site. Its form and geometries are taken from the adjacent grain elevators and flood wall. Within this portion of the design, the existing concrete flood wall will remain intact due to the compression of available space between the river and rail lines, as well as an opportunity to use the flood wall to build the plaza up against. Designed to give residents great views of the river, Hubbard Plaza also becomes a transformative space that can be used for a variety of small events. The plaza space - with the backdrop of the tall structures - could be used to hold small concerts, light shows, temporary art murals, and exhibitions showcasing the city’s historic past. It is beneficial for Mankato to take advantage of one of its most notable and recognizable structures and give residents an up close and personal experience with the city’s manufacturing and agricultural history.
500 Year Flood 784’ 100 Year Flood 778’
1a Seasonal High 762’ Seasonal Low 750’
x785’ 1’-6” 1’-0”
Existing Concrete Flood Wall
River-view Terrace + Stage Lawn 5’
With the construction of infill development in Old Town and the relocation of the Blue Earth County Historical Society to the district, it is important to give users an accessible way to access the riverfront. The section elevations below display the elevated walkway over the railroad tracks, which connects Hubbard Plaza with the new Historical Society. Hubbard Plaza will be situated at an elevation higher than other spaces within the design - safely out of the 500 year floodplain. The diagrams on the opposite page show the inundation potential of the design, with the plaza at a safe height to provide uninterrupted space for activity.
Blue Earth County Historical Society
Southern Terrace Forest
Existing Flood Wall 766’x
Southern Terrace Forest 20’
Another key aspect of Hubbard Plaza is its function as a hub of activity, connectivity, and Old Town renewal. The plaza sits at the confluence of all the major trail systems on site. The boardwalk runs through, as does the Minnesota River Trail and one branch of the Flood Trails. A connector walkway to Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, seen here on the lower right, will also allow residents from North Mankato a quicker and more efficient means of getting down to the riverfront. Hubbard Plaza will act as one of many instances of Old Town renewal. Along with the Elm Street Gateway and improved pedestrian circulation within the site, the opportunity to educate and showcase Mankato’s historic legacy is important. Attracting more residents and visitors to Old Town will spur an even greater awareness and need for an enhanced pedestrian environment. Focusing on the aspects of Mankato’s industrial history will give a unique quality to a city in need of a renewed riverfront.
HUBBARD PLAZA FLOOD WALL REMNANT
The benefits of providing a resilient and re-imagined riverfront space far outweigh the perceived limitations of such a system. Flood protection infrastructure does not need to be static and colossal, it does not always need to be the rock â€“ it can be flexible and reflective of both the urban and riparian systems. Mankatoâ€™s connection to the Minnesota River has seemingly been forever altered, but that need not be the case. We must let design sensitivity take hold of the change that so frequently exists between the city and river. How can a city incorporate change and compromise into its own being? I am hoping this project underlines the need for river cities to recognize that their strongest asset is often times on the other side of the wall: a river worth designing for and bringing people to.
Literature Research Materials Bibliography
RESEARCH MATERIALS Base Material
Blue Earth County Historical Society (BECHS) David Rumsey Historic Map Collection Sanborn maps
Historic Aerial Images
DNR Minnesota Landview BECHS
AYTCH (Urban & Regional Studies Institute at MSU Mankato) BECHS
Current Aerial Imagery
City of Mankato
City-wide data layers (streets, infrastructure, utilities, storm water)
City of Mankato
MN Office of the Secretary
Land Use/Comp Plans
City of Mankato (avail. online)
City of Mankato Blue Earth County tax assessor
Local Zoning & Policies
City of Mankato
US Census Minnesota Compass
City of Mankato
Urban Design Guidelines
City of Mankato (avail. online)
City Parks & Trails
City of Mankato Damon Farber Associates
Ecology & Habitat
MN DNR MN River Basin Data Center Friends of the MN Valley
Soil & Geology
USGS Soil Conservation Service MN Geological Survey Blue Earth County Geologic Atlas
MN River Watershed
MN River Basin Data Center MN River Trends
Floodplain & MN River
FEMA MN River Basin Data Center NOAA
Mankato Flood Control & Policies
City of Mankato
Mankato Flood Wall
Army Corps of Engineers
BIBLIOGRAPHY Bell, Simon. 1997. Design for Outdoor Recreation. London: E & FN Spon. Bell’s book examines various aspects of facilities and systems associated with outdoor recreation. The text and specific diagrams act as a manual for designers to best approach the relationship between the landscape and the visitor. The chapter outlining Water-based recreation (p. 157-166) is especially helpful as it outlines fishing and boating design guidelines, in particular. Applying to my project, the text details everything from spatial and recreation planning to site-scale trail, water-based recreation, and education interventions. Although outdoor recreation design does not fall directly into the four main categories for this literature review, the text reveals valuable precedents of successful designs that incorporate landscapes with water access – a vital aspect of any riverfront design. Berrizbeitia, Anita. 2009. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates: Reconstructing Urban Landscapes. New Haven, CT: Yale UP. The author details various design projects designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, including projects in Toronto, Pittsburgh, and New York City. The Allegheny Riverfront Park in Pittsburgh is featured in the text and contains important design decisions regarding flooding. In addition to its space constraints and linearity, which is directly related to the potential site design for my project, the Allegheny Riverfront Park was designed to withstand the season flood events of the river. The flood conditions of the Allegheny (up to 20’ in severe events) are akin to the Minnesota River which I am studying (up to 25’ in severe events). Perhaps the most beneficial is the level of design sophistication and urban system integration of the project in order to reflect the idea that urban parks “such as this are not scenic but are dynamic, intrinsic inhabitants of their complex, fluxing environments”. Brooks, Kenneth N., Peter F. Ffolliott, and Joeseph A. Magner. 2013. Hydrology and the Management of Watersheds. Ames, IA: Wiley Blackwell. The text discusses a wide range of hydrologic processes through both technical and systematic approaches. Chapters 8-10 are especially helpful towards my Capstone project, as they detail Soil Erosion Processes and Control, Sediment Supply and Transport, and Fluvial Processes. The authors do a great job of outlining the primary issues associated with topics, such as erosion for example, and proceed to investigate how these processes can be quantified through the use of equations and examples. This will be beneficial when examining the Minnesota River’s erosion and sedimentation concerns and designing ways to cope and alleviate some of the hydrologic stresses associated with the issues.
Davidson, M. 2009. Waterfront Development. University of Western Sydney: Elsevier Ltd. Waterfront Development presents a broad and over arching view of the current and past systems related to cities located adjacent to water bodies. By taking a historical glance at how these transformations have occurred, it brings to light just how widespread and natural it is for these systems to change over time. The article examines urban development agendas, postindustrial landscapes, political significance, economic value, and sociocultural value of waterfront projects. There is no bias attributed to this article because it presents the material in a very matter-of-fact and educational format in addition to outlining the accounted values that waterfront development projects have created. Dreiseitl, Herbert, and Dieter Grau and Karl H.C. Ludwig. 2001. Waterscapes: Planning, Building and Designing with Water. Basel: Birkhauser. Waterscapes is a terrific collection of small-scale designs that intersect with water systems. The collection consists largely of European precedents and contains a wide variety of maps, diagrams, and detailed sections of how water can be better utilized in the landscape. One project that stands out to me is the Scheme for the banks of the Volme in Hagen (p. 92), which focuses design on the river edge. There was a need and want from the community to transform its riverfront, and redevelopment soon followed. This is very much a water-centric text that emphasizes the countless benefits of using water as both a design tool and design value. Gang, Jeanne. 2011. Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicagoâ€™s Waterways. Chicago: Studio Gang Architects. Reverse Effect is a collaborative project between Studio Gang Architects and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that examines the history and use of the Chicago River and creative alternatives to address its evolving future. The text outlines a studio taught by the author at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in which students envisioned solutions for the unique challenges and opportunities at Bubbly Creek, a proposed NRDC site that addresses restoring a natural diversion between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River to prevent the spread of Asian Carp into Lake Michigan. The scope of the projects presented in this text is relevant to my capstone project, largely in part due to the design and integration of multi-functional river infrastructure both at site and regional scale.
Gregory, Juana. 2003. Van Buren Riverfront Metamorphosis: The Development of Space. Thesis, University of Arkansas. Juana Gregory’s thesis on the Van Buren Riverfront examines the historic nature of riverfront cities, their relationship with the river in the current period, and riverfront design and development that can aid in their renewal. One of the most beneficial aspects of the paper was the inclusion of case studies she derived her design from (Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway, Cincinnati, OH, and Louisville, KY) and the scope of the project itself – very much in concert with the scope and size of the project I am working on. Van Buren and Mankato are nearly identical in terms of their development patterns and riverfront patterns over time. The comparisons I can draw from this thesis will aid in strengthening my own project. Gregory, Stanley V., Frederick J. Swanson, W. Arthur McKee, and Kenneth W. Cummins. 1991. An Ecosystem Perspective of Riparian Zones. Bioscience 41.8: 540-551. The article, An Ecosystem Perspective of Riparian Zones, examines the characteristics, qualities, and systems within riparian zones. The basis for the article is to overview the abundant processes that occur within these zones while also shedding light on the need to incorporate these processes into a conceptual framework. Within the opening paragraph, the authors state the goal to “propose a conceptual model of riparian zones” that addresses the wide array of processes that shape the system. In the past, the riparian zone system has been largely classified and studied as a combination of individual parts, rather than as a whole. A majority of the article discusses previous findings related to riparian zones; processes including geomorphology, landform, vegetation, soil, nutrient uptake, and aquatic invertebrates and vertebrates. Despite the benefits of summarizing the process in a clear format, the article falls short when trying to determine or frame a conceptual framework for studying riparian zones moving forward. Nonetheless, the article is very helpful for my project in terms of providing valuable information and a comprehensive analysis regarding riparian zones – a key system within the impending design. Herrington, Susan. 2009. On Landscapes. New York: Routledge. Herrington’s On Landscapes examines the emotional and social effects that landscapes have on our cultural and societal values. By diving into topics such as the ‘naturalized’ landscape, memory and emotion, and imaginative place-making, Herrington presents examples and syntheses related to current-day design. On Landscapes fits well into my project scope because of its investigation of the human conditions, both within and because of landscape design - a precursor to my studies of public space within a conceptually ‘naturalized’ riverfront.
James, Douglas L. and Scott F. Korom. 2001. Lessons from Grand Forks: Planning Structural Flood Control Measures. Natural Hazards Review 2.1: 22-32. Douglas and Koromâ€™s article regarding the Grand Forks flood control measures was an eye-opening read as it revealed the surprises and issues that came about in response to the 1997 flood. The article describes the need for the community and its people to have access to accurate floodplain maps, have forecasts for flood stages, and to agree on alternative methods to flood mitigation. The Grand Forks flood and subsequent response is an excellent case study because of the similarities to Mankato and its floods in 1951 and 1965. Although the article detailed the flood response before design of a new system took hold, it presents an excellent example of how to address flood issues before they arise. Kemp, Roger L. 2001. Main Street Renewal: A Handbook for Citizens and Public Officials. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. The author of Main Street Renewal has collected a range of case studies and professional articles that address techniques and case studies detailing organization, management, and tools required for successful community revitalization. Strategies included in this text that will be beneficial to research further in regards to my capstone project include tax increment financing and small business development tools. There is little to no bias used in this text as the material is presented in an orderly and obtainable fashion, with case studies supporting the main ideas. Researching downtown revitalization strategies is vital to examining the capstone project through the economics lens.
Musser, Kimberly, Scott Kudelka, Richard Moore, and Project Partners. Minnesota River Basin Trends. 2009. Minnesota State University Mankato. This report documents finds and analysis gathered by faculty at the Water Resources Center from Minnesota State University Mankato as well as the MN Pollution Control Agency and The Minnesota River Watershed Alliance. The report is meant to act as a broad overview of the many ecological, hydrological, and social issues at play within the Minnesota River Basin. Topics examine include history of the basin, land use and demographics, water quantity and quality, aquatic and terrestrial life, recreation, and emerging trends. I have found this report extremely beneficial because it provides an in-depth overview of the entire Minnesota River Basin in addition to specifying specific management practices and trends. Water quality of rivers and streams is detailed on page 31 and provides numerous sites that have shown an overall decrease in pollution over the past few decades. However, the Minnesota River is still the most polluted river in the state, largely due to agricultural runoff. This report is helpful because it outlines the current problems, examines emerging trends, and suggest strategies that communities can take to better care for their river. Miguez, Marcelo Gomes, and Flavio Cesar Borba Mascarenhas, Luiz Paulo Canedo de Magalhaes, and Carlo Fabiano Vellozo Dâ€™Alterio. 2009. Planning and Design of Urban Flood Control Measures: Assessing Effects Combination. Journal of Urban Planning and Development 1.35: 100-109. Planning and Design of Urban Flood Control Measures consists largely of investigating the urban system and its effect on flood control and mitigation design. The article does an impressive job by laying out the current paradigm of traditional flood control methods while also balancing the need of modeling and improved techniques to get a better hold on flood events in the future. A mathematical flow cell model, based from work from Zanobetti et al. (1970), was used on a case study located in the Joana River in Brazil. Site analysis and mathematical modeling was used to create a proposed set of design interventions best suited for the site. This article will be beneficial towards my Capstone project because it argues the point that urban river systems should be modeled and analyzed more in depth than in the traditional sense, prompting the creation of a more resilient and site-specific design for each project.
Schneekloth, Lynda H., and Robert G. Shibley. 1995. Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Communities. New York: Wiley. Placemaking details collective strategies aimed to invigorate placemaking and its systematic design within society. Four unique case studies are explored within the text, each with its own circumstances and how placemaking was a necessity to further the design. One of the most important realizations put forth from the text is the need for placemaking to exhibit not only the creation of relationships between people and places - but also the creation of relationships among people in places. An overview of ways to achieve this, such as designing dialogue spaces and encouraging increase neighborhood and civic participation, will help guide me in how to approach and talk with both the city staff and neighborhood groups. Tate, Alan. 2001. Great City Parks. London: Spon. Great City Parks is a collection of case studies of various large urban parks from around the world. The author goes into great detail regarding the history and construction, spatial constraints, program, and successes of the parks. A great example that is described in the text is Freeway Park in Seattle. Because of its physical site location – primarily over a transport route – it is a valuable case study when looking at the conflux of infrastructure and green public space. Although it is still unforeseen what scope of public space will be designed within my Capstone project, this text offers valuable precedents for how public spaces are constructed, integrated, and perceived within the urban context. Thompson, George F., and Frederick R. Steiner. 1997. Ecological Design and Planning. New York: John Wiley. Thompson and Steiner’s Ecological Design and Planning is based upon a collection of essays from notable landscape architects, planners, and designers including James Corner, Laurie Olin, and Ian McHarg. The essays cover a wide breadth of topics all connected to ecological design and its purpose and focus within the field. The authors have collected essays that speak towards the need for increased attention to ecological-based design, often with examples that illustrate the transformation of the landscape architecture field. This book has been helpful towards my project because it has pushed me to focus on both designing within the bounds of the field while exploring new avenues to think outside of the box.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: St. Paul District. 2004. Minnesota River Basin Reconnaissance Study: Section 905(b) Analysis. This reconnaissance study put forth by the Army Corps of Engineers is a detailed examination that outlines characteristics, features, past projects, and future projects along the Minnesota River. Although the document explores the entire reach of the river, it is a very helpful document when trying to understand the hydrologic and ecologic systems of the Minnesota. A particularly helpful piece is the section on Water Quality, which examines the current state of pollutants in the river and what is being done to help mitigate those problems. In addition, the section on Flooding describes in detail various projects the Army Corps has constructed, including the flood walls in Mankato and North Mankato. The article is very much an informational and static text that uses little to no bias and is a helpful article when trying to understand the broad and complex issues regarding the Minnesota River. Vogt, Gunther, and Alice Foxley. 2010. Distance and Engagement: Walking, Thinking and Making Landscape. Lars Mueller Verlag: Springer Verlag. Distance and Engagement is a collection and investigation into the design works and processes of Vogt Landscape Architects. The book acts as a product of these processes, examining everything from site visits to model-making to the intricacies of ecological systems worked into their designs. One project I found particularly helpful was the Novartis Campus Park design in Basel (p. 135-227). The attention to detail when going through design process and the abundance of analysis into geologic and hydrologic history of the site paved way for an incredibly intricate and appropriate design. I plan on using the Vogt process â€“ preparation, site visits, analysis, and multi-layered design â€“ to help move my design project along. Walker, Brian, and David Salt. 2006. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington: Island Press. Walker and Saltâ€™s Resilience Thinking focuses on defining and providing strategies and solutions towards achieving resiliency. The text details up numerous case studies including the Florida Everglades, the lake district of Wisconsin, and wetland systems of Sweden and how strategies for sustainability and resilience have moved toward solutions. The book also delves into defining key terms related to resilience, such as threshold, baseline, and variability. Resilience Thinking correlates directly with the topic I am researching: river and urban systems need to coexist in a more resilient fashion in order to accentuate and provide long-term benefits for users and the environment.
Watson, Donald, and Michele Adams. 2011. Design for Flooding: Architecture, Landscape, and Urban Design for Resilience to Flooding and Climate Change. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Design for Flooding presents both a broad and narrow scope when it comes to designing, engineering, and planning with flood-based infrastructure and systems. The first half of the book discusses broad topics such as weather, land and water interactions, and flooding on coastal and riverine systems. The second half of the text looks more in depth with strategies and solutions, often times in case study format, geared toward flood mitigation and resilience design. The material presented is linked very closely to my design proposal, mostly in conjunction with flood system management and riverine flooding conditions. More importantly, the text devotes a chapter to resiliency tied to flooding design - the core of my project. Wells, Barbara. 2003. Downtown revitalization in urban neighborhoods and small cities. Northeast Midwest Institute. Wellsâ€™ article is devoted primarily to case studies detailing downtown redevelopment strategies and successes from across the country. Infill development relies on a variety of design principles that are outlined within the article such as engaging citizens in identifying a community vision, reclaiming blighted areas to restore economic and social systems, and providing more connections for neighborhoods to transportation and recreation opportunities. The article follows a consistent format for each case study: Features, Challenge, Turning Point, Approach, and Results. This is helpful towards my project because it outlines communities with similar demographic and urban systems as Mankato that are experiencing redevelopment opportunities.
Michael Schiebe email@example.com Capstone Project Masterâ€™s of Landscape Architecture University of Minnesota College of Design - 2014