Month: August 2019

Ryan Companies Heart of the City Project Kicks into High Gear

Rendering of Wells Fargo Building project While the renovation of the Chateau Theatre has rightly earned headlines for its potential to transform downtown Rochester’s Heart of the City sub-district, another less publicized renovation project is happening in tandem that will likely have significant impact on the Destination Medical Center plans.

The 1981-built Wells Fargo Building at 21 First Street SW admittedly is not a local cultural icon like the historic theater – in fact, its presence has been rather utilitarian with its walled-off architecture and forbidding façade of dark, reflective glass. Thus, it’s understandable why the ongoing $26 million reimagining hasn’t excited the same level of public interest as the Chateau.

But it probably should. The Wells Fargo Building has three key features which, under the new ownership of Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies, will address important Heart of the City goals. It’s one of the few downtown structures with access to the subway, skyway and ground levels; its location on First Street SW lies on a key downtown block; and its access to the Peace Plaza provides a unique chance to “activate” an underused existing public space.

The Ryan Companies Heart of the City project is a prime example of how private development initiatives arising organically and independently of the DMC effort can be woven into the fabric of the larger picture, said Patrick Seeb, director of economic development and placemaking for the DMC Economic Development Agency.

“Ryan Companies have been an incredible partner on this project, exactly the right kind of people to come in and take on this very important project,” he said. “They showed flexibility. They came in with a pre-existing vision for the building but quickly responded to the chance to expand and enhance that opportunity.”

That collaborative process, which included a relatively modest amount of DMC funding, will result in a much more inviting and “porous” building featuring copious amounts of clear glass. It will also fill in a vital new piece of the puzzle in making downtown more walkable by introducing an easy-to-navigate pedestrian link between the city’s skyway, street and subway levels.

Historic Chateau Theatre Enters a New Era

Amy Noble Seitz at Chateau TheatreIt won’t be long until Rochester, Minnesota’s historic Chateau Theatre is once again full of life. On August 19, Rochester City Council approved a contract with Exhibits Development Group (EDG) as the operator and manager of the venue. The very next morning, Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA), the City of Rochester and community leaders were on hand to welcome EDG to its new home.

EDG plans to bring international touring exhibits as well as regional and local art experiences to the space. There are also plans for a café and retail space in the building.

Renovated Chateau Theatre

“Chateau Theatre is renowned in this region and it has long been my dream to bring it back to its former glory,” said Amy Noble Seitz, founder and CEO of EDG. “Rochester is known around the world as a Destination Medical Center. Chateau is a key part of the arts ecosystem in this area and we believe it can be the catalyst to continue to build the Rochester region as a destination for arts and culture lovers.”

Ridership Grows in Rochester’s Bike Share Program

Bike outside Rochester Public LibraryRidership in Rochester’s Bike Share program is at an all-time high. So far this year, bikes have been checked out more than 360 times, and organizers are already planning exciting changes for next year. The program allows anyone to borrow a bike, free of charge, from May to mid-October. This year, there are about 30 bikes available at three locations in downtown Rochester. Organizers also added a new electric-assist cargo bike to the fleet this year, available to borrow at the Rochester Public Library.

“We are extremely pleased at the response we’ve had to the bike program,” said Keri Ostby, Head of Technical Services at Rochester Public Library and We Bike Rochester Board Member. “Though the bikes are used for recreation purposes by residents and visitors, they are often used as transportation for getting to work and shopping. The electric-assist Radpower Cargo bike is in high demand with the most common uses for the e-bike being errands, work travel, and appointments.”

Beyond heavy usage from community members, visitors from states like North Carolina, Michigan, and Washington, and from countries, including Pakistan, Mexico, and India have made use of the program.

Art + Design in Public Space Series: Art, Public Realm and Wellness

The Heart of the City design team is pleased to invite you to join panel discussions and conversations on the role of art and design in creating vibrant public spaces.

The August 22 topic will be discussing how art in the public realm creates new dialogues around wellness and the vitality of communities with Rochester-based artist Eric Anderson, Dr. Steve Ommen, Mayo Clinic, and curator Hesse McGraw, el dorado.  

Anderson will provide an overview of his artistic practice and the evolution of The Artery, which he is developing for Heart of the City. Dr. Ommen played a vital role in the Artery’s activation as a prototype and continues to oversee its connection with Mayo Clinic. McGraw will share precedents of unexpected artist-driven works in the public realm that communicate wellness and the vitality of communities. As curator for Heart of the City artist integration, McGraw will also share artists’ works currently in development for Rochester. 

To reserve your space, register here. This event is free and open to everyone, space is limited.

The Art + Design in Public Space Series kicked off earlier this summer with topics ranging from how universal design and access is a key to social equity, to how art and design can reflect local context and values and how to create meaningful interaction and spectacle. 

Upcoming Art + Design in Public Space series will be presented by artists Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Ann Hamilton, and Nicole and Seth Nfonoyim-Hara. Future event details to be announced. 

Panelist Biographies:

Eric Anderson is a writer and artist living in Rochester, MN. His interactive installations have been commissioned by or featured in collaboration with the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity at the University of Paris, France, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute, Mayo Clinic, the Open Source Pharma Foundation, Destination Medical Center and the Rochester Art Center. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his writing has appeared in Granta, American Letters & Commentary, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He has taught for the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota-Rochester and the Mayo Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine. For more, please visit:

Steve R. Ommen, M.D.

Dr. Steve R. Ommen is a Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Consultant in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine.  He serves as the Director of the Mayo Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Clinic, the largest and longest-standing dedicated HCM Center in the world.  Mayo’s HCM clinic is recognized as a leader in clinical outcomes, research, and patient education. Dr. Ommen is also Co-director of the Structural Heart Disease program, Medical Director for AskMayoExpert, Associate Dean of the Center for Connected Care, and Medical Director(i), Mayo Global Business Solutions

Dr. Ommen has earned many awards throughout his career including the Outstanding Achievement Award in Clinical Cardiology, the Mayo Award of Individual Excellence, the Mayo Award for Team Excellence, the Excellence in Teaching Recognition for Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and the Outstanding Course Director Award from the Mayo School of Continuing Medical Education.  He has been recognized as one of the top 15 Digital Healthcare Executives.

Hesse McGraw

Hesse McGraw is a partner and curator at el dorado inc, a unique cross-disciplinary practice founded in 1996 in Kansas City, Missouri that moves fluidly between architecture, urban design, curatorial and fabrication projects. Hesse is a curator and writer, and most recently served as Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs at San Francisco Art Institute. His curatorial practice and arts organization leadership are acclaimed for shifting organizations and places into springboards that expand the agency of artists beyond the gallery.

His noted long-term projects include commissioning Jill Magid’s work The Proposal (2014 – ongoing), which offers the gift of architect Luis Barragán’s body in the form of a two-carat diamond engagement ring in exchange for the return of his body of work to Mexico; Michael Jones McKean’s public artwork The Rainbow (2012 – ongoing), which generates actual prismatic rainbows at civic scale from recycled water; and Theaster Gates’ Carver Bank (2012 – 2016) in Nebraska, which convened a space of urban ecstasy that supported artists living and working in North Omaha. Through these collaborations, more than 75 curated exhibitions, and extensive public and educational programs, Hesse has powerfully shared the instrumental role of artists in igniting public imagination and animating our largest problems.


City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center Seek Community Feedback on Transit Circulator Route and Mode

The Hop Streetcar in Milwaukee, WI

The City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) are seeking community feedback on the proposed transit circulator route and mode – either bus rapid transit or modern streetcar.  The full presentation provided to the City Council on August 5, 2019, can be found here.

Teammates from the City of Rochester and DMC EDA will be staffing a booth at Thursdays Downtown on August 22 and 29, 2019, to share more information about the potential routes, modes, funding sources and timeline.

The booth is located near the Peace Plaza.

Community members can also provide feedback through the City’s online survey tool, Polco.

A Line BRT in Saint Paul, MN

The purpose of the transit circulator is to provide high quality and reliable downtown public transportation service for residents, commuters, businesses, patients, students, and visitors that will support the City of Rochester and DMC district transportation, economic development, and livability goals and substantially increase public transportation use downtown Rochester.

Mortenson Plans a Sequel to One Discovery Square

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Two Discovery Square (left) with One Discovery Square (right).

Mortenson has submitted plans with the City of Rochester for a new development – Two Discovery Square – adjacent to its One Discovery Square life science building in downtown Rochester, MN. This news comes as global tenants continue to be announced in One Discovery Square, including most recently, Philips and Boston Scientific.

The proposed five-story, 124,000 square foot building furthers Mortenson’s bioscience, research and collaboration vision within the Destination Medical Center (DMC) Discovery Square subdistrict.

“One Discovery Square, highlighted by a number of recently communicated tenant announcements, has been a terrific success,” said Brent Webb, Mortenson Development Manager. “For that reason, we remain bullish on the future of the Discovery Square subdistrict. The Site Development Plan we submitted is evidence of that optimism and confidence, and it will be a positive step toward advancing the project once approved.”

“One Discovery Square is a great example of the DMC plan playing out in a very successful way – as a catalyst and economic generator to attract new businesses and jobs,” said Lisa Clarke, DMC Economic Development Agency executive director.  “This success compels new developments in the Discovery Square subdistrict. We look forward to these discussions as Discovery Square continues to grow.”

Mortenson will share its vision for Two Discovery Square with the DMC Corporation board of directors at its September 26 meeting.

Meet the New 4th Street in Downtown Rochester

4th Street SW in Rochester nears completionPedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers will have an improved experience on 4th Street SW in the Discovery Square sub-district in downtown Rochester as a major reconstruction project nears completion. Crews have been working to update the stretch of road between 1st Avenue and 6th Avenue over the past year.

The $5.3 million project, which includes Destination Medical Center (DMC) funding, features several improvements, including repaving the road, replacing a water main more than a century old, and upgrading the downtown area’s sanitary sewer capacity.

The bike box is painted onto the street on 4th Street SW.

Pedestrians will experience wider sidewalks, shortened crosswalks and raised medians at intersections. A “curbless” intersection is being installed at 4th Street SW and 2nd Avenue SW, which is also where the future Discovery Walk, a linear parkway connecting Soldiers Field Park to the Heart of the City, will cross.

The addition of buffered bicycle lanes will increase the distance between bikes and vehicles by adding a barrier in between the road and bike lanes. The intersection at 1st Avenue SW will also have the city’s first “bike box.” This is a special marking on the pavement that directs bicyclists to pull in front of vehicles while stopped at a traffic light for greater visibility. Meanwhile, drivers will have access to more on-street parking spots.

The community is invited to “Meet the New 4th Street” at an open-house style event on August 29 from 3-7 p.m. The eastbound lanes of 4th Street SW between 1st Avenue SW and 2nd Avenue SW will be closed to vehicular traffic during that time to allow people to more comfortably explore the area and see the changes firsthand.

Representatives from DMC Economic Development Agency, the City of Rochester, We Bike Rochester, Olmsted County Public Health, Arrive Rochester, and Lime Scooter will be on hand to demonstrate the new features. “Nice Ride” bikes and helmets will be available for people to test out the new buffered bicycle lanes and bike box. Several organizations will be offering prizes and giveaways, including a drawing for a commuter bike from We Bike Rochester.

Destination Medical Center’s Annual Meeting

Register Today for Destination Medical Center’s Annual Meeting

Thursday, September 19, 2019, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
Discovery Square
202 4th Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902

5:30 – 6:30 PM

Registration and Reception

6:30 – 8:00 PM
Dinner and Program (Outdoor Event)
$40 per person
Advanced ticket purchase required

Featuring remarks by:
DMCC Board Chair R.T. Rybak
DMC EDA Board Chair Jeff Bolton
DMC EDA Executive Director Lisa Clarke

Discovery Walk Interactive Experience and One Discovery Square Community Celebration 
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Celebratory Kickoff & Community Photo at 4:15 pm
Free to attend and open to everyone.
Experience science on display with participating One Discovery Square tenants, food, drink, art, games, and live music outside.
PLUS, self-guided tours inside One Discovery Square.
Follow the One Discovery Square Community Celebration Facebook Page for more information.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Help the Heart of the City Team Make Downtown Rochester Alleys Fun and Inviting at Thursdays Downtown on August 15

The Heart of the City team is inviting the public to help bring downtown Rochester alleys and streets alive through artistic expression. Alleys are becoming a unique part of America’s cities – going beyond their basic function in ways that are fun, inviting and active. 

Throughout the country, formerly unused or neglected alleys have become spaces where people can gather, attend events, enjoy art and sidewalk cafes and for economic development activities.

Part of the design for Heart of the City is converting the alley between 2nd Street and Center Street from simple passageway to a thoroughfare of community inspiration. The team is taking inspiration from The Cove, where Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA), Cafe Steam and Canvas & Chardonnay have been working on repurposing the third street alley by integrating art and design installations into the space. You can learn more about the project here.

At Thursdays Downtown on August 15, the public is invited to help the Heart of the City team come up with ideas for murals and patterns for the streets in the downtown area. You’ll have the chance to mock up murals using duct tape and create paving patterns, which will be used by the team to inspire the final designs. 

This is an all-ages, all-abilities event – so come as you are, grab a friend, the whole family or just bring yourself. For those interested in creating murals and paving patterns, come to the facades at the 1st Street Alley by Chateau Theatre, from 3 PM to 6 PM and show your community your creative ideas. 

Duct tape and chalk will be available for you to create your paving and mural ideas. All ideas will be documented through photography and used by the design team and client group to inspire the design of the Heart of the City alley. 

For inspiration, see how other cities have used murals and paving patterns to showcase their town’s unique personality: 


Big Fish//Upfest Festival Berlin 

Tape Graffiti by Artist Gustavo Fuentes

Mary Carter Taub Los Muertos FPG Bilingüe School Chapel Hill, NC

Mary Carter Taub Floored! ArtsCenter Carrboro, NC 

Paving patterns:

Crosswalk Art in Cultural District Destination Lancaster, CA

Art Crosswalk Downtown San Jose, CA

Polk Streetscape Project Fern Valley San Francisco, CA

We hope to see you on August 15 during Thursdays Downtown.