Lander Group
Lander Group Urban Development





November 24, 2004

Twenty-six foot tall sculpture reaches up and out to the community

New public art to be installed in Minneapolis’ Longfellow Neighborhood

Minneapolis—A long anticipated public art sculpture is about to take its place at the center of a new public plaza which serves as a community gathering place for residents of Minneapolis’ Longfellow Neighborhood. The 26 foot tall bronze cast sculpture depicts a raised torch emitting a bright gold flame, serving as a welcoming beacon to both neighborhood residents and visitors approaching the neighborhood from all directions. The sculpture is the creation of Andrea Mykelbust, a well-know public artist and resident of the Longfellow neighborhood, and is the crowning touch for West River Commons, an award-winning mixed-use development at the northwest corner of East Lake Street on West River Parkway, overlooking the Mississippi River. In addition to the public plaza and art, the development brought 53 smoke-free rental apartments, 20% of which rent at affordable housing rates; three ownership townhomes; and a collection of retail service businesses to Longfellow, one of Minneapolis’ gateway neighborhoods.

Installation of the sculpture is planned to begin between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Monday, November 29. The installation process is expected to take less than an hour. (More specific information on timing will be available from Mary Altman, 612-673-3006, on Monday morning . )

A dedication of the plaza and its centerpiece sculpture will occur at a later date. The artwork in progress, including the assembled flame, can be found at

In addition to the torch, the circular plaza features a masonry seatwall constructed of brick, fieldstone and carved limestone; a series of Indiana limestone benches, with most of the sawn and split surfaces left untouched and smaller areas of hand-carved work depicting river and water-related imagery. Seating is designed so that people can either look into the circle or out to the scenic Mississippi gorge. A variety of plants native to the wilder environment of the river gorge are also incorporated into the plaza.

The concept for incorporating a piece of public art into the West River Commons development was part of the project from the beginning. Once Myklebust was selected to do the work, she collaborated with The Lander Group, the project developer; Close Landscape Architects, the Longfellow Community Council and City of Minneapolis’ Art in Public Places project to come up with a concept that would represent the unique characteristics of the community and nearby river gorge. The City and the Community Council provided $25,000 each to commission the work. The commission includes the artist’s fee for design development, as well as a portion of the cost of the plaza enhancements.

West River Commons is a joint venture of The Lander Group and @Home Apartments. in partnership with Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development. LaSalle Bank was the major lender. Shaw Lundquist was the general contractor. Architectural and landscape architecture services were provided by DJR and Close Landscape Architecture, respectively.

Ground was broken on the project in the fall of 2002. In the summer of 2004, when the project was almost complete, it was destroyed by fire. The developer, with strong support from the community and the City, made a decision to rebuild. People began to occupy the apartments in August. They are now 85% occupied. The three ownership townhomes have been sold .

Retail at the site includes Dunn Bros Coffee, Papa Murphy’s, and Clean’n’Press will begin opening in a similar time frame. A new restaurant, The Longfellow Grille, will open January 2005.

Andrea Myklebust is a sculptor and alumna of Macalester College. An architect's daughter, her activity outside of the fine arts has included years of grass-roots work in neighborhood organizations' community development initiatives to encourage the creation of a lively, high quality public realm in our towns and cities. She has a strong interest in the integration of art and architecture, and in the constructive role public art plays within our communities and their civic spaces. Projects she has worked on include the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the Capitol, inlaid stone floors at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a pedestrian plaza and fountain in Iowa City, Iowa, a carillon tower for North Hennepin Community College, a monumental gateway sculpture and lantern for the city of Hamilton, Ohio, and the creation of public artworks and spaces in communities throughout the Midwest and beyond.

The Lander Group is an award-winning urban development firm based in Minneapolis. It specializes in producing distinctive, high-quality residential and commercial buildings in the cities on Minneapolis, St. Paul and Des Moines. Lander Group projects are designed to reflect the unique character of the neighborhoods in which they are located. Over the last 20 years, the firm has built a strong reputation in new construction, adaptive reuse of existing properties and historic preservation.

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