Westminster Presbyterian Church has been an anchor at the southern end of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis for more than 100 years. It just opened its new 40,000 sq ft expansion at the end of January 2018, and we were fortunate to hear our grandson sing in just the second event to be hosted in this impressive new space.
When I first saw it, I mistakenly guessed the architect was Frank Gehry, who designed the distinctive Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus. But upon closer examination we discovered it was instead designed by James Dayton Designs, who also designed the MacPhail Center for Music down the street from the Guthrie Theater.
It turns out the comparison was likely inevitable. Not only is Frank Gehry a friend of James Dayton, Dayton’s first architecture job was working in Frank Gehry’s studio so he is also his mentor.
It made me think of the amazing Purcell-Cutts House near Lake of the Isles. This home has Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School sensibilities written all over it, but it was designed by William Purcell, who had worked alongside Frank Lloyd Wright and George Elmslie in Chicago under Louis Sullivan, who has been called the father of modernism. Great minds nurture each other.
Westminster Presbyterian Church is known for its Westminster Town Hall Forums and its engaged presence in the community. Its new expansion is not only an architectural gem, but also brings needed community services to downtown.
In the words of Pastor Tim Hart-Andersen, “We wanted to create a space for the 21st Century. It is very light and transparent. It’s more engaged with the world around it. It’s what we want to do as a congregation.”
It makes me think of its historic building anchoring Nicollet Avenue for over a century, with its signature 1976 Paul Granlund sculpture and bell tower both reaching skyward. The original church has delicate light filtering in from its rose window. In the new expansion, that circular window is lifted upward to the sky with the same theme of reaching to the heavens, this time with full light flooding in and dozens of delicate suspended lights uniting heaven and earth.
Would you like to live near here? There are both condos and townhouses along the pedestrian Loring Greenway extending from Nicollet Mall at Westminster Presbyterian Church to Loring Park. Let us know if you would like to take a look at Downtown Minneapolis homes for sale.
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