Seattle-based architecture and urban design firm Mithun has been selected by Wenk Associates as part of a consulting team for its Great River Park Master Planning project in St. Paul, Minn.

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Mithun will be responsible for urban design and sustainable strategies – identifying opportunities for architectural interventions as well as assess opportunities to positively impact energy, water use and the ecosystem of the Great River Park on the Mississippi River.

“This project is essentially about redefining the relationship between the Mississippi River and the city of Saint Paul,” says Mark Shapiro, Mithun urban designer. “There’s a great opportunity to reconnect the city with the river and in the process restore the ecological health of the Mississippi River within the park.”

The city historically has been separated from the river, with big bluffs for most of the lengths of the river and virtually no other connection down to the water’s edge.

Through the master plan project, the city’s goal is to develop strategies for development and management of the park, including some obsolete industrial areas that present significant opportunities for redevelopment and integration with the park.

A key element informing the master plan is the major cultural diversity St. Paul has experienced over past 20-30 years, transforming from a predominantly Northern European population to one that includes a large number of cultural and ethnic groups.

Mithun’s work includes conducting extensive community outreach to gain a deeper understanding of what various community groups care about and want in the city’s vision for a park to ensure that the interests of a very diverse population are represented.

Also key to Mithun’s work is exploring what future development might look like once this connection between river and city takes place.

Leading the project and the consultant team is Wenk Associates, a Denver-based planning and landscape architecture firm with which Mithun has a long relationship.