American Swedish Institute, Nelson Cultural Center

Gathering Place For All

Inspired by the American Swedish Institute’s historic Turnblad mansion of 1903, the Nelson Cultural Center consists of traditional Swedish aesthetics while integrating sustainable technologies. The landscape draws inspiration from diverse Swedish landscapes, including Swedish Gords (a series of small outdoor rooms), and open lawns, here providing a field over 90 geothermal wells while doubling as a gathering space. Additional features recall Sweden’s rich design history through traditional planted forms and species native to both Sweden and Minnesota, from the imaginary gardens of Pippi Longstocking to the historic gardens of famed Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

Sustainable materials include low-maintenance plantings, pervious paving, high-efficiency irrigation, and a sloping green roof and terrace that reduce energy costs and rainwater run-off. The addition, which
includes a geothermal heating and cooling system, green roof, extensive daylighting and use of natural materials and native plantings, has received a LEED v2.2 Gold rating.


Minneapolis, MN

Building Type

Museums & Cultural Centers


42,545 SF

  • 2015 Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums Buildy Award
  • 2014 Minnesota Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award
  • 2014 IES/IIDA Regional Energy & Environment Award for Lighting Desing
  • 2014 IES/IIDA Section Energy & Environment Award for Lighting Desing
  • 2013 Regional ASHRAE Technology Award, New Public Assembly
  • 2013 Finance & Commerce Magazine, Top Projects of 2012
  • 2013 IIDA Northland Chapter, Interior Design FAB Honor Award
  • 2012 AIA Minnesota Honor Award

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