University of Minnesota, Bruininks Hall, Landscape

Learning Center

The Bruininks Hall site redefines the University’s southwest entrance with a welcoming network of arced paths and stairs along a 50-foot riverfront grade. Collectively, the landscape elements of the beautifully address the river and the architecture while providing a greater sense of place within the larger campus.

Sited prominently along the banks of the Mississippi River, Bruininks Hall, in conjunction with the Weisman Art Museum, creates a new gateway to the East Bank campus along Washington Avenue. As with any university campus, pedestrian circulation is an important factor to consider when designing buildings and outdoor spaces. The new building understands and exemplifies this by resembling a stone in the confluence of a river of students, as they pass by on their way to and from classes.

Within this flow of activity are three major outdoor spaces. The first space is the Upper Terrace located between Appleby Hall and the new building on the Washington Avenue bridge-deck level. This space melds the classic campus expression with the new modern expression. A long, seatwall comprised of the same materials of the new building creates a strong, northern edge to the Terrace. A large circular seatwall planter containing a multi-stem tree is placed at the edge of the space. It creates a beautiful, seasonal focal point while providing great overlook opportunities to downtown Minneapolis and the river valley below. Along the east façade a bridge connects students to the raised plaza over Washington Avenue and onto the East and West Bank Campuses.

Moving down a level by means of a grand sweeping stair one enters the Piazza. This mid-level space offers movable tables and chairs providing opportunities to gather, relax or study. Pavers of the same materials of the building unify the space.

Upon exiting the Piazza the grand stair continues down to the Lower Terrace at the East Mississippi road level. The Lower Terrace has two bosques of trees that provide filtered shade for the movable seating below. With its west exposure it has an extended microclimate to allow students and staff to enjoy the outdoors


Minneapolis, MN

Building Type

Academic STEM & Research, Learning Spaces


  • 2012 Regional ASHRAE Technology Award New Education Building
  • 2011 IES Illumination Award of Excellence (national)
  • 2011 Finance & Commerce Magazine Top 10 Projects of 2010
  • 2011 IES/IIDA Regional Energy and Environmental Award for Lighting Design
  • 2011 IES/IIDA Section Energy and Environmental Award for Lighting Design
  • 2010 Minnesota Concrete Council Structural Design Merit Award
  • 2010 Aggregate & Ready Mix Association of Minnesota Commercial Building First Place

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