Creative City Challenge winning project is Balancing Ground



Creative City Challenge winning project is Balancing Ground


Public voting determined winner of $75,000 commission that will debut June 14 at the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza


MINNEAPOLIS, March 7, 2014 The Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC), The Arts, Culture and Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis and Meet Minneapolis, Convention & Visitors Association, in collaboration with Northern and the Northern Spark festival announce the winner of the 2014 Creative City Challenge is Balancing Ground, one of three projects vying for public votes to receive the $75,000 commission to create the project and debut at the MCC Plaza on June 14 as part of the Northern Spark, an annual dusk-to-dawn festival with tens of thousands of participants, taking place in Minneapolis this year. The project will also be featured on the plaza throughout the summer and host three events for the public.


Balancing Ground by Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites & Sarah West is a welcoming interactive space that can be activated by one or 100 people. It is continually transforming, with complex shadows patterns and colors woven throughout the space from an overhead canopy of prisms. Balancing Ground presents a space for playful participation and quiet, reflective moments. It is a space without wallsopen to allbuilt on a foundation of community voices. If you are willing to listen, Balancing Ground will literally speak to you.


The installation will consist of long rows of wood benches interrupted with a series of playground teeter-totters which will be surrounded by a large wood structure with a canopy of prisms and reflective fragments strung between rafters. Further details and a video about the project can be viewed at


We are so excited to be a part of the Creative City Challenge and we are thrilled that our project will be built this summer! said Lovelee. As a team of four artists from four different creative backgrounds, we approached this project with varied perspectives and ambitions, and this interdisciplinary collaboration has pushed us to combine uncommon elements. We think the merging of interaction of activity serious and silly, serene and active, sacred and playful will make this project an engaging, inviting experience for visitors to the MCC plaza.


Summer events at MCC Plaza featuring Balancing Ground


The MCC Plaza and featured project Balancing Ground will host a series of summer events meant to bring residents and visitors out to interact and explore.


  • Northern Spark Saturday, June 14:
    Balancing Ground will be unveiled and featured at the Northern Spark festival on June 14 at 8:30 p.m. during the opening ceremonies on the MCC Plaza. Northern Spark is the premier dusk-to-dawn public arts festival in Minnesota, expected to draw a crowd of 50,000 passionate attendees. The opening ceremonies will include an address by Betsy Hodges, mayor of Minneapolis, and featured performances.
  • Play Day Saturday, July 19:
    This day is all about empowering the community to be active both mentally and physically. Attendees start the day with hundreds of others by doing yoga on the open plaza. Throughout the day there will be other mind/body programs like meditation, electronic hopscotch, speed chess, scrabble and more. The day will end with a stage of performances from competitive rap to write fights to dueling banjos.
  • Discovery Day Saturday, Aug. 16:
    The Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza is a space for participation and social interactions. It is also a portal for discovery of other cultural, natural and retail wonders of the city. This Discovery Day will feature a city-wide mystery game which anyone can solve by discovering hidden treasures in the city. In addition, booths and projects from local schools and organizations will explore everything from big data to hands on environmental science activities.
  • Maker Day Saturday, Sept. 13:
    The Do It Yourself (DIY) community in Minneapolis Saint Paul is a strong part of a national and international movement to making things from yarn bombing to robots. Our Maker Day will invite Twin Cities makers such as the Hack Factorys Trebuchet and Wil Natzels cardboard wizardry (as featured on TPTs mnoriginals) to come out and interact with the community, sharing their exciting and original ways of thinking. The Maker Day will include innovative and creative home brew projects from the technologically sophisticated to traditional crafts to food and beverages.


More information about the events is at


Background information on the Creative City Challenge


The Creative City Challenge (CCC) is a competition for Minnesota-resident architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, artists, students and individuals of all backgrounds to create and install at the MCC Plaza a temporary, destination artwork. The artwork acts as a sociable and participatory platform for summer-long onsite programming, and encourages a sense of connectedness to the city as a whole and its rich cultural and natural offerings. The MCC Plaza is a green roof that is located directly across from the MCC at 1301 Second Avenue South.


The CCCs goal is to draw visitors and residents of the city to the Minneapolis Convention Center as a central meeting space for the surrounding area, as well as to provide a compelling gathering site for the MCCs thousands of visitors. The commission fee for the selected project is $75,000, inclusive of all artist fees, installation and de-installation costs. The winning project will remain on the MCC Plaza throughout the summer and be the site of several public events to be announced at a later date. The MCC is a site of convergence for visitors to Minneapolis from around the country and the world, as well as being a part of the local neighborhood, and Minneapolis downtown.


A jury selected three projects for this voting phase of the competition from among the entries received in the fall of 2013. The three finalists and their corresponding projects incorporate a wide range of art, mixed media and architectural design. The other two finalists and their corresponding projects were:


  • Chrysalis by Wil Natzel & Jerry Natzel: An assemblage of deployable elements including a series of entry archways where the lighting reacts to peoples movements, a communal seating court and a tower pavilion through which the public will be guided. Once inside the pavilion, the public will experience an overhead explosion of baroque pattern, light and decoration, which will transform each month to display different exotic designs and configuration.


  • SPark by Will Peterson, Bill Ferenc, Melissa Gagner & Trygve Nordberg: A colony of autonomous, self-moving flowers in which visitors are welcomed and encouraged to walk among to experience these human-sized components. SPark responds to visitors through movement and light, and each sculptural flower is a self-governed entity, linked to the other flowers by a wireless network. Through different interactions, visitors will be able to make SPark come to life: it can move, pulse and even breathe.


In its inaugural year, the Creative City Challenge selected the Minneapolis Interactive Macro Mood Installation (MIMMI) as the winner, which was installed on the MCC Plaza from June through October 2013. The 2014 Creative City Challenge is an expansion and refinement of the 2013 program. Further information about the competition, finalists projects and last years winning project, MIMMI, can be found here:



Balancing Ground rendering, courtesy of Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites and Sara West.



The Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) is the largest indoor, contiguous, convention center in the Upper Midwest with over 1.5 million visitors annually, including 250,000 during the summer months. The MCC is more than a meeting place. It's more than a show space. It's a building all about building something elserelationships. A blend of form and function, the MCC provides aesthetically pleasing and innovative solutions for a variety of conferences, trade shows and events. With nearly 480,000 square feet of trade show space, 87 column-free conference meeting rooms, a 28,000-square-foot ballroom, and an auditorium with superb production and flexible technology options, the facility can handle any event from a small meeting to a large convention or trade show.



The Arts, Culture and Creative Economy program is an initiative of the City Coordinator's office established August 2011 to leverage the creative sector towards strengthening social and economic growth in the City of Minneapolis. The goals of the program are to: promote and coordinate City resources to develop the arts as an economic generator in alignment the City Goal "art and artists are economic drivers in and of themselves, to stimulate cross-sector collaboration to strengthen the arts economy and community in Minneapolis and provide presence and visibility for the creative sector in the City of Minneapolis.



Northern Spark is produced by Northern, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to artists working innovatively in the public sphere, exploring expanded possibilities for civic engagement and encourage pluralistic community. This years festival begins at 9:01 p.m. on June 14 in Minneapolis.



Meet Minneapolis is a private, not-for-profit, member-based association. It actively promotes and sells the Minneapolis area as a destination for conventions and meetings, works to maximize the visitor experience and markets the city as a desirable tourist destination to maximize the economic benefit of the greater Minneapolis area.


Meet Minneapolis is accredited by the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) of the Destination Marketing Association International.


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Kristen Montag, media communication manager, 612.767.8038,, Minneapolis_PR on Twitter.