As the birthplace of the Minneapolis Sound, North Minneapolis has a rich musical and cultural legacy. Partnering with First Avenue, SHoP Architects has designed the Upper Harbor Terminal Community Performing Arts Center (CPAC) as a space that intends to amplify and extend that tradition. The site will serve the North Minneapolis community year-round as an epicenter for live music and entertainment that reverts entirely to open, unobstructed parkland when not in use as lawn seating for events.
Located about two miles north of Downtown between the Lowry Avenue and Camden bridges, the Upper Harbor Terminal site is the largest remaining single-owner development opportunity along the Mississippi River. Initial plans call for transforming this former barge shipping terminal into space for private and public uses, including a riverfront green space and a Community Performing Arts Center.
SHoP's plan locates the majority of the CPAC’s 6,000 fixed seats in a raised steel structure, "the Gantry", spanning a small part of the new 2.3-acre green space. This element pays homage to the existing industrial artifacts found on the site while creating a distinct landmark for the new Upper Harbor Terminal development on the Mississippi riverfront, with views and access to the water. Lifting the fixed seating also allows for a larger, more continuous park for the community. The geometry and proportions of the Gantry are optimized to ensure clear views of the stage from the lawn, while at the same time creating a more intimate space for performance that is in keeping with the spirit of First Avenue, which will operate the new venue. The stage itself can be enclosed and transformed into a smaller performance space during the cold-weather months and the CPAC can be scaled to a full 10,000 capacity venue as needed.
“We have the opportunity here and now to create the first amphitheater within the Minneapolis city-limits, but UHT offers so much more than just an amphitheater. The Community Performing Arts Center offers a space for diverse entertainment and programming, while also creating green space and riverfront access the majority of the year. A world-class city like Minneapolis deserves a world-class outdoor concert venue. We could not be more excited to be involved in the development of the UHT,” said First Avenue owner Dayna Frank.
The CPAC was designed with current North Minneapolis residents in mind, and the development has shifted in direct response to their feedback. Programming of the CPAC includes curation from long-standing North Minneapolis non-profits. In addition, every ticket sold includes a fee supporting free public programming at the Upper Harbor Terminal. The design of the CPAC is open and accessible, allowing for public access on non-ticketed show days.
More than an outdoor concert space, the CPAC is an economic engine for cultural arts organizations, Northside youth, and entrepreneurs. A Youth Advisory Council (YAC) will advise on public usage of the UHT, developing youth as they become decision-makers and community leaders. Through the Step Up program, entry-level positions will be filled with zip-code prioritized youth hiring; positions teaching valuable and marketable skills for careers in the arts, event planning, and project management fields.
“Minneapolis and First Avenue have a long history of creative transformation and a rich legacy of music and culture. We are thrilled to be working together to expand upon this tradition. In designing the UHT Community Performing Arts Center, we were inspired by what makes First Avenue one of the country’s most intimate and special music venues, focusing on the idea of creating an inclusive venue where everyone feels like a VIP, while also allowing for a larger, open park and green space open year-round for North Minneapolis and surrounding communities to enjoy,” said Gregg Pasquarelli, a founding partner of SHoP Architects.
A development team including United Properties, THOR Companies, and First Avenue Productions helped draft the proposal. That team was selected by the City, which currently owns the Upper Harbor Terminal site, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which will oversee the future park. Comments from community meetings are used to determine whether the draft plan provides a basic framework that, with additional community input, could be refined into a concept plan that the City, the Park Board and development team could all support.
The full presentation is posted on the project website.
For questions, inquiries, or hi-res images contact:
Ashley Ryan, Marketing Director First Avenue Productions
612-338-8388 | email@example.com