Building Midway

Midway Contemporary Art’s permanent home will become a landmark building situated on the Mississippi River in the NE Minneapolis Arts District designed by internationally renowned architects — their first project in the United States.

As an architectural destination, along with offering programming that is free to all, Midway will contribute to the cultural and economic growth in our community by drawing local, national, and international visitors.

Why now?

After two decades of renting space in Minneapolis, we had the opportunity in November 2021 to purchase a former industrial building at 1509 NE Marshall Street by the Mississippi River. Midway’s staff and board members, many of whom have been with the organization for over a decade, felt it was time to permanently establish Midway as a cultural cornerstone within the Twin Cities community.

Originally a machine shop, and then the home of Golden Fleet Limousine, the building was strong structurally, although would need modification due to 8 ft ceiling heights throughout. Following the acquisition in the fall of 2021, we began conversations with the Berlin-based architectural firm (b+) started by Arno Brandlhuber. Midway will be their first United States commission.

Axonometric drawing of original building ©

b+ is a small collaborative firm of architects, including Arno Brandlhuber, Olaf Grawert, Jonas Janke, Roberta Jurčić, and Jolene Lee (formerly). Their attention to the adaptive transformation of existing buildings, process informed decision making, incorporation of legislation, and thinking around economic and ecological impact made b+ an ideal partner for Midway to realize its permanent home in Minneapolis.

Follow our progress @midwayart

0240 MCAG: Midway Contemporary Art Garage (b+) is a collaborative architecture practice that operates at the intersection of theory and praxis, and across different media and formats. The practice seeks to engage with the contemporary challenges of our time, particularly those related to social-ecological transformation and adaptive reuse of existing buildings, with ecologically and economically viable answers.

b+ understands architecture as an open process, and views buildings as part of larger systems that require a systemic approach. The practice sees the given framework of existing buildings and legislation as an active design tool that carries the potential for transformation within. Thus, b+ celebrates the potential of the existing built environment, and aims to reveal and activate the latent potentials that lie within.

b+ draws on a collaborative model, which emphasizes the idea of working with different actors and stakeholders in the development of projects. The practice values their knowledge and expertise and aims to create spaces for exchange and collaboration. b+ seeks to advance a new value system in architecture, one that places greater emphasis on collective responsibility, systemic thinking, and ecologically and economically viable solutions.

0240 MCAG Team: Nina Barać, Arno Brandlhuber, Felix Ganzer, Olaf Grawert, Luke Handon, Jonas Janke, Roberta Jurčić, Jolene Lee, Lukas Meyer

Watch Into the Mind: Arno Brandlhuber

Phase 1

Renovation of Existing Building (2023–2024)

Phase 1 renovations of the existing building began in January of 2023. After structural reinforcement below grade was complete, a section of prestressed concrete panels were removed to open up a 16′ double height gallery space. The building was converted to 100% electric and an in-floor radiant heat system was installed. Recycled glass sub floor insulation, hempwool wall insulation, and new triple-pane windows were used to create an energy efficient envelope.

Phase 1 rendering © Atelier Tata

The finished space will include a large gallery, along with two smaller adjacent gallery spaces. A workshop for Midway’s staff and artists will be housed in the back of the building and an office space sits on the mezzanine level facing Marshall Street. Midway will present its inaugural exhibition featuring new work by New York-based artist KRM Mooney opening on August 1, 2024.

Interior gallery rendering © Atelier Tata


Our friends at b+ turned us on to some thoughtfully designed fixtures and environmentally sustainable building materials:

Herberts Mom is a light fixture designed and made by Reidar Mester, who works in the ground level studio of the b+ offices at St. Lichtenberg in Berlin.

Herberts Mom light fixture designed by Reidar Mester

Laufen, a Swiss fixture design company, graciously donated toilets and sinks (in matte grey no less), as well as faucets, for Midway’s new bathrooms.

Kartell • Laufen bathroom fixture collab

Glavel is a recycled glass product that began being produced in the US only recently in Burlington, Vermont. Used as a sub-floor insulation it offers a sustainable alternative to rigid pink foam. Due to its light weight (think pumice) it can also be used as a rooftop insulation.

Hempitecture’s hempwool batting insulation is a carbon sequestering alternative to fiber glass wall insulation. If it happens to get wet, it retains its R-value unlike its fiber glass counterpart. It is also much kinder to the skin during installation.

Phase 2

Education Wing Expansion (projected 2025-2026)

In 2025 Midway will expand the building by constructing a new, fully ADA-accessible 6,000 sq ft addition to house our public contemporary art research library and education programs. Its design will be a ‘copy and paste’ of the existing building and will be constructed entirely of renewable and green materials, including locally-sourced timber.

Phase 2 rendering © Atelier Tata

The new expansion will create a permanent home for our rapidly growing 12,000+ volume art library and provide dedicated space for school groups and our public educational programs. It will include an a/v-equipped classroom space for groups to use while visiting the library, private study areas, and a mezzanine reading loft, offering multiple ways to engage with the collection. The building will also include a rooftop terrace and garden and retain ample parking for visitors.

Axonometric drawing of Phase 2 ©

With an eye toward sustainability and efficiency, the combined project including Phase 1 and 2 will offer case study in green building practices:

• Re-use of an existing structure
• 100% electric conversion
• Energy efficient electric radiant floor heat
• Triple pane windows
• Recycled glass sub-floor insulation
• Carbon sequestering hemp wall insulation
• Recycled wood and mass timber technology
• Storm-water management

Midway is grateful for support from the Helen Frankenthaler Climate Initiative, the City of Minneapolis Green Cost Share program, the USDA Forestry Service, and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to pursue forward-thinking building materials and practices.

Axonometric drawing of Phase 2 ©

Guiding Principles

The acquisition of land and a building requires careful consideration of our organization’s needs, skills and history along with the environmental, social and historical realities of the 21st century.

1. We acknowledge and honor the history of this land and the people whose homeland this is. This property is near Wakpá Thánka (the Mississippi River). Mni Sota Makoce (Minnesota) is the homeland of the Dakota people and more recently the Anishinaabe and other Indigenous peoples. This property is within the river’s watershed and we are seeking to create an environmentally responsible and low impact structure(s) with native landscaping to provide appropriate water management, good land stewardship and respect for the environment.

2. Our programming and mission will guide the overall plan. We are designing an economical facility that will not significantly increase our annual operating budget and will be scaled appropriately for our artists and audience.

3. We are a public facing institution and are seeking to create a welcoming and accessible space for our existing and future audience.

Project Partners

b+ (Design Architect)
Snow Kreilich Architects (Architect of Record)
Meyer Borgman Johnson (Structural Engineering)
Emanuelson-Podas, Inc. (Mechanical Engineering)
Aloha Landscaping

Special Thanks

We would like to extend a very special thanks to the following individuals for their help building Midway (literally):

Phil Docken
Matt Friesen
Jay Heikes
Tim Ittner
Rio Gordon
Justin Schlepp
Emmy Smith
Aaron Van Dyke

And to the following volunteers:

Mike Curran
Josh Fredrickson
Christopher Herman
Fabian Marx
Jim McCready
Michelle Turner

Project Support

We are grateful to the following for their support for Building Midway:

Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Climate Initiative
City of Minneapolis Green Cost Share
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization
USDA Forestry Service Wood Innovations

Aloha Landscaping
Laufen • Kartell
Snow Kreilich Architects
WD Flooring

Building Midway is also made possible through the support of many generous individual donors whose friendship and trust in our vision is indispensable.

Historical Postcard

1509 NE Marshall Street, Minneapolis (2003)
Seeing Double? ©