When Frank Gehry's Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum debuted in Minneapolis in 1993, it promised a bold new architectural era for the city, but for years the Weisman had no competitors. Now, at last, Minneapolis is going through that long-awaited boom. The renowned Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron added a dazzling new wing to the Walker Art Center last year. Cesar Pelli's soaring, angular Minneapolis Central Library opened in May. Michael Graves created a major expansion for the Children's Theatre Company last fall; his wing for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts follows this month. And this summer will see the unveiling of the city's most audacious new building: the Guthrie Theater, the first completed American commission for French maverick Jean Nouvel. Big bucks—more than $450 million in public and private contributions—may have been what lured all these stars to the city. Or perhaps it was the opportunity to make their mark on an already progressive urban landscape. Whatever the reason, the new buildings have suddenly made the home of Target, Betty Crocker and the Bundt pan the architectural destination of the moment. And thanks to a new class of up-and-coming chefs—and a serious foray into food by both the Guthrie and the Walker—the city's restaurant scene is now just as thrilling as its architecture.
Herzog & De Meuron's Walker Art Center
The most hotly debated aspect of the Walker Art Center campus is no longer Spoonbridge and Cherry, the 3 1/2-ton fountain sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen that's shaped like a spoon with a cherry on top. It's now the Walker itself—specifically, the museum's expansion, designed by Herzog & De Meuron, the firm behind London's Tate Modern and San Francisco's M.H. de Young Memorial Museum. This abstract cube-shaped structure in a steel-mesh skin includes an incredible new theater. When the sky is a brilliant blue, the building shimmers like a block of ice; on an overcast afternoon, it seems to merge with the clouds. The design may have some locals muttering, "That's different" (Minnesota-speak for "I don't like it"), but the Walker's new Wolfgang Puck restaurant, 20.21, has been a huge hit with both Minnesotans and tourists. Here, chef Scott Irestone is serving his boss's Cal-Asian trademarks—curried lobster with crispy fried spinach, smoked salmon on sweet corn blinis. There's even an homage to Spoonbridge, in the form of a chocolate cake. 1750 Hennepin Ave.; 612-375-7600.