City issuing RFP for public art on new Nicollet Mall

An illustration of the Light Walk on Nicollet Mall. Credit: File image

The city plans to issue a request for proposals for new public art pieces to be integrated into the new Nicollet Mall redesign.

The city is also taking stock of the 109 artworks currently on Nicollet Mall, including the Mary Tyler Moore statue and artist-designed manhole covers, to determine which pieces to keep or relocate, said Mary Altman, the city’s public arts administrator.

With the exception of the Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden, the mall boasts the city’s largest collection of public art.

The RFP is for four artist opportunities, including a $200,000 commission to lead a team of local and emerging artists to create a series of small artworks; $500,000 for a large-scale iconic piece; $225,000 to design a key feature, such as a theater in the round; and $75,000 for a curator to integrate all of the public art into the street’s new design.

The City Council’s Transportation & Public Works Committee approved the request to issue the RFP at its Tuesday meeting. The full Council will vote on it Jan. 16.

The tentative deadline for artist applications is Feb. 27 with a goal of finalizing contracts with chosen artists in May.

Noted landscape architect James Corner is leading the redesign of the mall — a $50 million project with $25 million in public funding and the remainder coming from assessments on businesses along the mall, which will be finalized in coming weeks.

The entire stretch of the mall — from Washington Avenue to Grant Street — will be redesigned to make it more pedestrian friendly, greener and animated with a variety of activities and art.

Highlights includes plans for a unique Light Walk between 6th & 8th streets featuring a trellis of tilted mirrors on the east side of the mall. During the day the mirrors will either reflect the sky or passersby along the mall depending on the direction of travel. At night the Light Walk will be illuminated with changing colors mimicking the Northern Lights.

The Nicollet Mall redesign is on track to be completed by the end of 2016.