Early design concepts were unveiled last week for the Mississippi River Learning Center proposed for Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul.
The City of St. Paul and the project’s nonprofit arm, The Great River Passage Conservancy, are asking for the community’s feedback on the three design concepts, which were detailed during a public meeting Thursday.
Feedback shared by the community will narrow the focus of project's architects and consultants, led by New York-based W Architecture & Landscape Architecture, as the team moves forward with plans to reveal a preferred design concept in late July.
The long-sought learning center will provide year-round recreational and educational programming to visitors and serve as a headquarters for the National Park Service and other environmental agencies.
The first design concept features a pedestrian bridge, connecting Shepard Road and the Sam Morgan Regional Trail to the learning center, which would be a tall, vertical building.
Once inside, stairs and an elevator would carry visitors down the bluffs to the river level, where they'd head outside and connect to the trails.
The second option calls for two buildings — one with bathrooms, agency offices and public parking at the bluff-level, and a second, the learning center, nestled down at the floodplain level.
An elevated canopy walk would connect the two buildings. The scenic walkway would lead to the roof of the second building, which the proposal says would feature a rooftop garden and cafe with educational programming housed inside.
The plans also call for a new channel to be carved out of the landscape, creating a new island with restored habitat that visitors could access by crossing a pedestrian bridge.
The third design concept also features a scenic canopy walk and the new island habitat.
However, instead of two buildings, all programming and offices would be housed under one roof.
Visitors would still park up on the bluffs and follow a longer canopy walk to the learning center.
The next community meeting regarding the plans is slated for Thursday, July 21.