Align new developments with Art

For many art is essential to place and identity. Art provokes conversation and social media posts. However, art for many real estate developments tends to be an afterthought. Within the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District we want to change that process and invite all developers to integrate arts in the original budgeting process. This allows designers and architects to build locations for art into the program as well as think about locally made functional art from the beginning of the development process. This early adoption can bring cost savings as it can cost more to add art at the end, to change the dynamics of the building or grounds after a project is completed.

Lisa Elias designed benches and the sign at Hook & Ladder

Reimagining the development tools and process…

There are many items in traditional buildings that can be implemented with one of a kind, artist designed pieces to create unique style and design aesthetics. Art within the public grounds and interior common areas can have profound impacts that improve the tenants’ interaction with the building as well as the community they will be living or working in. Embedding art throughout a new development doesn’t need to involve huge budgets and sometimes can even offer cost savings. Examples of typical new project items that could be artist-made are bike racks, fencing, trash receptacles, play equipment, interior and exterior furniture, interior and exterior signage, project branding incorporated into special items, one of a kind lighting, wall art, common space finishes in bathrooms and kitchen products and artist designed wall coverings to name some. All of these items are already in the budget for any new building project.

The Arts District has been contacted more in the past year than all other 20 years combined by developers asking for our input and guidance to work with the arts community. To date the Hook & Ladder, Timber & Tie, The Huxley Apartments, and other developers have corresponded with us on projects, including some that won’t or haven’t yet taken form. Until now, there has been a missing link to connect developers to the idea of using artists and their work as part of their design in their buildings.

City wide and especially within the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District 

Firehose bike racks by L. John Andrew, at Hook & Ladder


All developments can benefit from art. Within the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District we’re asking developers to devote a portion of the overall budget to art. Specifying more artistic products needs to be part of the system. Second larger scale public art sets the style, mood, and character of the building. And, public art can become a marketing asset. That can take many forms from sculpture, architectural adornments such as metal, glass,wood, tile, large exterior murals, lighting to name a few. Budgets for art should range from 1-3% at a minimum for new projects. We recognize that budgets must be utilized for basic walls, HVAC, electrical, plumbing and so forth. We see art as imperative as a philosophy of living. Developers are creating space for humans to dwell in. A simple box will not do. Those choosing to build in a city-designated art district should find it indispensable to experiment and be innovative with building design and concepts. The Arts District is an area to explore new ideas and concepts that will not break the budget and will only enhance the end product and community engagement.

Static by Aaron Dysart

The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District welcomes developers to contact us. We will help connect developers to local professional arts consultants to run an Request for Proposal process (RFP) in order to embed locally made art directly into the building development process. These art consultants meet with the developer, identify the project interests and goals and then facilitate the process of finding the artists to complete and install the artwork. By embedding art into a development project within the Arts District, the developer quickly becomes an active community member by engaging the local arts community and the development becomes a source of pride for the entire community.

We look forward to more art in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District! Reach us at

by Josh Blanc and Jennifer Young