Eric Mueller (@ericmueller) continues to share his unique perspective of Minneapolis, drawing particular attention to the city’s distinctive architecture. Check it out!
Between the largest US metropolitan areas, Minneapolis can sometimes get lost. What unique or standout quality do you think Minneapolis brings to the table — architecturally or otherwise?
Minneapolis doesn’t have the rich architectural history of cities like Chicago or New York; our buildings tend to be more modest, with a few gems here and there. But the thing that makes us unique is our history as a milling town, which you can see in the Mills District and also in the concrete grain silos that dot the city. Along the river and railroad tracks, you’ll come across groups of these vertical cylinders which were once used to store grain but are now mostly empty. In a city which has a tendency to be looking toward the future, I like these silos because they stand as silent reminders of our past.
You seem to be drawn to Minneapolis’ unique, often symmetrical, architecture. Are there particular neighborhoods in which this architectural symmetry is most salient?
In the downtown core, we have Skyways, which are 2nd-floor corridors that connect buildings. It’s very convenient in the winter because you can walk almost anywhere without going outside. I love shooting in the Skyways because you can get symmetrical perspective shots and also include a person if you like.
What building(s) are your favorite in terms of their architectural structure?
I tend to shoot buildings that have very clean lines, like the IDS and the Hennepin County Government Center. I’m also obsessed with a residential building by James Dayton called Bookmen Stacks because it has a beautiful sign with the word STACKS that casts shadows across the facade in the afternoon. I also like to shoot in structures that aren’t normally considered beautiful, like parking ramps. I love their raw concrete and their graphic nature.
Have you ventured inside of some of those and noticed if their inner design is also particularly unique?
The interior of the IDS, by Philip Johnson, is a gorgeous public space that is also beautiful to photograph. The atrium is called the Crystal Court, and it’s at the heart of downtown so nearly everyone passes through it. Also, there’s a building on the U of M campus, the Science Teaching and Student Services building, that’s nothing special on the outside, but it has a gorgeous spiral staircase on the inside. The first time I saw it, I gasped. I shoot there a lot.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have been dubbed the Twin Cities. How do they pair and how do they differ?
Minneapolis has a history of razing its old buildings whereas St. Paul tends to respect history a bit more and keep theirs. So Minneapolis has more glassy, modern buildings than our neighbor to the east. I like being in both kinds of buildings, but I definitely prefer to photograph the modern.