Ridgedale Commons, Minnetonka, MN03-28-24 | News

Ridgedale Commons, Minnetonka, MN

Submission by Damon Farber
by Staff

The Parks Issue of Landscape Architect and Specifier News saw many firms submit their projects for feature consideration. This project was not chosen for a Feature in the issue, but we at thought the project deserved to be showcased online . . .

Ridgedale Commons - a new two-acre park - is part of a larger, long-term vision to transform this part of Minnetonka, Minnesota into a mixed-use community with higher-density housing and bike and pedestrian-friendly amenities. This area has been anchored by a suburban shopping mall since the early 1970's, and the park site was previously privately-owned land, providing an over-supply of surface parking to the mall. The city recognized the need to reinvest in this area of the community which serves as an economic engine.

The city's public investment in the land and park development has had an outsized community development impact. It quickly became a cherished community space for weekly farmers markets, summer concerts, casual informal gatherings, and other events. Public investment has led to further private investment and enjoyment of the neighborhood - achieving the goal of transforming and modernizing the classic suburban shopping mall.


The design team and client collaboratively developed a program for the park that included a plaza space for summer events - convertible to a winter skating rink, a flexible lawn, lush gardens, forest lounge, interactive and artistic water feature, stormwater rivulet, and supportive community building. Damon Farber Landscape Architects led the team of consultants to deliver on this community's long-term vision.

The designers paid thoughtful attention to creating a strong sense of place and identity. Public art installations and design elements draw from the area's history, weaving the past into the present. The "Lake Effect" interactive water feature at Ridgedale Commons is an excellent example of public art grounded in place, providing visitors with an interpretive connection to the natural and built environment. A carefully choreographed design was engineered to sustainably manage water use + reuse and provide regular intervals of water play each day.

The densely planted perimeter with native species creates a buffer from the surrounding roads and parking while affording ever-increasing shade and assisting with greater stormwater infiltration. The project minimized its environmental footprint further by using locally sourced Minnesota granite, sustainably sourced modified wood for its combination of durability, stability, and longevity, and capturing and reusing the water feature runoff each day for landscape irrigation. Rain gardens and biofiltration systems help manage stormwater and protect nearby imperiled bodies of water.

The interpretive fountain honors our natural resources through art replicating place. Regionally harvested Cold Spring granite was carved to replicate portions of the community and key natural resources including Lake Minnetonka and its outflow through locally protected wetlands into Minnehaha Creek. Identified in the carvings are the headwaters of Minnehaha Creek. The carvings - artfully 'set in stone' - and celebrate the importance these natural resources play within the local community and beyond. By utilizing design elements that reflect the local culture, Ridgedale Commons pays homage to its roots and gives residents a deep connection to their environment.

This visionary project represents a blend of art and science, seamlessly weaving urban development with green spaces to foster a harmonious environment and is a testament to long-term planning and creative execution to improve communities.

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