WHAT IS A PORTAL?
What is a portal? For some, the definition signals a physical, human-sized opening between space and time; an opening that may invoke a scene from a science fiction movie. For others, a portal is less tangible. For us, the definition is conceptual and works at multiple scales. Defined, a portal is simply an opening, a gateway, or a transition. The Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) is a portal into the city. At a large scale, the MCC serves as a transition for visitors from the state, nation, and world to enter into Minneapolis. At a building scale, the MCC plaza acts as a critical portal for transitioning from the spaces of the MCC into the city. How then, does one strengthen this portal so that it portrays Minneapolis as an eco-friendly city that is rooted in nature and healthy activity?
HOW DOES ONE STRENGTHEN THE PORTAL?
In recent years, rock climbing has sprung as an eco-friendly, healthy activity, which allows the citizens of Minneapolis to explore their natural and physical settings. It is an activity dependent on a specialized rope, which is elastic, dynamic, and designed to absorb the energy of a person in free fall while avoiding physical injury. Made from nylon, this dynamic rope exemplifies an evolution of rope-making. From the stiff, plant-based fibers of prehistoric times, the rope evolved across time and cultures into the synthetic, two part elastic nylon rope we are familiar with today. It remains a recognizable symbol of human achievement for all cultures. However, because of its elasticity, these climbing ropes only last for a short time and must be checked constantly for dead spots. If a dead spot is detected, the rope must be retired. As a result, a large amount of retired ropes make their way into the waste system. The intent of MPLS Rope densCITY is to reuse these retired ropes within the context of the city in order to create an eco-focused portal that upholds Minneapolis as an active, healthy city.
HOW DOES ONE EMPHASIZE THE PORTAL?
Through our analysis, we have found that visitors enter the site as pedestrians walking from the city or from the parking ramp that is nestled under the plaza. Rows of trees create finite boundaries that separate the plaza into oddly shaped spaces. These boundaries render several of these spaces in the plaza unusable. MPLS Rope densCity proposes to bridge one of these boundaries and spaces with a temporary, pivoting, lightweight structure that is skinned with a density of climbing ropes. As the ropes progress across the boundary, the colors of the ropes shift to reflect the site. Furthermore, the pivoting of the structure and “changing of the ropes” at scheduled times throughout the summer allow for a dynamic shift in the spaces of the site. Hence, the ropes serve as the primary portal for bridging the city with the site, the site with the structure, and the structure with people. The rope wraps various elements of the city, the rope anchors into the site, the rope hangs from the structure, and finally the rope swings as people interact with it. By building a density of roped spaces, the portal becomes a temporary city that engages the site, people, and materials into eco-focused interactivity.