Wednesday, May 09, 2007

May 15: Millett book on Twin Cities architecture
When I got my hands on an advance copy of the AIA Guide to the Twin Cities, I quickly opened it and began reading. As I walked from KFAI Radio, nestled in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood ("a place that did not age gracefully") to my home on Milwaukee Avenue ("a working class enclave that was striking by virtue of its architectural consistency"), I read the section on the Guthrie Theatre ("a strong design that never fails to be interesting, even when it's most irritating"). The next morning on the bus, I read author Larry Millett's description of Upper Swede Hollow Park and other mysterious St. Paul sites I've rarely -- or never -- visited. And that's the beauty of a book like this. You open it, you learn a little something, you go see for yourself what it looks like. At 666 pages (including bibliography and index) the book is thick, but it's narrow width makes it a guide. It's not designed to sit on your coffee table, but to be carried around from place to place. Millett, former architecture critic at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, spent years biking around the city, carefully documenting its landmarks and hidden gems. In my neighborhood, he found an "earth-sheltered house" at 2201-21st Avenue South. On his side of town, he opened my eyes to Mounds Park -- that picture of the prairie-style park pavilion looks pretty cool -- and the Seventh Street Improvement Arches.

The release date for the book, which is published by Minnesota Historical Society Press, is May 15. Millet will sign copies of the book at noon on May 23 at Barnes and Noble bookstore in dowtown Minneapolis; 2 p.m. on June 3 at Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church, 170 Virginia St., St. Paul; and 5-7 p.m. on June 6 at International Market Square, 275 Market St., Minneapolis. Tickets to the June 6 event are $20. The May 23 and June 3 events are free.

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