A once-iconic office park in Edina offers an up-close look ... ?· an up-close look at how aesthetic…

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  • MinnPosti l lustrationbyAndySturdevant

    A once-iconic office park in Edina offersan up-close look at how aesthetic styleschangeByAndySturdevant|05/05/16

    If

    youvepaidanyattentiontolargescalerealestatedevelopmentinthepast20yearsandcomeon,ifyoureadMinnPost,theresabetterthanlikelychanceyouhaveyouvealreadyreadreamsofcopyaboutthefutureofPentagonPark,theonceiconicEdinaofficeparkatHighway100andInterstate494.

    Youveprobablyreadstatementslikethis:Ithasanexcellentlocation.Wesawanopportunitytomanageitwellandcorrectthefunctionalobsolescenceandthestylisticobsolescence.

    Thatwasadeveloperspeakingin1987,20yearsafterPentagonParkopened.Almost30yearsafterthat,andintheearlystagesofamassivenewredevelopmentofthesite,thecommentsareverbatim:greatlocation,stylisticandfunctionalobsolescence.Partofthe43acresitehasbeendemolished,andtherestawaitssignificantdevelopmentinthenearfuture.Partshavealready

    https://www.minnpost.com/https://www.minnpost.com/author/andy-sturdevanthttp://www.startribune.com/hillcrest-remakes-an-edina-office-park-for-a-new-generation/307061321/

  • beenrehabbed:newinteriors,newtenants,newsignage,afreshcoatofpaint.Thecampuswill,inyearstocome,bemostlyunrecognizable.

    WehearaboutthefutureofsiteslikePentagonParkquiteabit,andoccasionallyhearabouttheirpast.Whatwetendnottohearaboutisthepresentrealityofthesetypesofsites.WalkingaroundthePentagonParkcampustodayis,initscurrenttransitionalstate,afascinatingupcloselookathowaestheticstyleschange,howlandusevalueschange,andwhatthevisuallandscapewilllooklikewhenbuildingsconstructedinrelativelyrecentmemoryageintoobsolescence.

    Firstofall,thatname:PentagonPark.Itcouldonlyhavecomefromthe1960s,adecadepopularhistoryhasbeenmisrememberedasacounterculturalfree

    forall,butthatwasatimeofdeepconservatismformuchofthecountry,andparticularlyforthesuburbs.Thesiteopenedin1969,butthenamePentagonParkwasclearlychosenearlyinthedevelopmentprocess,datingbacktothemid1960s.Thenowdemolishedsouthernportionofthesite,whichhasbeenrebrandedasTheLink,wassomewhatpentagonshapedtheindividualpartsoftheremainingparcelsonthenorthsideareshapedmorelikeapi.Eitherway,thenameconveysauthority,strength,andtrustworthiness,valuesamainstreamAmericanmighthaveassociatedwiththePentagoninthepreGulfofTonkinera.Infact,theyearPentagonParkopenedwastheyearDanielEllsbergleakedthePentagonPapers.It'shardtothinkofanyotherinstitutioninAmericanlifethatwasinforsuchabeatinginthe1970sthanthePentagon.

    https://oasc17.247realmedia.com/RealMedia/ads/click_lx.ads/MP/stroll/2016/05/once-iconic-office-park-edina-offers-close-look-how-aesthetic-styles-change/L9/1955895451/Middle/MinnPost/friends_penpals_300S_050916/20thSeason-MinnPostAd_v2.jpg/4e62395073464f30466a6f4143705a6e?xhttp://thelinkedina.com/

  • MinnPostphotobyAndySturdevant4620,oncethehomeofG.E.ElectricMobileRadioandAutomatedSystems,Inc.

    Indeed,thebusinessdirectoryforthetenantsin1970,PentagonParksfirstfullyearofoperations,readslikethecontentsofawellbalancedstockportfolioyourfinanciallysavvyNixonvotinggreatunclemighthaveownedthatyear:GeneralElectric,GeneralMills,andGeneralMotors,alongwithothertechnology,insuranceandemploymentfirmswithnamesliketheTechanalysisCorporation,ProfessionalDataSystems,AutomatedSystemsIncorporated,TechPower,NorthwestDataIncorporated,ComputerTaxServices,anddozensmore.

    Almost50yearslater,theolderpartsofcampusarecrumblingatanalarmingrate.Metalstairwayssaganddroop,andsomeappearonthevergeofimminentcollapse.Entireswathsareencrustedwithrust.Eventhedeveloperscurrentwebsiteallowsthatthesitehaslongbeensynonymouswithblightandfailure.Buteventhroughthedecay,thatsenseofcorporatepowerstillshowsthrough.ThefrontsofPentagonParksvacantofficesretainacool,technocraticdisdainforfussyornament,sentimentandwhimsythatcantentirelybehiddenbehindafaadeofrust.Thequalitiesthatpeopleoftenhateaboutmodernistarchitecturelikethisitsspareness,itslackoforganicshapes,itsrefusaltokowtowtothestylesofthepastareexactlyitsmostattractivequalities.PullingintothemassiveparkinglotofPentagonParkin1969andwalkingupintothatfortresslikecampusmusthaveseemedlikewalkingintoabright,cleanandprogressivefuturewheretechnologyandorderhadfinallywipedawaythedirtinessanddisorderoftheearly20th

  • MinnPostphotobyAndySturdevantPentagonParktenantsaslistedintheEdinacitydirectory,1970.

    century.Compare,fromthatstateofmind,PentagonParkwiththeGatewayDistrictofdowntownMinneapolis11milesnortheast,wherethelandscapemusthaveseemedencrustedwithcancerousvernaculararchitecturalgrowthleftoverfromthe19thcentury.

    Itshardtoseethatperspectivenow,sincethelevelingoftheGatewayDistrictisnowgenerallyregardedasoneofthecitysgreataestheticcrimes.ThatswhywalkingthroughthepreredevelopmentportionsofPentagonParknowisalmostpoignantyoucanttotallywipeawaycorporatemodernismstriumphalistsmirk,butwaitaroundlongenough,andthewinnersbecomeloserseventually.PentagonParklooksnowasblownoutanddecrepitasthoseGatewayDistrictflophouseslookedin1960,thoughitsstoodonlyhalfaslongastheydid.

    Theparkinglotis,ofcourse,unfortunateinthewaymostsprawlingsurfaceparkinglotsareunfortunate.Thewholecampusisorientedaroundit,andithasadoublyghostlyquality.Halfiscompletelyabandoned,asyoumightexpectforanabandonedofficeparkthatsghostlyenough.Theotherhalf,though,ispackedbumpertobumperwithlatemodelJeeps,CadillacsandSubarus.Uponcloserinspection,theyrefromsomeofthenearbyWalserautodealerships,whichevidentlyusethepropertyforoverstock.

    TheextantPentagonParkpropertysitsonthenorthsideof77thStreet.Theeasternportionhasbeenredeveloped,andhasalargenumberoftenants,includingadaycarecenter.Thetransformationhasstartedheretheharshnessofthearchitecturehasbeensoftenedwithsomecoloraccents,andnewsignagehasbeenaddedtotheexteriors.Thewindowsareallnew,theinteriorsrenovated.

    Thewesternhalf,though,islargelyvacantforthetimebeing.Therearesignsthroughoutprovidingacrudetimelinewatershutoffnoticesfrom2012and2013.Itseemsshockingthatthebuildingswereevidentlyinhabitedsorecently.Thedecaylooksdecadesold.Itmakesyouwonder:ifyoustoppedregularmaintenanceonanycommercialproperty,woulditreallyfallapartthisquickly?Ifyourewonderingwhatthestripmallonthehighwaynearwhereyougrewupisgoingtolooklikeinanothergeneration,PentagonParkinitscurrentstateprovidesagrimpreviewofcomingattractions.

  • MinnPostphotobyAndySturdevantAghostlotfullofsoontobesoldautomobiles.

    Fortyfiveyearsisntquiteoldenoughforabuildingstyletoseemautomaticallyhistoricandcharming,butitsjustonthecusp.Fromtheperspectiveof75years,PentagonParksthinverticalfortresswindows,pebbledconcretefacades,glassblocks,andthewayitssharpanglesthrowdramatic,reiteratingpatternsofshadowacrossthefrontmightseemwonderfullyunpretentiousandidealistic.Italmostdoestoday,fromacertainperspective.

    ThefactorsthatcreatedPentagonParkinterstatesringingthecorecities,corporateflightfromthecitycenterintothesuburbs,totalautomotivereliabilityarenolongerinplayinquitethesameway.Whetherasitelikethis,sorootedinitsplaceandtime,canberehabilitatedfortheneedsanddesiresofthe21stcenturyisanyonesguess.Thedevelopersseemoptimistic,andtheirpromotionalmaterialsemphasizeproximitytoparksandbiketrails.

    IfyoureoutinEdina,takeawalkacrossthePentagonParkcampusandpokeatthoseheavyironfacadesnotmoldedconcrete,astheymightappearfromadistance,butpaintedsteel.Thistypeofdecayiscomingtothesuburbssoonerratherthanlater.Foralittlewhilelonger,untiltherehabilitationiscomplete,itsinfullbloomatPentagonPark.Asunbelievableasitseemsnow,therewillcomeatimeinthenearfuturewhennoonerememberspreciselywhata1960sofficeparklookedlikeinitsprime.

    SpecialthankstoMike,HillaryandMarin.

    http://hillcrestdevelopment.com/renovation/pentagon-park/

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    AndySturdevantAndySturdevantwritesaweeklycolumn,TheStroll,forMinnPost.TheStrolluncoversandcelebratestheart,architecture,history,andvisualcultureoftheTwinCitieswitheacharticlefocusedononegeographicarea.HaveanideaforTheStroll?EmailAndyatthestroll.mn@gmail.com.

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    https://www.minnpost.com/author/andy-sturdevanthttps://www.minnpost.com/stroll/2016/04/princes-death-several-sites-are-imbued-elevated-meaninghttps://www.minnpost.com/author/andy-sturdevanthttps://www.minnpost.com/stroll/2016/04/flying-cloud-drive-great-burgers-and-views-graffiti-underpass-and-valley-vintage-beerhttps://www.minnpost.com/author/andy-sturdevanthttps://www.minnpost.com/author/andy-sturdevantmailto:thestroll.mn@gmail.comhttps://www.minnpost.com/stroll/2016/04/princes-death-several-sites-are-imbued-elevated-meaninghttps://www.minnpost.com/stroll/2016/04/flying-cloud-drive-great-burgers-and-views-graffiti-underpass-and-valley-vintage-beer

  • MinnPost|9006thAvenueSE|Minneapolis,MN55414|612.455.6950

    COMMENTS (4)

    PentagonParkSUBMITTEDBYPATTERRYONMAY5,201610:00AM.

    Iworkedthereinatempjobforacoupleweeksintheearly 1990sandthoughtitwasantiquatedeventhen.

    BigBuzz,ItWasSUBMITTEDBYJIMMILLIONONMAY5,201610:00AM.

    Rememberitwellfromfirstv isittopickupsomethingfromabuddy 'sDad'splace.Findingtheexactlocationinacomplex ofidenticalappearancewassomewhatconfusingthen...fairly routinesince.

    Seeingthosefortresswindowsalsoremindsmeoftypicalnew1960scollegeclassroombuildings,withwhatsomepreferredtocall"concreteshutters."Idon'trecall"fortress"asdescriptor,likely becausethatwouldhavebeenjustabittoomuchformany ofusheadingforAmericanLit.classintheVNEra,evenwhenweweresometimesheldhostagewithinby acrummyprofessor.

    ThosewhoworkedsomewhereinPentagonParkmusthavesimilarflashbacks.It'swithawry smilethatonelooksbacktowhenthesewerenew.

    "Fortress"SUBMITTEDBYVIRGINIAMARTINONMAY5,201611:42AM.

    That'sexactly howIthoughtofthebuildingIworkedinwhenIworkedatUnisysyearsagoafortresswithslitwindowsmeantfortheguns(althoughIneversawany there.Probably wouldnow.

    GreatarticleSUBMITTEDBYDIANELINDGRENONMAY5,20167:28PM.

    Niceinsightintochangingsty lesinaesthetics!