Minneapolis College of Art & Design launches itself toward a ‘campus of the future’

Minneapolis College of Art and Design will join with the award-winning MASS Design Group to create a “campus of the future,” with an expanded student body (from 800 to 1,000), a culture of empathy and inclusion, innovative curricula and a collaborative community.

“Architecture is never neutral — it either hurts or heals,” said Joseph Kunkel (Northern Cheyenne Nation), who works with MASS Design Group, and is the lead on the new master plan design for MCAD.

The Boston-based MASS Design Group, a nonprofit interdisciplinary collective, was recently named Architecture Firm of the Year by the American Institute of Architects. It is known for its commitment to systemic change within the built environment, which goes beyond the surface.

The firm is best known for its work on memorials, such as the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. and the Pulse Memorial in Orlando, Fla., and for projects that serve the needs of communities typically unable to afford beautiful architecture. MASS has done on various projects in Rwanda, working directly with and directly employing local workers, as well as Sudan, Tanzania, Haiti, Vietnam, and stateside in Texas, Louisiana, Boston, and Cleveland, to name a few.

Kunkel is the director of MASS’s Sustainable Native Communities Design Lab in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and his research has helped create best practices within Indian Country, including affordable tribal housing developments. In 2019, he won an Obama Fellowship for his work with Indigenous communities.

MASS will collaborate with a team that includes North Side nonprofit Juxtaposition Arts on community engagement, New York-based company brightspot on academic planning, Minneapolis-based design firm Cuningham on city approvals and engagement, and Minneapolis firm Ten X Ten on landscape architecture.

MCAD and MASS are working under the concept of “liberatory design,” an approach that addresses equity challenges and works to change complex systems. They aim to build a framework that brings together experimental landscapes, transformational environments, interconnectivity, a campus of well-being, and radical accessibility.

MCAD President Sanjit Sethi said the college already has acquired two properties for additional student housing, and should have more news to share this summer.

Anita Shire

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