The best and worst architecture in Minnesota?


The Twin Cities gets a little architectural love today with MSN including the Weisman Museum in its slideshow of the “world’s wildest architecture.” (Hat tip: Tom Weber)

Being a contrarian, I’d like to assemble a slideshow of the worst and least imaginative of the architecture in Minnesota. Send your suggestions (and your photos) and we’ll put a little vote together to select the “winner.”

In the government buildings category, I’ll nominate St. Paul’s Centennial Building. It was completed in 1958 and named in honor of the 100th anniversary of Minnesota statehood, it says here. A commenter at the site says “this building has been misunderstood,” which is probably the kindest thing to say about it. On the other end of the spectrum is the observation that you can apparently miss a lot of classes in architecture school, and still get an occasional gig.


The Centennial Building, unfortunately, serves as a bookend to an otherwise gorgeous display of buildings on the Capitol complex. It shares the role with another hideous building, the state transportation building, which appears to be crumbling; it’s somehow metaphorically appropriate.


Use this form to send me your images.

Submissions (so far)

Block E (from Flickr):


Social sciences tower at the U of M (from Flickr). BTW, want to see something cool. Use your mouse wheel to scroll down the page while watching the windows in the social sciences tower.


Multifoods Tower, Mpls (from Flickr)


The science classrooms building at the U.


  • David Brauer

    Don’t have a photo, but someone needs to get a shot of the Social Sciences tower on the U’s West Bank.

    Also 33 S. 6th, nee Multifoods Tower, downtown Mpls.

  • bsimon

    Category: trying to hard

    Block E. Of particular note: the faux suspension bridge skyway connecting to Target Center (which itself deserves honorable mention in the hulking monolith category).

  • Hands down the ugliest building in the Twin Cities is on the U of M campus, but it isn’t the Social Sciences tower; in fact, it is across from the “wild” Weisman Museum. It is the mishapen, forever “temporary” Science Classrooms Building at the U of M.

    The most out of place building and greatest eye sore on the U of M is sitting on the corner of what may be the best view of the Twin Cities.

    Mr. Bruininks tear this building down!

  • BJ

    I’m not tech savvy enough to make this link up, but feel free to copy and paste.

  • c

    I thought that my contrast between the old skillfully bricked buildings of the warehouse district in downtown minneapolis compared to the Federal Reserve Building on Hennipen was blog worthy but apparently not.


  • Bob Collins


    there was nothing usable in the file you sent. It had no file extension. I gave it a .jpg extension and that didn’t work.

  • Nick I.

    Just got off work, too lazy to fill out official form, but if people are actually interested, I’ll go take a picture of the building and approve of it’s publishing on this blog.

    I give you: That ugly Cedar Riverside building!

    Designed in 1973 by Ralph Rapson, this ugly behemoth has repainted sides due to faded color paint, a swimming pool filled with cement, a fountain that hasn’t been on in years, all sorts of plumbing errors, and kind of a dreary feeling if you’ve ever walked around the courtyard. Even if it gains an infinite amount of “ethical” points for it’s subsidized housing for immigrants and refugees, free classes for different levels, and a community center across the street, it’s still pretty damn unappealing.

  • Minn whaler

    If you build it… They will come

  • Momkat

    I love that the Weisman is shaped inside like it is outside.

    Also that Science Classroom: being in it is even stranger–the rebar sticking out of the top of the elevator doesn’t inspire confidence.

  • How has no one mentioned the infamous “crack stacks, aka the Riverside plaza by the U of M campus for worst? I don’t think public housing could have a more obvious “you probably don’t want to live here” exterior. I never have been inside, so i don’t know what the interior design is like, but I can imagine. My second vote goes to the Social Sciences building on the U of M campus… 1st vote if its for most boring!

  • c

    Kate as nick mentioned above :

    I give you: That ugly Cedar Riverside building!


  • I know, my bad. I was just so excited to mention that when I heard Bob talking about it yesterday afternoon I just skimmed the entries. Sorry C, and Nick

  • Eric Anderson

    I add to the vote for Social Sciences Tower. As a graduate student, I always felt like a laboratory rat scurrying up and down its narrow corridors and stairways.