Friday, January 22, 2010

In Plain Sight | The Awkward Tower

Not everyone is cool. Of the three unused water towers in Minneapolis—Kenwood, Washburn, and Prospect Park—Kenwood is clearly the nerd.

While each of the towers have fascinating stories (maybe for another time), it is only the 1910 Kenwood tower that appears to be set up for ridicule. As a 100-foot tall octagon, it has the burden of being the tallest and oddest structure in one of the city's most particular neighborhoods. Like an awkward medieval giant trying to blend in at the country club, the Kenwood tower is sandwiched between two luxury homes and it has no surrounding park (like the Witches Hat) or cul de sac privacy (like the Washburn Tower) to buffer it from the curious onlookers.

The Kenwood water tower isn't friends with any master architect and it doesn't dress in any recognizable style, which made it prime picking for developers trying to take advantage of its lucky location. Incredibly, they attempted to force a condominium makeover in the 1970s—a fight which, fortunately, brought sympathetic preservationists to the tower's defense and eventually achieved local historic designation in 1980.

Currently home to telecommunications antennae and civil defense equipment, the Kenwood water tower proves that your cool older brother can stop the bullies from picking on you, but you'll still be wearing that pocket protector.

A historic view from the top. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.


Colin Oglesbay, A-AIA said...

Hey, That's my future home you're talking about. I love that building!

Brandon Stengel, Associate AIA, LEED AP said...

It's a cool structure, just the unluckiest of the three. And I have to admit, I'd love to see the plans which proposed converting it into condominiums!