Walker Art Center, Wurtele Upper Gardens

Art In The Garden

Working in concert with the Amsterdam-based, design firm Inside|Outside and HGA’s design architect Joan Soranno, FAIA, HGA’s landscape architects developed a new campus expression and building addition which has led to the creation of a more visitor-friendly and welcoming entry experience.

The updated Upper Garden is comprised of twelve varying plant material volumes, that are arranged across the canvas of the 6.5-acre southern portion of the campus. These volumes are expressed by masses of shrubs, ornamental grasses, formal geometric bosques of trees or a crisp, faceted plane of lawn holding a beautiful sculpture. The majestic bosque of Autumn Blaze Maples comprised by Volume 7, is situated in the garden on a 14-foot artificial earthen mound, created by geofoam over the parking garage below. This new landform offers wondrous views to the Minneapolis downtown skyline and provides the seating for events such as the annual fundraiser, Rock the Garden. A sinuous, zigzagging accessible walk of raked black concrete allows visitors to wander through the garden volumes appreciating the plants and art while enjoying views to the newly completed sculpture garden and surrounding city.

The project is the re-imagination of the museum’s Upper Garden; providing flexible, impromptu programming to accommodate large-scale public events. The design reinforces the Walker’s status as an artistic, social, and virtual hub and serves as a national model of civic engagement through the integration of the landscape with the built environment.


Minneapolis, MN

Building Type

Art Museum


6 acres

  • 2018 ASLA Honor Award
  • 2018 ASLA Minnesota Award of Excellence
  • 2017 AIA Minnesota Honor Award

Download Project