The recognizable blue tubes that once graced
in downtown Minneapolis, along the building’s exterior, are getting a new life.
The 16 tubes, which are 10 and 20 feet tall, had epitomized the building's style, which dates back to 1974, according to orchestra information. The tubes also helped with the lobby's ventilation system.
Right now, Orchestra Hall, which is home to the Minnesota Orchestra, is undergoing a $40 million expansion project for which construction will wrap up next summer. Its new look didn’t include the retro blue tubes, according to orchestra spokesperson Gwen Pappas.
This got orchestra staffers thinking about what to do with them. Since the tubes are so well known, “We thought it would be neat to find life for them outside of Orchestra Hall,” she says.
So the orchestra turned to fans on Facebook, asking for their suggestions for how to go about repurposing them. “It was a whimsical thing,” she says. “There were lots of clever answers and it started to gather steam.”
Based on that feedback, the orchestra sent out a request for proposals on possible new uses for the tubes. The orchestra planned to donate the tubes. “We were hoping to find people with creative ideas, possibly musically related,” but that wasn’t a requirement, she says. “We also wanted to see a public component and have them be spread out geographically.”
Out of a dozen submissions, the orchestra went with five that met the criteria and had practical implementation plans, she says.
The tubes, for which Mortenson Construction
covered delivery costs, landed at the Anderson Center at Tower View
, a sculpture park in Red Wing; a private home in St. Paul, where they’ll be used for a sound installation and bat house (yes, a house for bats), and Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden
Separately, sculptor Peter Morales
, who is affiliated with Franconia Sculpture Park
in Shafer, plans to fashion a three- or four-legged blue beast with some of the tubes. Franconia received another 10 of the tubes.
“It was a real connection that people felt for the tubes,” she says. “We feel really good about it.”
Source: Gwen Pappas, spokesperson, Minnesota Orchestra
Writer: Anna Pratt