Opus Area Placemaking and Urban Design Implementation Plan

January 2020   Minnetonka, MN

Client

  • City of Minnetonka
  • Hennepin County

Team

  • WSB Associates

Asakura Robinson developed a Placemaking and Urban Design Implementation Guide to leverage redevelopment opportunities at an office park originally envisioned as an ecologically-oriented live-work community. The Guide includes branding and wayfinding guidance, programming suggestions, and a central plaza.

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Key Points

Placemaking strategies, ecological design and transit-oriented development guide the redevelopment of the Opus District.

Placemaking

The 640-acre site is currently home to approximately 2,000 residents and nearly 15,000 people commute into the district daily for employment (Opus is one of the densest employment clusters in Minnetonka). The branded trail network contributes to a sense of place tailored to differential evening residential needs and daytime employee desires by recommending a range of types and levels of programming, from passive to active, to truly offer something for everyone with six different trail loops. Each trail loop has its own defined character to guide activities, wayfinding, and planting palettes.

Edible Landscapes

A planting palette was developed for each branded trail loop within the trail network. Two loops, the Welcome Loop along the branded Bren Trail and the Corporate Loop along the branded Blue Trail will feature their own early and late harvest edible vegetation, such as different cherry, berry, apple, pear, and grape varieties, that may additionally be used in different recommended programming, such as a company lunch along the Blue Trail near the United Health Group and United Healthcare campuses.

Transit-Oriented Design

The highest concentration of current Opus District employees live within two miles of the Southwest LRT alignment between St. Louis Park and downtown Minneapolis. With transit service coming online in 2023, there is a huge potential for mode shift as employees trade driving alone for transit opportunities. Since all trails in the Opus network lead to the Opus LRT Station, workers may make the final leg of their commute along well maintained and programmed trails right to their office desks.


This mixed use 640-acre district has a unique history and was originally envisioned in 1970 as a planned community where workers and residents exist alongside one another in an ecologically-oriented community with an entirely separate roadway network and trail network for non-motorized users. The Opus District will receive up to 3,000 new residents with the buildout of planned mixed-used developments and opening of the Southwest LRT Green Line over the next few years.

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To leverage these redevelopment opportunities, as well as improve trail connectivity to and from the Opus LRT Station, our firm developed the Opus Placemaking + Urban Design Implementation Guide. This guide includes a branding and wayfinding strategy for the trail system that will support future programming, from passive design to community meals using edible harvests from ecologically appropriate landscaping. The guide also proposed a large central plaza near the lightrail station that incorporates a dog park, amphitheater, and space for organized events and activities.

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