Minnesota Design Center (MDC)

The Minnesota Design Center (MDC) engages in system design in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. We seek innovative solutions to the design of physical systems such as infrastructure and open space as well as non-physical systems such as public health or service delivery, helping our region seize the opportunities that lie in the social, technological, environmental, and economic disruptions of our time.

Post-Pandemic Futures

The Minnesota Design Center has led a year-long effort, with funding from the McKnight Foundation, to look at the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on how many people will be living, working, shopping, learning, and traveling in the future. We hosted a series of community workshops in Fall 2020 that focused on an 11-mile corridor running from downtown St. Paul west through Minneapolis to St. Louis Park and that addressed six commercial and residential nodes along that length. A team of students and MDC staff have prepared a publication based on the workshops, and MDC Director Tom Fisher, is writing a book on this topic, published by Routledge. That work is part of a larger set of pandemic-related analyses including a college-wide webinar series, a summer class, a podcast series, and a blog.

Future Streets

The Minnesota Design Center has completed a three-year research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, that looks at the impact of shared, autonomous vehicles on our streets and public realm. This work will culminate in a publication called Future Streets that will summarize this work and make it publicly available. MDC staff presented a summary of some of the work at the Great Northern Festival and at the Center for Transportation Studies research conference, and we continue to be involved in implementation efforts underway in Minnesota related to autonomous shuttles and smart city technology.

Campus with the Minneapolis skyline in the background
Transit Impacts

The Minnesota Design Center has finished a year-long Transit Impact Research Program (TIRP) project, funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Hennepin County,  in partnership with the Accessibility Observatory at the Center for Transportation Studies. We developed community engagement digital tools related to bus-rapid-transit lines planned in Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington Counties, including mapping, visualization, and evaluation tools as well a set of urban design and transportation flash cards. We will be implementing and refining those tools, apply these tools on actual transportation projects, as part of a three-year project with 4RM+ULA architects and MSRP students.

Explore Our Projects

The MDC collaborates across disciplines through academic and industry partnerships to address system design issues in Minnesota. 

George Floyd Tragedy Calls for Systems Re-Design

The Minnesota Design Center wishes to express our condolences to the family, friends, and community of George Floyd and is committed to support systemic change toward a more just world. While the George Floyd murder was a failure of humanity, empathy, and integrity on the part of the individuals involved, it also represented a failure of the system. Our center denounces the excessive use of police force against communities of color in our city, Minneapolis, and in cities across the U.S. As designers, we are often partners in systems re-design, and the Minnesota Design Center stands ready to offer our assistance to those working for systemic change.

Crowd at a Black Lives Matter rally