Saving Minnesota 10 Buildings at a Time Experience: An Architecture Workshop, PT 2

Otto the Otter

If you missed Part 1, click here.

-Last Stop-

Of course we could not leave Fergus Falls without a visit to the most popular destination, Otto the Otter.


After our research, visit to the Treatment Center, and project underway, we were able to go to a meeting put on by the City of Fergus Falls for the potential developers. This was helpful in more way than one. Listening to the presentation given by the city officials was beneficial because they are the ones who know the building and its history the best, therefore, we were able to gain more insight about not only the history of the building but input from the community. From this we were able to establish our reuse ideas to a plan that we thought fit the needs of the site and the city the best. During the meeting we were able to meet with the possible developers, people from the State Historic Preservation Office, and other Kirkbride supporters and people interested in the project possibilities. Through this meeting we were able to tell the developers, city personnel, and others about our design forum presentation and give them an invite to the occasion. We were also able to get contact information to send them our project. This was the most memorable part of the meeting experience because professional developers were interested in our ideas about our research and reuse ideas. Although this did not mean that our ideas would be used, it provided an opportunity for our ideas to spark the minds of others to come up with the best possible design solution.


Our class had the pleasure of being asked to present each of our individual projects for a forum hosted by Preservation Alliance Minnesota and Target. Three prizes were awarded at the event including; best reuse plan, most creative reuse plan and best reuse plan The fourth award would be an online public vote that would take place the week following the Forum. Although our project on Regional Treatment Center did not receive any awards the night of the event, the two of us were ecstatic after being approached by a developer after the presentation that we had briefly been introduced to at the meeting with The Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Center. The developer, who previously had not seen the project, was impressed with our presentation and ideas for the Regional Treatment Center, in fact he asked for a copy of the project to help him along with his own reuse plan due in early February. The week following the Forum was a mystery as to who would win the final prize, as all projects well deserved. Halfway through the week, our project was tailing behind another group by the slightest margin. Gene and Maxine Schmidt, the couple that leads “Friends of the Kirkbride” were the first the rally the troops, posting links to voting site and posting comments on socials media explaining our project and excitement towards saving the Regional Treatment Center. When the final results were released, we were over joyed that we had won with 33% of the Public Vote. The whole process was educational, challenging, and rewarding. We both hope that the building and site of the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center is ‘saved’ from demolition and provides many more years of economic stimulation and remains as a landmark of pride for the city.

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