Urban Flower Field is an intersection of art, science, a community and a civic process. It debuted at the site of the future Pedro Park in downtown Saint Paul in 2014. Our collaborative team has pioneered a model that transforms vacant spaces into community gathering centers by integrating scientific research into temporary public art.
Saint Paul has 5,070 acres of vacant public and private land, making it an ideal laboratory for exploring how to temporally activate urban spaces in transition. Urban Flower Field is a low-cost, short-term project that combines art and science to convert an abandoned lot into a vibrant center for learning and exchange. The location (corner of Robert and 10th streets in downtown Saint Paul) is in a dense, urban neighborhood: 6,000 people live within three blocks of the space, 4,000 people work within walking distance, and 9,900 cars drive down Robert Street daily.
The Fibonacci Sequence – the moment when science can be defined as beauty – pervades both the art and science of Urban Flower Field. A spiraling set of 96 circular flower plots holds a vast experiment that tests how wildflowers take up heavy metals from urban soils. The spiral is echoed on a 4-story mural as field backdrop to a central patio for gathering. The space is artfully programmed with films, environmental conversations, and community artmaking.
Urban Flower Field has been hailed as a leading example of temporary urban development. There is national interest in its soil remediation experiment and the soil remediation results will be published in a scientific journal. The project won a Great Places Award from the Sensible Land Use Coalition and a Blooming St. Paul award from Saint Paul Parks and Recreation.