VJAA - promoting tourism and vehicular safety: Goose Creek Rest Area
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promoting tourism and vehicular safety: Goose Creek Rest Area


Transport  /  Completed

The Goose Creek Safety Rest Area program along I35 is an important traffic route that intercepts automobile/truck travel, US bicycle Routes 45 and 41 and the National Wildlife Corridor System, AKA the 1,500 mile Monarch Highway that connects Minnesota to Texas. The Safety Rest Area program also promotes tourism and vehicular safety (rest and rejuvenation for drivers). As a travel route, I35 in Minnesota may have the potential to become known for its architecture and landscape features similar to public programs like the Norwegian Tourist Routes and La Ruta del Peregrino in Mexico, designed to attract visitors to remote but exceptional landscapes and roadways.

This new rest stop typology expands on an agenda for public safety and wellness. The design of the building and site is focused on leisure and play as respite from the speed and single mindedness of highway travel. The Goose Creek rest stop design is both about the efficiency of accessing basic amenities and an apparatus for slowing people down. Open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, the Goose Creek Rest Stop accommodates millions of visitors annually.

Design: The building geometry springs from a series of intersecting elliptical circulation paths drawn from the original rest stop, each one relating to the site in a different way. Structural columns define seating areas and guide movement from inside to out. An elevated walkway that circles the exterior of the building connects the two entries and provides an overlook to dramatic views of the creek. The articulated wood and steel elements create lyrical and ever-changing patterns of light and shadow on adjacent surfaces.

Materials were selected and detailed for longevity and to reduce maintenance. This includes concrete block with exterior insulation and a durable and naturally weathering wood-board cladding system. Exterior railings and canopies are Corten steel, a typical highway and bridge material used throughout the state. Interior materials use a color palette of grays and reds, familiar to anyone who has traveled Minnesota’s North Shore. Other materials include exposed concrete block, porcelain tile flooring, and an acoustic veneer micro-perforated wood ceiling--a Minnesota-made product.

Program and Budget: Designed for the Minnesota Department of Transportation as a public project with a modest budget, the project included the construction of the main rest area building that doubled the original program, an ancillary storage building, refurbishment of car and truck parking lots, expansion of the truck parking lot to accommodate larger commercial trucks and increased space for truck drivers to park and sleep on the site, the rehabilitation of two existing picnic shelters, construction of handicap accessible trails and site amenities that include a pet area, public art, pollinator gardens, public art and children’s play structures. The project’s original budget and final cost is 5.92 M for site and buildings (completed in August 2019), a preceding phase that included site and highway infrastructure and utilities was completed concurrently by MnDot.

Reuse and Sustainable Features: The original Goose Creek rest stop (1969-70) was designed as an iconic circular form in brick with and curved wood benches. The original single use structure was inwardly focused—intended to expedite travel from the parking lot to the restroom, and turned its back on the most scenic feature on the site, Goose Creek. The larger site was developed with organically patterned trails and a series of circular picnic shelters. The client’s desire to maintain some memory of existing structures inspired the decision to maintain the round formal elements on the site and adapt them to new uses. This included the main safety rest area building (the original circular building footprint and utility access was retained), new picnic pavilions rejuvenated existing concrete and brick structures, and trails were redesigned to meet ADA requirements. The project was designed using passive solar strategies for day-lighting and thermal comfort. The facility uses a building management system for energy management and LED lighting to reduce energy use.


 Harris, Minnesota
 Minnesota Department of Transportation
 Jennifer Yoos FAIA, Vincent James FAIA, Nathan Knutson AIA, Nate Steuerwald AIA, Thena Tak, Paul Yaggie
 Sheehy Construction
 MBJ Structural, EDI MEP, PP Civil, Damon Farber Landscape
 Pete Sieger, VJAA


VJAA, 1995-2020
National AIA Firm Award; VJAA (2012); National AIA /American Library Association Library Building Award; Walker Library (2016); National AIA Honor Awards; SJA Chapterhouse and Chapel (2013); Chicago Apartment (2013), AUB Student Center (2009), Tulane University Center (2009), Dayton House (2002), Type/Variant House (1998); Progressive Architecture Awards; AUB Student Center (2006), UC Gatehouse (2006); Longitudinal House(s) (2002), Cable Museum (2001), Tulane University Center (2000), Rowing Club (1999); Architect magazine Top 50 National ranking; VJAA 1st for Design Recognition (2010); American Academy of Arts and Letters, Award for Architecture (2001); Emerging Voices, Architectural League of New York (1998)

Books: Parallel Cities: The Multilevel Metropolis: Walker Art Center and DAP Publishers, (2016). VJAA, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, (2006).


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