Long before we understood the quality and scope of the productions staged within the 55-year-old Guthrie Theater, we were enamored with its bones: at once boxy and curved, dressed like a sleek metallic IKEA but with a sculptural green space where a parking lot would ordinarily be.
In particular, we were enchanted by the Amber Box, where downtown Minneapolis can be seen—and Instagrammed ad nauseam—through canary-hued glass. The room, located on the complex’s ninth floor, is cantilevered a vertigo-inducing 15 feet from the face of the 13-year-old building. It’s just one of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel’s whimsical flourishes. Another is the Endless Bridge, a 178-foot-long gangplank jutting out the front, where, in warmer months, you can stand on the balcony and feel the breeze of the Mississippi River. A wall of sapphire blue glass turns the whole city cobalt, while cleverly mirrored window ledges reflect and invert the skyline back at viewers. Meander through the fourth level and keep your eyes peeled for a tall blue wall: That transparent panel offers visitors a glimpse of the goings-on in the backstage area linking the Guthrie’s two main theaters.
To learn more about Nouvel’s striking architecture, join a 75-minute, behind-the-scenes tour, scheduled for the first Saturday of every month at 9 a.m. and the third Saturday at 10 a.m. Tickets are $17 a pop for adults, or you can always visit the Amber Box for free on your own.
While you’re at it, keep tabs on the Guthrie’s seasonal calendar. It’s a surprise a minute up there: Shakespeare or Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the 1,100-seat Wurtele Thurst Stage, Cyrano de Bergerac in the 700-seat McGuire Proscenium, and intimate events like The Laramie Project: A Reading and Conversation in the 200-seat Dowling Studio.
The Guthrie Theater
818 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-377-2224.