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Minneapolis Skyway Standards - Standards and Procedures Manual

Section 1.0 Background

The Minneapolis Skyway System is a second-level pedestrian movement system connecting downtown office, retail, hospitality, residential, and parking uses. The system consists of over seventy bridges and it connects nearly as many downtown blocks. Except for connections to public buildings and public parking facilities, most of the Skyway System has been privately developed, owned, and operated.

The Minneapolis Skyway Advisory Committee is a committee of nineteen members representing downtown property owners and skyway users that serves in an ad hoc basis and reviews all skyway plans prior to the City's granting of encroachment  permits for construction in the public right-of-way.  Skyway Advisory Committee members are appointed by the Downtown Council for two year terms.  Committee appointments are subject to approval by the Minneapolis City Council.

The purpose of the Minneapolis Skyway System Standards and Procedures Manual is to assist developers and architects in their design for additions to the Skyway System, and to ensure that new skyway development contributes to the success of the system as a whole.  In addition to the guideline set forth herein, all skyways, tunnels, and connections concourses are subject to the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances and all relevant building codes. 

Section 2.0 Architectural Design Standards

2.1 Location in the Public Right-of-Way

2.1.1     Skyway bridges shall be developed at only the second level of the building.

2.1.2     Except where crossing streets and alleys, skyway bridges and corridors shall be located within the property lines and shall not encroach over public right of way

2.1.3     All skyways should run perpendicular to the sidewalks, streets, and alleys that they cross.

2.1.4     Where ever possible, all skyways should cross sidewalks, streets, and alleys in the middle portion of the block rather than at the extreme ends of the block.

2.2 Architectural Form

2.2.1     Minimum and Maximum Height above the Street or Alley: The bottom of skyway bridges must be a minimum of 16 feet - 6 inches (16' 6") above the street or alley.  

2.2.2     Minimum and Maximum Width: Skyway bridges and corridors shall have a minimum interior clear width of 12 feet (12' 0") between hand rails. Skyways shall be no wider than 30 feet (30' 0"). Skyway width (interior clearance between handrails) should be carefully considered in relation to each skyway's  relative location within the system, and the projected intensity of sue for that skyway.  Wherever possible, skyway ridges and corridors within the Downtown Core should have a minimum interior clear width of 18 feet (18' 0") between hand rails.

2.2.3     Horizontal and Vertical Alignment: In elevation, skyway bridges shall be designed to be horizontally parallel to the street surface and vertically perpendicular to adjacent buildings. Changes in grade shall be accommodated within the skyway such that the skyway appears visually level from the exterior. In plan, Skyway bridges shall be designed to be perpendicular to tech alignment of the street or alley they cross.

2.2.4     Transparency: Skyway bridges shall be designed to be transparent in order to provide views into and out of the skyway. Clear glass shall be used for the purpose of maintaining security within the Skyway System. 

2.3 Access

2.3.1     Skyway corridors shall be designed to facilitate clear and easy access between street and skyway levels. Elevators, stairs, and escalators linking the street and skyway levels shall be located in such a way as to provide convenient, visible links to the skyway level from the adjacent street and sidewalks.

2.3.2     Skyway bridges and corridor (including but not limited to doors, ramps, and signage) must meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

2.3.3     Comprehensive design solutions that incorporate interior grade changes through the construction of all-purpose ramping are favored over design solutions that include stairs and chair lifts. Satisfying ADA requirements through and ad hoc combination of solutions is discouraged.

2.3.4     All access doors between skyway bridges and the corridors of new buildings shall be power operated and shall open in a sliding, side-to-side direction.

2.3.5     All access doors between skyway bridges and the corridors of existing buildings shall be power operated and should open in a sliding, side-to-side direction. In cases where a new skyway connects to an existing building  and side-sliding doors are not possible, power activated doors shall open in the prevailing direction of pedestrian traffic.

2.4 Public Safety

2.4.1     All access doors between skyway bridges and building corridors may include hold-open features which are integrated with the fire/emergency systems in the buildings that are adjacent to a given skyway bridge.

2.4.2     All building doors leading from skyway level corridors to street-level building doors and all doors between skyway bridges and building corridors may include hold-open features which are integrated with the fire emergency systems.

2.4.3     Emergency lighting shall be installed within the skyway bridge.

2.5 Building Systems

2.5.1     Heating and Ventilation: Skyway bridges shall be heated to a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and ventilated not to exceed outdoor temperatures in summer.

2.5.2     External Lighting: If street lights are removed for the construction of a skyway, replacement street lighting must be provided on the bottom of the new skyway. Lighting should be replaced so as to provide the same level and character of illumination as street lighting in the surrounding block.  All lighting shall be provided in accordance with the City of Minneapolis ordinances regarding street lighting.

2.5.2     Internal Lighting: Internal lighting should be consist ant and seamless between skyway bridges, corridors, and vertical circulation elements (elevators, escalators, and stairs) in order to eliminate sharp contrasts in lighting levels.

Section 3.0 Signage Design Standards

3.0 Signage

3.1.1     Unless otherwise noted, all signage will adhere to the policies and procedures contained in Minneapolis Skyway Signage Standards (dated September 2000), which was authored by the Skyway Advisory Committee and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and is administered by the City of Minneapolis Public Works Department. Specifically, all buildings that incorporate new skyways into the system shall adhere to the "Blue Waters Signage Package."

3.1.2     Directional signs and signs indicating hours of operation (approved by the Minneapolis Skyway Advisory Committee) shall be incorporated in the design of skyway bridges and corridors.

3.1.3     Building entrances shall include clear directional signage as per the Skyway Signage Program.

3.1.4     Elevators, stairs, and escalators linking the street and skyway levels shall include clear directional signage as per the Skyway Signage Program.

3.1.5     All buildings that incorporate new skyways into the system shall be responsible for buying and mounting a standard Skyway System Map and Directory Panel on the skyway level of that building.

3.1.6     All buildings that incorporate new skyways into the system are strongly encouraged to install the standardized electronic information kiosk for the Skyway System on the skyway level of that building.

3.1.7     Signs attached to skyway bridges that are intended to be read from the public right-of-way shall not be permitted.

Section 3.2 Skyway System Off-Premise Signage

3.2.1     Purpose

The Skyway Advisory Committee recognizes the increased demand in the marketplace for off-premise signage (advertising and other) within the skyway system. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance  to skyway owners and building owners as to where off-premise signage should be permitted and not permitted.

3.2.2     Definitions for the Purposes of the Section

Off-premise signage: Any sign (regardless of form or media) used for the purpose of displaying, advertising, identifying or directing attention to a business, service or activity, including products or services sold of offered for sale on the premises other than on the premises where such a sign is displayed.

Skyway Bridge: Any part of the skyway system that is located over the public right-of-way not including any segment that shares at least one common wall with a building or is located over an alleyway.

Skyway Corridor: Any part of the skyway system that is not a Skyway Bridge.

3.2.3     Policy

Off-premise signage shall be permitted in any Skyway Corridor only to the extent that the signage cannot be viewed and/or is not intended to be viewed from a Skyway Bridge of public right-of-way.

Sound emitting from or for the purpose of drawing attention to off-premise signage is no permitted within any Skyway Bridge or Skyway Corridor.

Section 4.0 Operation Standards and Public Safety Standards

4.1 Skyway Use

4.1.1     Skyway bridges shall be used exclusively for pedestrian movement. Other uses such as retailing, permanent seating, vending, and display shall be confined to spaces off the skyway bridge.

4.1.2     Some skyway bridges and corridors may be used for seating and public gathering during special events so designated by the Skyway Advisory Committee (such as the Holidazzle Parade). All uses of skyways for such events will adhere to the public standards outlined by the Minneapolis Fire Marshall.

4.2 Standard Hours of Operation

4.2.1     Skyway bridges and corridors shall remain open during the following hours:

Monday - Friday.......6:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Saturday..................9:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Sunday....................Noon - 6:00 p.m.

4.2.2     Property owners are encouraged to keep their skyway bridges, corridors, and vertical circulation elements open beyond standard hours of operation, particularly during the holiday season.




Last updated Jan 22, 2018



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