The Soap Factory is a large non-profit contemporary art space near downtown Minneapolis that’s been a mainstay of the arts community in Minnesota for many years. OOIEE founder Matt Olson was on the Board of Directors in 2011/12, so there’s a deep history. The building – literally a former soap factory – is on the National Register of Historic Places but has always been quite… punk. Large cavernous rooms, unrestored, no heat, dusty air and patched imperfections. In many ways, it perfectly evoked the Soap’s scrappy spirit, but it was clear a renovation would help it serve the artists, their work and the community better while also creating spaces for new programming and expanded possibilities. Plus, the neighborhood around the gallery is rapidly gentrifying in a generic manner that developers favor. How could the Soap Factory keep its punkness in the face of this aesthetic sprawl? How could the design of space “cause” art? OOIEE is serving as “Creative Director of Landscape Architecture and Exterior Space” as part of a $6.5 million renovation. Project partners include: Architect of Record Studio M Architects, Wittkamper Reiff, Emanuelson-Podas, Faegre Baker Daniels, Hansen Thorp Pellinen Olson, Herzog Engineering, LLC, McKnight Foundation, and Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. Unfortunately due to a perfect storm of shifts in the art grant realm and the complex market forces in Minneapolis real estate and politics, the renovation was paused which will likely shift outcomes and goals. We’re huge fans of the Soap Factory and know it’s deeply missed by the cultural community in the Twin Cities.