MnDOT Safety Rest Areas


Minnesota Department of Transportation


Biome: Tallgrass Prairie—Coteau Moraines, Jackson, MN


Two Safety Area Rest Stops


3,500 sf Each

The Safety Rest Areas (SRAs) enable discovery, respite, and stewardship, while reflecting their purpose and place. They are inspired by how people have historically lived in this place, the tallgrass prairie of North America, which is defined by beautiful sweeping landscapes, intense sun, and constant wind.

Elements common to each SRA are green roofs and stone walls, which provide shelter from sun and wind and anchor the buildings into the landscape. The sheltering enables the lobby to be enclosed in glass, providing high visibility and safety. The solid enclosure of the restrooms provides added protection to the open spaces. Public art is integrated into each SRA with large photo murals depicting details of the prairie.

Clear Lake

The large, tilted sheltering roof rises from the interior and extends up and out into the landscape, creating space sheltered from the sun. The green roof recalls how the homesteaders protected the building from the sun and wind. A wall constructed with native stone provides shelter from the wind and recalls stone walls along the perimeter of agricultural fields and provides an intuitive circulation.

Des Moines River

Curved stone walls express a tiered landscape and define a knoll to the north and sunken play area to the south. The roof form integrates the building with the prairie landscape with a curved, tilted roof plane, extending from the interior out and up into the landscape, focusing views on the riparian landscape along the river and providing shade for outdoor spaces. A green roof provides protection from sun and wind. An elevated walkway into the tree canopy along the river creates a memorable experience, forging a connection to this place.