Form & Function: Four Corners – International Falls

This is the intersection of 3rd Street and 5th Avenue in International Falls.


Overwhelmingly for me, the best of this is the NE corner where Coffee Landing is located. These buildings are enjoyable to walk by and to view from across the street. They have a great connection to the street inside and out (though some windows in the side rather than a billboard might be welcomed).

The other corners are, in my opinion, completely lacking in character and interest. They are about as welcoming (and welcomed) as an ingrown toenail. The building in the SE corner is an unwelcoming brutal fortress that is only marginally helped by landscaping.

I tried to quickly find some historic photos of these corners. I’d guess that all looked more like the NE corner and were more appealing prior to the 1960’s or 70’s.

NE Corner - Coffee Landing.

NE Corner – Coffee Landing.


SE Corner - Brutal office building

SE Corner – Brutal office building


SW Corner

SW Corner


NW Corner - Sears

NW Corner – Sears

How would you rate these in terms of form and function? How well do they relate to the street? Are they pleasing to look at? Welcoming? Nice to walk by? Should they be replicated? What impact does good or bad architecture have on a community? What responsibility do architects, builders, developers, and city leaders have to insure that buildings do more than just serve the most basic needs of businesses inside them?

Walker Angell

About Walker Angell

Walker Angell is a writer who focuses mostly on social and cultural comparisons of the U.S. and Europe. He occasionally blogs at, a blog focused on everyday bicycling and local infrastructure for people who don’t have a chamois in their shorts. And on twitter @LocalMileMN

10 thoughts on “Form & Function: Four Corners – International Falls

  1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    I’ve had an idea to do something like along University Avenue, Walker. There are only two intersections in Saint Paul on the whole street where all four corners have actual buildings that come up to the sidewalk at the intersection. Every other intersection has at least one of the four corners where there’s a parking lot, empty lot, or large setback boulevard between the sidewalk and the building.

    Can anyone guess which ones they are?

    1. John

      My first thought was University and Dale but I looked it up and one corner has a parking lot. So is it University and Snelling then? The only other corner besides that and Raymond that might meet the cut is Arundel St, but it doesn’t go through University so I don’t know if you would count it.

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