Then and Now: International Market Square

IMS’ history reveals how the building continues to benefit Minnesota’s design-build community

Photos courtesy of International Market Square  

Minneapolis’ International Market Square boasts modern amenities within a vintage aesthetic.

With over 40 consumer-facing and designer-exclusive showrooms, International Market Square (IMS) wasn’t always a hoppin’ design hub. Built in 1905, the building originally housed one of the largest textile companies—known as the Northwestern Knitting Co.—in the country. The site was later taken over by Munsingwear Inc., producing fine fiber products and fabric that transformed the garment industry nationwide. In 1981, however, the business moved out of state to more economical locations. Many feared the building would sit empty, but according to Bud Cleator, conceirge at IMS, designer Kathryn Koutsky had other plans.

After seeing the San Francisco Design Center, observing how a manufacturing facility could be beautifully transformed, Koutsky came back to Minneapolis and sold the idea to others—kickstarting the site’s transformation process. Construction crews, architects, and designers brought a new vision to life—one where the six disjointed buildings would come together under one roof, culminating in a 350,000-square-foot space that celebrates creators, craftspeople, and more. IMS officially opened in 1985 and has remained a buzzing beauty of design innovation ever since.

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