Design teams from New York, Boston, Beijing, and Berkeley, California will compete to revamp 5.5 miles of Mississippi riverfront north of downtown Minneapolis.
The area includes residential neighborhoods, industrial sites and parks.
Organizers of the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition announced the finalists Monday. A jury chose them from 55 entrants.
Former Minneapolis Parks Superintendent David Fisher, one of the jurors, said the goal is to make a better connection between city neighborhoods and riverfront greenways.
Fisher said it'll take decades to implement the entire concept, but the winning team will get a commission to overhaul one Minneapolis park.
"The idea is to set the stage, to set the framework and the vision of how that can interact, and how that can be the guiding principle of design for the rest of the river," Fisher said.
Project manager Mary DeLaittre said making a world-class outdoor space of such disparate elements will require rethinking what a park can be.
"It's moving beyond turf and trees, and starting to think much more about multi-functional parks that perform in a whole variety of ways," DeLaittre said.
The teams will visit Minneapolis late in November. A public comment session is set for Dec. 7, and organizers will pick a winner in February.