• The Experimental City
    Chad Freidrichs

Staff photo, rural residents protest the proposed Minnesota Experimental City, 1973, Anoka, MN. Courtesy of the Minneapolis Tribune.

Athelstan Spilhaus had worn many hats: respected meteorologist, oceanographer and inventor, commissioner of the Seattle World's Fair, and author of a popular futurist newspaper comic. But in the mid-1960s, he became a frustrated member of a federal committee on urban pollution. To truly understand the problem, Spilhaus came to believe, an experiment was in order. Thus was born the idea for the Minnesota Experimental City (MXC), a futuristic attempt to rein in urban sprawl and pollution that would be constructed in the Minnesota woods. MXC would be built with modular construction and a system of underground tunnels, allowing the city to be efficiently re-formed, literally from the bottom up—a perfect testing ground for new techniques in pollution control and urban form. And the craziest part was: it almost got built. The Experimental City is a feature-length documentary that tells this story and explores its implications.

Chad Freidrichs has been in the film and television industry for over a decade, and served for five years as assistant professor in digital filmmaking at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. Freidrichs has produced four feature-length documentary films, including The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, about the notorious St. Louis public housing complex Pruitt-Igoe, which played at over sixty film festivals worldwide, was theatrically distributed by First Run Features, and was nationally broadcast on PBS's America ReFramed. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth received the International Documentary Association's 2011 ABC News VideoSource award for archival footage usage, the American Historical Association's 2012 O'Conner Film Award for outstanding interpretation of history, and the Organization of American Historians’ 2012 Erik Barnouw Film Award. Freidrichs most recently completed a science-themed archival documentary, The Secrets of Nature Revealed.