TOM OSLUND

When the Minneapolis City Council last month picked Oslund and Associates to renovate and upgrade Peavey Plaza -- the now-shopworn space around Orchestra Hall that once was a template for modernist urbanity around the world -- it essentially certified the nine-member landscape-design firm as the go-to gang for Minneapolis civic spaces.

Oslund believes in "sculpting open space into an artful form," as his firm did previously by creating a spiraling tumulus as the centerpiece of Gold Medal Park near the Guthrie Theater and providing a serene landscape for the display of sculpture at General Mills' headquarters in Golden Valley.

Besides winning the Peavey commission, this year the Oslund team completed a playful and welcoming plaza at the entrance to Target Field -- complete with bat-shaped topiary columns and ball-themed statuary -- and produced plans for a contemplative memorial to victims of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse. With consummate skill, Oslund transforms contemporary sites with active and reflective spaces, functional utility, civic history and artful designs.

MARY ABBE