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.