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Groups suing Minneapolis over demolition of Peavey Plaza claimed a moral victory Thursday when the downtown Minneapolis site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“This is a very exciting day for us,” said Doug Gasek, the new executive director of Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. “It helps us by showing this place is important not just locally, but at a national level.”
Gasek’s group, along with the Washington, D.C.-based Cultural Landscape Foundation, is suing Minneapolis over its plan to demolish the plaza as part of an in-progress renovation of Orchestra Hall.
Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff, who chairs the city’s zoning and planning committee, said Thursday that the announcement “shouldn’t affect the plans at all. It already went through the local review process. This just brings more attention to the space.”
The designation, announced Thursday, will be published on Jan. 25, according to a statement from the Cultural Landscape Foundation.
Well-known landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg designed Peavey Plaza, which opened in 1975, around the same time as the current Orchestra Hall. It features a sunken plaza, a shallow pool, stepped seating areas and a fountain at the corner of 12th Street and Nicollet Mall. It used to feature ice skating in the winter.
The National Register action was “not a surprise to us,” said Erin Hanafan Berg, field representative of the Preservation Alliance. “We have believed all along that it’s a historically and architecturally significant site, but the city wouldn’t listen to us,” Berg said.
The current plan, approved by the City Council in 2012, would scrap most of Friedberg’s original design. The city maintains that a redo is needed to maximize usage and bring the place into compliance with new disability-access laws. The current plan, with a projected $10 million price tag, was unveiled in October 2011, but has not yet been put in place, although work is underway on the adjoining Orchestra Hall renovation.
Opponents remain determined to save the plaza. “Peavey Plaza’s National Register designation is a victory of Paul Friedberg’s brilliant design, for Modernist landscape architecture and further undermines the City of Minneapolis’ ill-advised demolition plans,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, Cultural Landscape Foundation founder and president, in a statement.
Berg said the next step in the dispute comes Feb. 5, when a judge is scheduled to hear from both sides in the pending litigation. A trial is set for June.
The National Register lists 88,000 historic sites, but only about 2,500 of those are deemed significant as works of landscape architecture. Thursday’s listing is not the same as a landmark designation, which is rarer and harder to achieve. Minnesota has just 29 places that have been designated as landmarks on the National Register.
Staff writer Eric Roper contributed to this report.Claude Peck • 612-673-7977 • On Twitter: @ClaudePeck
The just-opened Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, N.Y. / Photos by Matthu Placek
Herzog & de Meuron, who designed the Walker Art Center renovation that opened in Minneapolis in 2005, have done museum projects in San Francisco (the de Young) and in Spain (the Caixa Forum in Madrid and the Museum of Natural Sciences in Barcelona).
The Swiss architects' newest art palace is a stunner of a shed on Long Island. Their new Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, which opened in mid-November, is a 600-foot long shed of steel, salvaged wood, glass and concrete. The original idea, for an $80 million museum, was scrapped when fund-raising hit a snag. The new project came in at a budget of just $26 million.
Justin Davidson wrote this review of the new place in New York magazine.
More photos of the exterior can be seen here.
Veteran preservationist Doug Gasek has been named Executive Director of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM). The Minnesota organization, based in St. Paul, promotes understanding of Minnesota history and education about community preservation and values.
Prior to taking the Minnesota job, Gasek held a dual post as Executive Director of the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation and as State Architectural Historian for the Alaska Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. In his preservation role he increased membership, revenue and strategic partnerships with public and private organizations. Previous to that he served as historian and archaeologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He holds a M.A. in historic preservation from Southeast Missouri State University and a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Artists have been picked to design four installations totaling $1.05 million at Union Depot in St. Paul's lowertown. The 33-acre Union Depot site is being transformed into a regional transit hub for Amtrak and the light rail line linking St. Paul and Minneapolis as well as bus, bike and other transport modes. The art projects are to be installed in 2013.
The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) has committted about $1.25 million for art projects including $1 million in national funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). In addition to the four projects announced Aug. 7, the RCRRA plans to hire additional artists for smaller depot projects totaling about $200,000.
Depot renovation is scheduled for completion at the end of 2012.
Picked from 156 applicants, the chosen artists are:
Steve Dietz, Minneapolis, Mn: $500,000 to head a team that plans to develop an "interactive multimedia artwork platform." Best known locally as the impresario behind "Northern Spark," a one-night midsummer culture festival centered on the Mississippi River, Dietz will head a team that includes light artist Jim Campbell; Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, Montreal-based artists who "specialize in large-scale participatory art projects," Michael Murnane, a Twin Cities-based light-projection artist; architect Jeffrey Scherer; Sarah Peters who is billed as "a public engagement and community partnership specialist," and Cynthia Hilmoe, an "expert in user interface and design."
Tim Prentice, West Cornwall, Conn: $200,000 for a kinetic metal sculpture to be suspended over the depot's new Kellogg Entry where transit riders will ascend from the street to the train deck and waiting room.
Ray King, Philadelphia, Penn: $200,000 for a suspended sculpture -- most likely made of glass, metal and/or laminating films -- for the Great Hall Atrium.
Amy Baur and Brian Boldon, Minneapolis, MN: $150,000 for a ceramic-tile-and-glass mural along a 170 ft. wall in the carriageway that serves auto, taxi or other ground transportaton.