Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: I don’t get you.

RN: Join the club.

CP: You are Peavey Plaza’s new BFF. And while I know you harbor ill will concerning the role of our fabled skyway system on the downtown streetscape, no one knows that labyrinth like you do. You’re like a walking Google Maps of skyways.

RN: At least you didn’t call me the Rain Man of skyways. When I was a kid, whenever a new one would open — I’d learn about it via Barbara Flanagan’s column in the Minneapolis Star, which I followed the way a bookie absorbed the Daily Racing Form — I would beg my long-suffering dad to take me downtown, so that I could experience it for myself. Yeah, that’s a stratospheric level of nerdiness.

CP: If I had thought of that Rain Man analogy, I’d have used it. Seriously, you have led me down some skyways that are traversed by maybe 15 people per month. Are you excited to be going back “on skyway” when our office moves next year?

RN: Like you can’t believe. Civilization awaits.

CP: There’s nothing quite like being able to stroll to Jimmy John’s in a blizzard wearing just a slack and a polo, right?

RN: Well, there is that. Depending upon which school of urban planning one subscribes to, skyways have kept downtown alive or contributed to its slow death.

CP: I do believe that I would join César Pelli in having a hissy fit if they try to pierce his central library with a second-floor People Tunnel. You?

RN: Maybe. It depends on where they would go, and if Pelli would have a hand in their design. My favorite skyways remain the ones that radiate from the IDS Center, in part because architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee planned their Modernist masterpiece with them in mind, and not as an afterthought.

CP: Pelli might be willing to pitch in. Didn’t he do so with that great skyway on the east side of the Wells Fargo tower? The one with the rubberized floor and the colored windows?

RN: That’s a collaboration with Minneapolis sculptor Siah Armajani, and it’s a beauty, right? There’s something chapel-like about it. If only more building owners applied that artful approach to the second-story bridge.

CP: James Corner, who won the Nicollet Mall makeover competition, had a couple of good ideas about skyways. Reflective undersides on skyways seems gimmicky.

RN: Agreed. Very disco.

CP: More important, they proposed stairways connecting street and skyway directly. Love that.

RN: In theory, yes, but it’s all about location, location, location. A carbuncle-like portal against the ageless IDS? Thanks, but no thanks. But if it’s attached to the monstrosity that is City Center, be my guest.

CP: You worry too much. I think the stairway being imagined does come down to the Mall right in front of the IDS. You and Barbara Flanagan could promenade down it at the ribbon-cutting.


E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib