City of Minneapolis Earns TCLF’s Stewardship Excellence Award

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City of Minneapolis Earns TCLF’s Stewardship Excellence Award

City of Minneapolis Earns TCLF’s Stewardship Excellence Award
Sep 30, 2019

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) has named the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the recipient of the organization’s 2019 Stewardship Excellence Award, citing the successful revitalization of the city’s Peavey Plaza as a praiseworthy achievement deserving of recognition. The plaza officially reopened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, July 18, 2019, following years of work to rehabilitate the once-imperiled landscape.  

Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during the Grand Reopening of Peavey Plaza, Minneapolis, MN - Photo by Charlene Roise, 2019

Peavey Plaza is the innovative park-plaza created in 1975 by celebrated Modernist landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, who once described the two-acre site as “a mixture of the American green space and the European hard space.” Although plans were announced in 2012 to demolish the plaza, which lies adjacent to the city’s Orchestra Hall, the news quickly drew the attention of local and national advocacy organizations, including TCLF. Peavey Plaza was then listed in the National Register of Historic Places in January 2013. Only 38 years old at the time of the listing, the property qualified for the National Register as an “exceptionally important” site, a requirement for properties less than 50 years old.

The city subsequently hired Coen + Partners to develop plans that meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. With construction beginning in May 2018, the formerly dry fountains and other infrastructure were repaired, new trees, plantings, and lighting elements were put in place, and the plaza was updated to improve accessibility for the physically challenged.

Peavey Plaza, Minneapolis, MN - Photo copyright Keri Pickett, 2008

TCLF’s Charles Birnbaum announced the Stewardship Excellence Award in a letter to Mayor Jacob Frey on September 24, 2019, noting that while the efforts and advocacy of myriad individuals and groups supported the years of planning and work to rehabilitate the plaza, it was “ultimately the leadership and decision-making of the city’s elected representatives that brought the project to fruition, rehabilitating a key public amenity and ensuring the survival of an historically significant, National Register-designated work of landscape architecture.”

The $10 million revitalization project was backed by generous private donations and by state and local funding, including $4 million contributed by Target and other private donors, which was matched $4 million invested by the city. The State of Minnesota also provided $2 million to the endeavor.

Peavey Plaza, Minneapolis, MN - Photo copyright Keri Pickett, 2008

Birnbaum further noted that “the long-term success of the efforts to bring Peavey Plaza back to life lies in the fact that the work was rooted in principles outlined in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, thus ensuring that both an historic designed landscape and a vibrant urban space would emerge in the end—one that retains the essential character of Friedberg’s Modernist design while accommodating the needs of the physically challenged.”

“In the larger context, the project also shows that the spirit and design intent behind great works of landscape architecture can be maintained while accommodating contemporary needs and uses,” he added.

Peavey Plaza, Minneapolis, MN - Photo by Charlene Roise, 2017

TCLF’s Stewardship Excellence Awards honor individuals, local groups and organizations, government agencies, and others whose work demonstrates the sound stewardship of the nation’s significant cultural landscapes and will help educate and inspire future generations of stewards. Past recipients include the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Presidio Trust, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

TCLF will present this year’s Stewardship Excellence Award during a ceremony on October 22, 2019, from 5:30 to 7:00pm in the Target Atrium of Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall.