Peavey Plaza, Mineapolis, MN

Controversial Rehab of Peavey Plaza Moves Ahead

After avoiding demolition in 2012 and being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, Peavey Plaza may now be subject to harmful rehabilitation. During the week of January 15, 2018, the City of Minneapolis intends to seek construction bids for major renovations to the Modernist park-plaza designed by M. Paul Friedberg. Bids are expected in the range of $7 million, with work scheduled to start this spring. The bid announcement comes after the city forwarded its “90-percent design submittal” to the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on November 21, 2017. In comments issued on January 11, the SHPO requested additional consultation on concrete repair specifications and some proposed materials. All in all, though, the SHPO concluded that, although the plans will adversely affect Peavey Plaza, the property will retain enough historic integrity after the rehabilitation to maintain its National Register designation.

The “90-percent design submittal” was also reviewed by representatives of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM), the two groups who together blocked a previous proposal that would have eviscerated Friedberg’s design. Preserve Minneapolis and the Minnesota Chapter of DOCOMOMO have also been monitoring the city’s plans. A joint letter from all four organizations responding to the most recent plans raised several concerns, including the proposed plantings; techniques for repairing the concrete; the type and location of green space and its associated plantings; and methods for filling the basin, which will transform it into a wet plaza. As PAM’s Erin Hanafin Berg observed in a recent article in Finance and Commerce, the basin was “intended to evoke the character of a lake,” but, in the proposed design, “it’s essentially a large puddle.”

The city has acknowledged that its plans do not conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes, and that, as a result, the alterations will have adverse effects on the historic character of Peavey Plaza. A meeting has been scheduled for February 12, 2018, to discuss mitigation measures proposed by Peavey advocates, which include the following:

  • Public interpretation of Peavey’s Modernist legacy.
  • Creation of an endowed maintenance fund to ensure that the plaza will be adequately maintained in the future.
  • A guarantee that at least two individuals with backgrounds in historic preservation will be full members of the board of the organization responsible for managing Peavey Plaza. (One member would be an historic architect from the SHPO; the other would be appointed by PAM and TCLF).
  • Nomination of Peavey Plaza for designation as a local landmark by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission.

The “90-percent design submittal” and updates on the bidding process are available on the city’s website. The public is invited to attend a stakeholders' meeting on Wednesday, January 17, 4:00-5:00p.m., in the Green Room at Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.