Peavey Plaza back on path to destruction

Courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.
M. Paul Friedberg's vision to revamp his original design.
The city's appeal to demolish Peavey Plaza in Nicollet Mall was approved by a City Council committee Thursday, meaning the 37-year-old park is one step closer to destruction.

Designed in the 1970s by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, the city's plan to completely replace Peavey with a slick, new concept has caused plenty of controversy. The city says demolition is the most viable course of action, but the resistance argues Peavey is a historical piece of Minneapolis' heritage, and options to simply remodel the existing park have been overlooked.

The city's Public Works department first brought the plan to demolish Peavey before the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission last month. When the commission voted against it, they appealed to the Zoning and Planning Committee. The appeal argued that Peavey is not actually a historic landmark, and it doesn't conform to the American with Disabilities Act, so could not be legally built today.

From the document:

Even if Peavey Plaza is determined to be a historic resource, a demolition permit is warranted. Appellant has completed an existing conditions assessment, design studies, and economic analyses over the past eighteen months and determined that Peavey Plaza is functionally obsolete and the cost to repair or replicate is not feasible.

Meanwhile, Friedberg has created alternative plans to remodel his old design.

Take a look:

Courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

"The new concept put forward by Friedberg updates the Plaza to address issues of accessibility, safety, revenue generation and other issues while maintaining the site's signature design elements," according to a statement from the Washington, D.C.-based Cultural Landscape Foundation. "The new concept also maintains the option for winter skating, a beloved activity at Peavey."

Charles Birnbaum, founder of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, says demolition isn't necessary to satisfy legitimate concerns about the Plaza. He also says the city has a total of four plans for Peavey, but the public has only seen one, which involves demolition. "Why can't we see the four plans?"

CPED proposal/The Cultural Landscape Foundation
The city's vision for Peavey Plaza (left) vs. M. Paul Friedberg's alternative design (right).

Beth Grosen, senior project coordinator for Minneapolis, says the plan will go in front of the full City Council at its May 25 meeting.

"Work will continue to finalize the design of Peavey Plaza and seek private donations for the revitalization," she says in an email. "Construction is expected in 2013."

Previous Coverage:

  • Should Peavey Plaza be demolished? [POLL]
  • Peavey Plaza demolition voted down
  • Peavey Plaza demolition ruling appealed by city

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    My Voice Nation Help

    All of these plazas are crap including the original Peavey. Just fill up the hole, throw some topsoil down and roll out some sod and plant a tree or two.  Done.

    Bubba from Austin
    Bubba from Austin

    I hope they nuclear bomb it to smithereens just so we can stop talking about a plaza that has been terribly underutilized, dismissed, and outright laughed at for over a decade.


    Are they going to have "Alive After 5" on the plaza at all this year ? I was hoping City Pages would say something about that , as they seem to be one of the sponsers . Unless I missed the information , I  have yet to see anything about it .  .


    Okay, a few things:

    1.  Why "destruction" instead of "renovation?"

    2.  Why are the Friedberg plans not also "destruction" as from those images they seem to involve completely replacing what is there too?

    3.  Given #2, hasn't this devolved into a debate about who gets to design the new Peavey?  Is there any reason to prefer Friedberg for people who are not him?

    4.  Since when is ice skating "beloved" at Peavey?  There was none this year or last year to my recollection.  In fact, I don't ever remember seeing any (although I didn't go by every day before these past two winters).

    5.  What important events in Minnesota history or heritage make Peavey historical?

    This really seems to boil down to a particular designer wanting his design to continue, rather than having much to do with what's best the city.

    Andy Mannix
    Andy Mannix


    The city's plan would involve demolishing the current design and rebuilding something new. Friedberg's plan would maintain the present design, but address concerns raised by the city, such as accessibility.

    Andy Mannix


    Yeah, Andy, I got that from when you wrote it in the original piece, and from the CLF website, but I was questioning the value of that distinction given that the images accompanying the Friedberg redesign seemed to pretty much start over too.  Now that I look more closely at the plans, though, I guess they are changing less than I thought, so maybe the distinction is fair.  It turns out that all the images are just of the same space in different uses.

    It's a nice touch that they put The Avengers on the screen, though.  


    They tried icing the plaza for skating last winter but it was too warm.

    There used to be many skaters in the plaza over winter -- I think people have better options in the immediate area now with the Loring Park pond and the Depot.

    I like Peavey Plaza but realize that it's high maintenance. I guess I'm not afraid of a change in this situation....

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