What started out as a seemingly very open discussion about the future of Minneapolis' historic Peavey Plaza is now being accused of just the opposite.
Peavey Plaza was named a "marvel of modernism" by the Cultural Landscape Foundation in 2008. Now architects and preservationists are concerned a redesign will eliminate key features.
A group of landscape architects and preservationists are now expressing their dismay at how those involved - namely the city administration and the Minnesota Orchestra - have denied key people access to the redesign process. That includes two-thirds of its own redesign team, Charles Birnbaum and the original architect of the plaza, M. Paul Friedberg.
The coalition released a statement today listing its concerns - here are a couple of key excerpts:
...Sadly, the City and the Minnesota Orchestral Association have subverted the process of planning its revitalization. What was initially portrayed at the project's onset as an open process, and included a public interview of the four finalist consulting teams at the Minneapolis Convention Center chaired by Mayor RT Rybak, is now a closed‐door process and guided by factors uninfluenced by public input.
...On October 12, 2011, CEC members were given a preview of the single option
developed for revitalizing Peavey, an option that removes the signature and defining elements. Setting aside the merits of the proposed re‐design, which some of our signatories have previewed, we are concerned that the design decision‐making process has not been transparent. The public was assured that several design schemes would be developed, and yet only one is being presented to citizens; meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council is scheduled to take action to approve the redesign next week.
The project has $2 million in state funding, so the public should be given a greater role in determining the Plaza's future. CEC members were told that rehabilitating the existing plaza would be more than twice as expensive as the proposed new design, and that prospective funders (yet unidentified) are unwilling to support a rehabilitation scheme. However, thorough cost analyses have not been presented for either scheme. How did we get to this point?
We call on the Mayor, the City Council, and the Plaza's principal neighbor, the Minnesota Orchestra, to honor the right of citizens to effectively participate in the design decision‐making process. To do otherwise would diminish Peavey Plaza's once and future role as the heart of downtown Minneapolis.
I've got a call in to the City of Minneapolis for a response the allegations made above, and will post it as soon as I get it.
Update (1:56pm): Krista Bergert at the City of Minneapolis says they've only just received the statement themselves, and there's no one currently available to respond.
As for the Minnesota Orchestra, PR Director Gwen Pappas says "We're supporting the city. We've seen the design, and we like the design."
A public open house is planned for Wednesday, October 19, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. in the MN Orchestra Hall lobby to review the design being recommended by the city and the orchestra.
Ben lives in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota. The year: 1977
Rose lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. The year: 1927
What do to two people so distanced by time and space have in common?
1. They are both deaf
2. They both leave home to travel to New York City
3. They are both characters in Brian Selznick's new book "Wonderstruck"
An illustration from Brian Selznick's "Wonderstruck."
Copyright 2011 by Brian Selznick. Used with permission from Scholastic Press
MPR's Euan Kerr spoke to Selznick about his new work, which tells Rose's story in pictures, and Ben's story in words.
Selznick said when he first thought of telling two tales simultaneously in text and pictures, he knew he needed the right subject. Then he saw the documentary "Through Deaf Eyes" which includes an educator who described deaf people as 'the people of the eye.' He latched onto that.
"There were a lot of things interesting me at the time as well," he said. "The history of museums, and ideas about New York City. And Minnesota, as well, ... became a very central part of the story."
As part of his book tour, Selznick is asking for sign-language translators at his readings, including one tonight at 6pm at Open Eye Figure Theater in Minneapolis.
Posted at 5:15 PM on October 18, 2011
by David Cazares
Filed under: Music
For more than four decades, the guitarist Pat Metheny has left an indelible mark on the jazz world, with a string of contemporary jazz and other albums that defied conventional boundaries.
From Bright Size Life in 1975, a brilliant recording that fused jazz sensibilities with the sound of the American heartland and a modern vision, his records have pushed listeners to open their minds to new approaches and sounds. His large fusion groups deliver sweeping musical scores filled with vibrant melodies, percussion and electronic wizardry, while his small jazz ensembles allow him to focus on jazz improvisation in a more-traditional setting.
Much like his greatest influence, the truly legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, Metheny has redefined how jazz is played on the guitar. He thrives on telling stories, a technique that has led to three gold records: Still Life (Talking), Letter from Home and Secret Story. He also can deliver excellent straight-ahead jazz, as he does on Trio 99>00 with Larry Grenadier on acoustic bass and Bill Stewart on drums.
Indeed, Metheny is a songwriter at heart. Perhaps that's what led him to record his latest CD, What's It All About, solo versions of 10 classic pop songs from the 1960s and 70s, from Alfie by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to Betcha by Golly Wow by the Stylistics.
Like his 2003 solo recording, One Quiet Night, Metheny recorded his latest at home in between his busy touring schedule. But the new recording contains songs from an earlier era, before he starting writing music and in some cases before he began playing.
Instead of the huge amount of electronic gear he normally uses, on his latest CD Metheny largely plays a baritone guitar, a cross between a conventional guitar and a bass guitar.
The few exceptions include Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence, on which he plays a Pikasso 42-string guitar. From the song's opening series of notes, Metheny delivers a version that is light and airy with harp-like sounds and bass notes that give the impression of movement.
On That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be, by Carly Simon, Metheny's playing on baritone guitar opens a window into his moments of solitude. A listener can hear how the guitarist's fingers glide between chords, how he breathes between notes. His expert use of space adds a thoughtful quality to the song.
For And I love Her, by the Beatles, Metheny picks up a nylon-string guitar and builds a nicely improvised story from the simple melody. In his hands, the song is sweet and expressive.
Though all of the songs are recognizable tunes, Metheny delivers them in his voice. His playing is inescapable and distinctive: a bright and clear sound that reflects his roots in Missouri, his grounding in the work of the masters that came before him and his modern vision.
Some jazz fans may find his approach too contemporary. But if you judge Metheny's compositions and his playing by the standards that make for good jazz - a blend of rhythm that owes much to the blues, strong melodies and a sense of swing - he is definitely a jazz artist. Even on an album of pop tunes.
Posted at 4:12 PM on October 18, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Architecture
This afternoon I heard back from Krista Bergert with the City of Minneapolis. Bergert pulledl together these bullet points on the process surrounding the redesign of the downtown Minneapolis plaza:
CEC (Community Engagement Committee) members were shown design images in June. We did not give them copies of the images because they were still evolving. For that reason, we preferred that they not talk about the designs they've seen. They were not told they could not discuss the process.
Friedberg and Birnbaum are subconsultants to Oslund, not the City. My understanding is that Oslund did consult with them, but at a point, Friedberg and Birnbaum said they were not in favor of pursuing a new option for Peavey Plaza. Because of their viewpoint, they were not consulted beyond that.
The City and Orchestra have held two open houses to date to ask for public comments on the design of the plaza, and we received many. In June the CEC was shown four design schemes, a preservation scheme, a hybrid option and two new schemes. We received comments on all the schemes. Subsequent to that meeting, the Review Committee limited the options to preservation or new design. On August 23, the Review Committee voted to go with a new design option.
We never told the CEC that a preservation option would be twice as expensive. In fact, we said that it would cost $11-12 million while the new scheme would be $8-10 million.
Landscape architect will be responsible for the preparation of cost estimates for alternative concepts. The MOA and City will work together to determine the best alternative based on the limited funds available for the project.
Again, a public open house is planned for Wednesday, October 19, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. in the MN Orchestra Hall lobby to review the design being recommended by the city and the orchestra.