In 1975, landscape architect M. Paul Freidberg conceived Peavey Plaza as the “living room” of downtown Minneapolis and a dynamic complement to the newly completed Nicollet Mall. The iconic sunken plaza balanced the tranquility of a large central reflecting pool with a cascading concrete fountain and active programming that filled the plaza throughout the year. The project was completed in tandem with Orchestra Hall and was well-loved and heavily used by the people of Minneapolis. However, after years of a constantly evolving city core and increasingly challenging accessibility issues, the plaza fell into disrepair. Despite these challenges, the plaza was eventually elevated to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and the City of Minneapolis, alongside the State of Minnesota, and many private donors, began revitalizing the Plaza in 2017.
The new design respects this protected status by focusing on extensive preservation, repair and reconstruction of historic elements throughout the plaza. Upgraded fountain mechanical systems reduce water consumption by approximately 90 percent, and improved sight lines and lighting make the space safer for all populations. It now has expanded potential to host the activities of the diverse citizens of Minneapolis, and new ramps provide accessibility to the plaza’s new shallow, central reflecting pool. Most important, the revitalization of Peavey Plaza preserves the unique character and importance of the “living room” of Minneapolis.
This process included extensive collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives from the accessibility community, the Minnesota Orchestra, Green Minneapolis, the Downtown Council, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, Preserve Minneapolis, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.