Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Icons or eyesores?
“A lot of postwar buildings aren’t huggable,’” says Charlene Roise. Most aren’t eligible for the National Register of Historic Places either—a building typically must be 50 or older to win protection from the wrecking ball. And that’s a problem says Roise, an architectural historian based in Minneapolis, because many modernist structures are in danger of being altered or bulldozed. Here’s a short list of buildings she’d like to see preserved.

Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza

Ribbon-cutting: 1974
The concern: Minnesota Orchestra is planning a $90-million addition that would, among other things, double the size of the existing lobby. The 2009 expansion will eat up a chunk of Peavey Plaza.
Why save it? Peavey Plaza proves concrete can be park-like and is one of the few open spaces in downtown Minneapolis, says Roise.
Roise’s rallying cry: Think Mary Tyler Moore. “You look at that building and you say, ‘Ooh, 1970s!’”

Minneapolis Public Service center

Ribbon-cutting: 1956
The concern: The land beneath this five-story beauty might be worth more than the building.
Why save it? Built as part of mid-century urban renewal, it’s symbolic of the city’s efforts to revive its slumping downtown. It also features the same material—porcelain enamel metal—found on Lustron houses (several exist in Minneapolis) and White Castles. How cool is that?
Roise’s rallying cry: “It’s a little jewel.”


Ribbon-cutting: 1982
The concern: With the Twins and Gophers leaving, the stadium’s days appear numbered.
Why save it? Aesthetics aren’t the only reason to save a building. Innovative construction methods sometimes warrant historic consideration. Which brings us to the Dome’s roof: It’s air-supported Teflon. Sure, it’s collapsed three times. But mostly it’s stayed up.
Roise’s rally cry: “We shouldn’t just toss it out without talking about it,” Roise says. But, she adds, “I’m not going to lay down in front of a bulldozer for it.”

This story appeared in the January 2008 issue of Minnesota Monthly.