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Plaza Renovations Complete

Four Years Later, MCTC Completes Extensive Plaza Renovations, Celebrates with Neighborhood Residents

MCTC's new outdoor plazaOn Oct. 24, MCTC celebrated the grand completion of its outdoor plaza with neighborhood residents. The $3.89 million project took nearly four years to complete, and removed great swaths of concrete, replacing them instead with winding paths, natural grasses and ample green space. The project also allowed for deferred maintenance of MCTC facilities and implementation of stormwater management.

“The goal of this project was to create a corridor from downtown Minneapolis into the college campus,” said Ryan Herm, chief landscape designer of the plaza redesign project and design associate at Oslund and Associates. “Engineering this plaza using the available space and goals of environmental mindfulness made this project fun.” According to Herm, multiple rain gardens and grass-covered areas now redirect rain water from surrounding “hardscapes” and return it to the local water table.

In order to make this redesign possible, construction crews had to change the composition of the soil, digging as deeply as 10-12 feet. “During construction, we excavated some interesting stuff,” said Herm. “We found old building foundations and streets that used to run from downtown Minneapolis.”

“There were ancient heating and cooling pipes from a time when the buildings in this part of the city were connected to other downtown buildings,” said MCTC Facilities director Roger Broz. “We uncovered more than 100 years of history.”

Prior to the start of construction in 2009, the MCTC outdoor plaza was a vast stretch of concrete—much of it crumbling or in need of repair. “The northern part of the plaza actually sits above the roof of one of our basement buildings,” said Broz. “There was a need to address long-deferred maintenance to address a leaking roof, and for asbestos abatement.” The plaza renovations “Minimize the impervious surfaces that contributed to rainwater collection, and aesthetically bring Loring Park up to the school.”

“Before construction, the plaza wasn’t really a space for people. It was old, decaying and in need of a facelift,” said vice president of Finance and Operations Scott Erickson. “Now you see students enjoying it year round. For that reason, we wanted to thank the neighborhood. They put up with a lot of construction over a long period of time.” Click here for an album of before and after photographs of the outdoor plaza.

Throughout the phases of its construction, the outdoor plaza has been awarded two Greening Awards from the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District.

The plaza celebration brought residents of the surrounding neighborhood to MCTC’s new outdoor plaza and Helland Center to meet each other, discuss the renovations and learn about the project from landscape architects, MCTC staff and President Phil Davis. The Helland Center itself was the focus of extensive renovations during plaza construction, and unveiled to the College community at a 2012 reopening.