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Peace Plaza "Heart of the City"

Latent, Coen + Partners

Rochester, Minnesota, United States

May, 2022


Katherine Darnstadt AIA, LEED AP (Bench + Movable Furniture Design + Community Engagement), Robin Ganser | Partner | Coen + Partners (Landscape + Urban | Project Lead)


HR&A (Advisors), RSP (Local Architects), Kimley-Horn (Civil, Electrical + Structural Engineering), El Dorado (Hesse McGraw) (Art Curator), Ann Hamilton, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Eric Anderson, Gwen Westerman (Artists


Patrick Seeb, Executive Director | Destination Medical Center (DMC)


Jasper Lazor


In support of ecological health, the design thoughtfully incorporates green elements, including 117 street trees, soil cell systems, + pervious pavement for storm-water management. These sustainable practices ensure the place remains ecologically healthy + thriving for years to come. Emphasizing the connection with the regional ecosystem, the project celebrates public art inspired by the local environment. This artistic expression fosters a deeper bond between users + the natural surroundings, encouraging a greater appreciation + awareness of the regional ecosystem. Furthermore, the project promotes resilience + reduces maintenance needs through the integration of universal design principles, wheelchair-friendly furniture, + visually-impaired-friendly paving patterns. Heated sidewalks also offer an eco-friendly solution by reducing reliance on ice-melting salt, benefiting the environment + contributing to long-term maintenance efficiency. Supporting regional habitat restoration, the project prioritizes green spaces, trees, + soil volumes with continuous soil cells. These elements play a vital role in regional efforts to restore + preserve natural habitats. A key feature that contributed to the project's lasting appeal was its unique design, strong community involvement, + the harmonious integration of art. This powerful combination instilled a sense of ownership and pride among the residents, compelling them to actively advocate for the preservation of this exceptional space. The project became more than just a physical development; it became an integral part of the city's identity, + the community was determined to safeguard its legacy.


The Peace Park “Heart of the City” project in Rochester, Minnesota, is a significant endeavor that aims to create a world-class public realm centered around the Mayo Clinic. The project's primary objective is to transform the car-centric streetscape of two city blocks + a plaza into an inviting + dynamic space that caters to the needs of the city's diverse community + millions of annual visitors, including Mayo Clinic patients + their families. Latent collaborated with a team led by Coen + Partners to design unique benches + movable platforms through a community engagement process that included prototyping for the spaces that consider physical distancing + universal design principles. Phase One was completed in May 2022 + won the 2023 ASLA | Award of Excellence | Urban Design. The transformation of Rochester's public realm stands as a testament to the power of vision, community engagement, art integration, + sustainable principles. By creating a vibrant + inclusive space that captivates both residents + Mayo Clinic visitors, the project has redefined the cityscape + become a cherished part of Rochester's identity. With its unwavering commitment to preserving the project's unique charm + lasting benefits, the community has embraced this world-class public realm, showcasing the true potential of collaborative + people-centric urban initiatives. The project's inclusivity shines through its creative community engagement approach, where the design team actively involved residents + stakeholders in decision-making, resulting in a public realm that meets the diverse needs of the community.


Mayo Clinic ADA + Health Specialists helped implement inclusive custom wheelchair-friendly furniture + paving profiles to facilitate visually impaired users to navigate the project. Strategic community interaction informed all the design decisions through multiple workshops. Peace Plaza Dakota land reflects Ann Hamilton’s artwork “Song for Water”, embedding Dr. Gwen Westerman’s poem De Wakpa Taŋka Odowaŋ / Song for the Mississippi River into a 200-foot-long plaza. Artist Eric Anderson’s “Wakefield” uses misting jets actuated by Mayo Clinic data: misting at first + last breaths taken that embraces the city's vibrant + diverse community. The project prioritizes walkability + accessibility, fostering a more inclusive + just community that ensures the needs of all residents are met, through extensive community engagement that played a central role in the design process. The goal was to remove barriers + promote social equity, with special attention given to vulnerable communities. Universal design principles were integrated to enhance accessibility for everyone, including visually impaired individuals, fostering a more inclusive environment. Moreover, the project aims to promote human connection by incorporating captivating public art, igniting awe + imagination among visitors. As a gathering space for events, it provides opportunities for community connection + interaction, reinforcing the sense of unity within the city. Health + resilience are also key aspects of the project. The design thoughtfully integrates green spaces + 117 street trees, contributing to a healthier environment for the community. Stormwater management systems ensure sustainable practices + minimize environmental impact.

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