City Counsel Okays Walker Plan to Demolish IDS

Robert Kyle

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved the Walker Art Center’s plans to demolish the IDS Center. The approval of the demolition permit clears the way for phase one of the Walker’s $300 billion expansion project that will eventually extend the museum’s Sculpture Garden from its current location on the western edge of downtown, through Loring Park, down Nicollet Mall and, finally, to the IDS Center’s current plot between 7th and 8th streets.

The 8-3 vote follows months of intense debate between expansion advocates and preservationists. The Walker, which shocked many in the local business community last week when it purchased the eight hundred foot-tall office building, insists it has no use for the tower, and thus razing the structure is the only logical thing to do.

“If it had been possible to incorporate the tower into our expansion plans we would have taken that option,” said Karen Gysin, the Walker media relations director. But many activists argue the tower has too much historical significance to be simply erased from the skyline. The IDS has been Minneapolis’ tallest and most recognized skyscraper since it was built in 1971.

“If they tear down the IDS,” said Phyllis LLewellen, founder of SavetheIDS.org, “they’re going to be tearing down a little piece of each and every one of us. Would you like to sign the petition?”Philip Johnson, one of three architects who worked on the IDS tower’s design, called the council’s action “rather deceitful and biased.”

“Did you know that enough reflective glass was used in the construction of the IDS Center for one pair of sunglasses for each resident of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota?” Johnson said.

It will take at least 18 months to deconstruct the tower, according to Walker estimates. By the time the IDS Center is cleared, Walker officials hope pending deals to acquire Loring Park and Nicollet Mall will be done deals, and construction of their “sculpture corridor” can begin in 2003.