Sesquicentennial Sculpture and Plaza


Client: Gustavus Adolphus College

Location: St Peter, MN, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $50,000

Project Team


Greg Mueller

Mueller Studio


Perkins Will Architects, Minneapolis, Minnesota


In celebration of 150 Years of the institution, the Sesquicentennial Plaza initiative was commissioned by Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota. Perkins Will Architects of Minneapolis, in collaboration with artist Greg Mueller developed a central gathering space at the intersection of the campus pedestrian axis points. The plaza features a College History Time Line Walk, the re-installation of the Paul Granlund Palindrome bronze fountain and the Sesquicentennial Sculpture, composed of 150 stepped layers, representing the 150 years of growth; 1862-2012. The plaza was dedicated October 5, 2012 in the presence of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.


The project goal for Sesquicentennial Plaza was to weave together four major elements into a cohesive and organic gathering space at the center of campus. The North-South axis of the college mall features academic buildings and leads to the centrally located Christ Chapel. The new plaza is located next to the Chapel acting as a hub, intersecting with a new East-West axis; the landscape arboretum to the west and a new columbarium to the east. The Plaza includes Mueller's Sesquicentennial Sculpture, commissioned to celebrate 150 years through a growing helix of 150 stepped layers of Vetter Kasota Stone and steel. At the sculpture’s base, Perkins Will continued the vertical concept of time by developing a horizontal experience of a Cold Spring Granite time-line walk. This provides the viewer an opportunity to ambulate down the walkway, reading historic events of the college etched into the granite surface. Continuing the organic formal elements of the sculpture, a curving stepped concrete amphitheater anchors the west end of the plaza leading to the arboretum. The final element of the plaza was re-installing the Palindrome bronze fountain, created by long time Sculptor-in-Residence at Gustavus, the late Paul Granlund.


The collaborative process was a stimulating exchange discussion on "time" and how the spirit of 150 years of the college can be celebrated through both the vertical - the layering steps of the Sesquicentennial Sculpture, and the horizontal college history timeline, designed by Perkins Will-architects, Krisan Osterby, Laura Lyndgaard and Ben Sporer. Together these elements paved the way for the organic tone of the entire gathering space. The 2-year long process included several productive meetings of talented players, who together, brought the concept of plaza to a place-making fusion of art and design. COLLABORATIVE PARTNERS: President Jack Ohle, Gustavus Adolphus College, Warren Wunderlich, Gustavus Physical Plant; Perkins Will, Landscape Architects, Minneapolis, MN; Greg Mueller, Artist; Oakdale Precision Engineers, St, Paul, MN; CAB Construction, Mankato, MN; IS Group Engineers, Mankato, MN; Extreme Powder Coat, Blooming Prairie, MN; Siehndel Concrete, LeSueur, MN; Vetter Stone, Kasota, MN; Cold Spring Granite, MN; Murphy Rigging, Minneapolis, MN.