Heart of the City

Project Description

Heart of the City is in the core of Rochester, Minnesota: two city blocks situated between the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. This space invites residents and Mayo visitors to immerse themselves in a community sky-viewing experience, bringing together two populations in more meaningful interaction. In support of this theme, a large, data-driven art piece changes colors when miracles occur at the clinic: purple for a birth and yellow for an all-clear for cancer. This reveals just a small piece of the magic that occurs daily at the clinic, and the result is a compelling public space that is uniquely Rochester.

Latent Design worked with a team lead by Coen + Partners to design unique benches and movable platforms for the spaces that take into account physical distancing and universal design principles. Phase One was completed in 2022 and won the 2023 ASLA | Award of Excellence | Urban Design.

Photos @JasperLazor

Project Details

Rochester, MN
130,000 SF
Rochester DMC


Coen + Partners, El Dorado, RSP, Kimley-Horn, Fluidity


  • 2024 MCHAP Cycle 5 | Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize
  • 2023 ASLA | Award of Excellence | Urban Design

Project Gallery

Plaza releases fog intermittently throughout the day.
The new public plaza becomes a gathering space for residents, visitors, and patients to experience fresh air, rest, art, and community.
Fabricated benches and lush trees line protect the sidewalk from the adjacent street.
Poetry-embossed brick pavers seamlessly transition across a scrim pool at the center of the plaza for universal access.
The scrim pool reads seamlessly across the plaza
At the heart of every signature city is a vibrant downtown, where one-of-a-kind spaces, diverse programming, and enticing events encourage residents and visitors to linger a little longer.

Dr. Gwen Westerman’s poem De Wakpa Taŋka Odowaŋ / Song for the Mississippi River
Eric Anderson’s “Wakefield” consists misting jets that are actuated by Mayo Clinic data.
Mist represents the first and last breath cycle.
  1. 1 Changing Place

    Heart of the City has become an integral part of the city's identity.

  2. 2 Changing Context

    Peace Park re-imagines a car-centric streetscape + public plaza.

  3. 3 Changing Expectations

    Engagement informed meaningful furniture design.

Six rolling benches can be arranged randomly.
They can also be combined to form a performance stage.
The jury loved that the designers prioritized the people's experience in this timeless design.
The project goes beyond creating a place; but a sensitive, inspirational urban heart that minds its people and pumps energy into the surroundings.

2023 Awards JuryAmerican Society of Landscape Architects

Community Engagement included 11 street furniture prototyping events.
This community interaction informed design decisions.