A Uniquely Minnesotan Model of Governance
In 1891, the Minnesota Senate created a committee to determine whether a new capitol building was necessary and if so, where it should be located. Based on this committee's report, the 1893 legislature passed an act "to provide for a new capitol for the state of Minnesota" authorizing the governor to appoint the Board of State Capitol Commissioners, composed of seven citizens, one from each of the state's congressional districts.
Following the construction of buildings deemed architecturally inappropriate to the Capitol Area in the 1950's and 1960's, a statute in 1967 created the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Commission. In 1975, legislative action to more clearly define the numerous boards and commissions changed the commission's name to Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board (CAAPB). One of the CAAPB's primary statutory responsibilities is to prepare a comprehensive plan for the Capitol Area. In 1974, legislation was enacted to require the CAAPB to prepare and submit biennial reports to the Legislature and the Governor on the status of implementation of the comprehensive plan, together with a program for capital improvements and site development.
Structured for Collaborative Decision-Making
By Statute, the Board has twelve members and is chaired by the Lieutenant Governor. There are four members appointed by the Governor, three members appointed by the Mayor of Saint Paul, two members appointed by the President of the Senate, and two members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. By law, an Advisory Committee of three architectural and/or landscape design professionals is required to advise the Board on all architectural, planning, and landscaping matters that affect the Capitol Area. There are three full-time staff who serve the Board at this time. The Board normally meets every two to three months, or at the call of the chair.
Ongoing Purpose Ensure the Highest of Standards
The Board, Executive Secretary and staff have the year-round duty to review or approve issues directly affecting zoning, planning, development, and/or design within the 60-block area of the jurisdiction of the Board. The Board’s standards are based on quality of design, long-range planning, and timely processing and review. The CAAPB works closely with the Department of Administration, the City of Saint Paul, regional agencies, neighborhood planning organizations, district councils, development groups, private-sector architects, engineers, and developers.
State agencies and other public bodies who consider building projects in the Capitol Area are required to consult with the Board before they develop plans. Designs for new public buildings and memorials are obtained through architectural competitions. In addition, the Board must review and approve all plans for substantial alterations and/or improvements to public lands, infrastructure, parking facilities and buildings in the Capitol Area. The Board coordinates the implementation of major public projects in the Capitol Area, most recently, the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (The Green Line).
The State Capitol Building is the most important building in Minnesota. Any significant changes to the Capitol’s appearance must be approved by the Board, and in this role the Board must consult with the Minnesota Historical Society in regard to the historic fidelity of the planned changes. The Board also shares responsibility with the Department of Administration for developing standards for the repair, alteration, appearance, furnishing, and general maintenance of the Capitol’s public and ceremonial areas. These standards are binding upon the Department of Administration.
In developing the Policy for Works of Art in the Minnesota State Capitol (adopted in 1998 and updated in December 2015), the Board also shares responsibility with the Minnesota Historical Society for the design, structural composition, and location of artwork within the public and ceremonial areas of the Capitol Building.
In February 2012, the Board adopted a Policy for Commemorative Works in the Minnesota State Capitol Area , providing guidance for the consideration and design of statues, monuments, memorials, or other commemorative works within the Capitol Area. According to MN Statute 15B.08, Subd 3: “No substantial change or improvement may be made to public lands or public buildings in the Capitol Area without the written approval of the board.” This includes both addition and removal of public buildings, statuary or other memorials or public art, as well as significant above ground alterations to public open spaces and roadways.