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Paul Mandell's Legacy of Service


Starting his career at CAAPB in 1987, Paul Mandell’s retirement in 2021 marked a 34 year legacy of service to the Capitol Area of Saint Paul and to his employer, the State of Minnesota. Paul developed innumerable collaborative relationships during his tenure, with his evolving duties to planning, zoning administration, design review and project guidance culminating with nearly a decade as CAAPB’s Executive Secretary. Countless visible changes to the Capitol, Capitol Mall and Capitol Area have experienced assistance, guidance, reviews or approvals from Paul:

  • Infrastructure, implementing the “Green River” vision (originally envisioned by Advisors Michaelson and Sanders (to be confirmed) immediately prior to Paul’s arrival) and redesign of all bridges over Interstate 94/Interstate 35E, linking the Capitol Area with downtown St. Paul. Redesign of all lighting for streets and walkways to improve the safety for the public. Planning, design and implementation of Green Line light rail train (LRT) through the Capitol Area, along with construction of the Capitol/Rice, Robert St., and 10th/Cedar St. LRT Stations.

  • Buildings, including construction of the Minnesota History Center and the Judicial Center, designs selected through CAAPB-sponsored competitions, and construction of the Stassen Revenue Building and accompanying parking ramp, the Freeman Ag/Health Office Building and Lab Building, the Elmer Andersen Human Services Building, several parking structures, and in 2016, the Minnesota Senate Office Building. Community engagement, design review and approvals in the Capitol Heights neighborhood with of projects such as; rowhouses on the former State Lot V parking lot, new 90+unit micro-unit apartment building, a new shopfront medical clinic, and a dozen shopfront improvement projects on Rice Street.

  • Commemorative works and Capitol Mall development, including the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II Veterans, as well as the Special Forces in Laos, Wilkins Memorial, Peace Officers Memorial and Firefighters Memorial ,Hubert Humphrey Memorial, Women’s Suffrage Memorial Garden, Worker’s Memorial and the Military Family Tribute Memorials. Most recently, redesign of the Promise of Youth pool to honor Minnesota’s Medal of Honor recipients. Multiple iterations of the Capitol Area’s policies for Commemorative Works on the Mall and in the Capitol Building.

  • Planning for development, including extensive CAAPB involvement in development and implementation of the Saint Paul on the Mississippi Development Framework; and corridor and station area planning including an ‘urban village’ development framework for the Sears site district in 2019.

  • Capitol building restoration, including between 1980 and 2008, $68 million in select exterior and interior preservation/restoration projects, culminating in the creation of the Capitol Preservation Commission in 2011 and the ensuing $310 million Comprehensive Restoration of the entire State Capitol Building with updated safety, mechanical and electrical, and over 30,000 square feet of new spaces available for public use.

  • Landscape; including collaborative work with Department of Administration on the plantings of the Capitol Mall, as well as lighting and signage plans for the Capitol Area, and design input for the Security Task Force in on-going development of improved security on State properties starting with 2013.

  • Testimony to legislature and other public bodies, and providing information directly to decision makers.

  • Zoning administration/permitting for the sixty urban blocks Capitol Area.

  • Zoning code updates, including development and commissioning of the award winning Rules for Zoning and Design for the Minnesota State Capitol Area.

  • Comprehensive plan updates and rewrites, including The 2040 Comprehensive Plan for the Minnesota State Capitol Area, soon to be adopted in June of 2021.

Paul Mandell is succeeded as Executive Secretary by Merritt Clapp-Smith. Merritt has thirty years of professional and volunteer experience as a planner, project manager, community organizer, and strategic advisor. She has worked in the public and private sectors for communities and organizations large and small, including 11 years as a Planner with the City of Saint Paul. Merritt is excited to begin her position as Executive Secretary at the CAAPB and looks forward to the important work of planning and caring for the Capitol Area, its legacy and its future for the people of Minnesota.  Merritt replaced Paul Mandell on July 1, 2021.

Photo and summary contributed by CAAPB Principal Planner Peter Musty, June 1, 2021, marking Paul’s retirement. 
Photo of Paul with Quadriga during restoration work in 2016.

Request for Friends and Colleagues: Please help us honor Paul by sharing a favorite memory or story for a photo and well wishes book. Please share as many memories as you like – he has a long history with the CAAPB!

See the Senate Media’s interview of Paul on June 8, 2021: "Retiring from State Service"

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