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BEST TILT AT A WINDMILL Minneapolis 2002 -

You have to give Paul Metsa credit for perseverance: Even after a November Minneapolis City Council vote made the razing of the Guthrie Theater a virtual fait accompli, the folk musician/preservationist continued to advocate fiercely for Ralph Rapson's 39-year-old building, distributing leaflets, circulating petitions, and lobbying any public official who would listen (not many did). It was an uphill battle from the start, of course: The Guthrie argued that it had outgrown its current home; the Walker Art Center had designs on the theater's location for a new parking lot; and the building was deemed too big and expensive for any other prospective tenant. But Metsa's argument for preservation was always more emotional than practical: "It's the Carnegie Hall of the Midwest," he told the Star Tribune in January. "When you play there, it's like you're standing in the hand of God." As a link to four decades of performance, Metsa contended, the Guthrie has significance far exceeding its architectural or pragmatic value. And once such a building is demolished, that link is permanently severed. After getting a first look at Jean Nouvel's design for the new riverfront Guthrie, it's hard not to concede Metsa his point.

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