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Mort L. Mazaheri, Casa Grande, Ariz., Published June 29 2013

Letter: Try to preserve the old City Hall

The idea of a new City Hall for Fargo is timely. The current City Hall was designed and built about 50 years ago when the population of Fargo was 50,000. Now the Fargo population is more than 100,000 and the need for accommodating the city services has increased, at least, proportionally.

The current building in combination with the library and the Civic Center received an “Award of Excellence” from the American Institute of Architects. This complex was the first contemporary design in Fargo for more than 30 years. Being 50 years old, by definition it is a historic building. It was one of the few buildings that followed the Bauhaus School of Design in the upper Midwest. It is still a very attractive building, although there is a need for a larger facility.

City Hall is an important feature of downtown Fargo, and there are several choices for the site. Two sites stand out. One alternative is to build above the parking area east of the current building with plenty of space for future expansion. Another alternative is to utilize the space west of the building, in the open area. Both of these sites are complex, but there are enough architectural talents in Fargo to make a new and aesthetic addition to Fargo’s downtown. In either case, the current building could be integrated into the design.

The late professor Earl Stewart, who was the city planner and urban renewal director at the time, was credited for the site planning and conceptual design, although the overall architect for the project was the former chair of architecture department at the University of Minnesota. With the strong support of Mayor Herschel Lashkowitz and the City Commission, this complex became an example for integrating the city functions is a unique way.

I am hoping that every effort will be made to preserve and adapt this building to some city-related functions. For the new building there are several individuals with design and historic preservation background appropriate to serve on the steering committee.

Mazaheri is a former Fargo city commissioner and a North Dakota State University professor emeritus.