Gaviidae Common Mall – Minneapolis Gem with a Rich History

A Unique Mixed-Use Shopping Mall and Office Complex

Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, Gaviidae Common is a mixed-use shopping mall and office complex that has been an iconic presence on Nicollet Mall since 1989.

This unique shopping center was designed as a joint venture between Argentine-American architect César Pelli and Chicago-based Lohan Associates.

With a total retail floor area of 443,000 square feet spread across five floors, Gaviidae Common has been a beloved destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

The mall’s namesake comes from the loon, a bird belonging to the family Gaviidae, which can be found in the artwork throughout the center. Gaviidae Common is anchored by Walgreens and YMCA, which were added after an extensive renovation.

The mall’s original anchor tenant, Saks Fifth Avenue, converted into a discount store in 2005 before closing in 2015. Neiman Marcus, which opened in 1991, closed in 2013.

The Evolution of Gaviidae Common

From Opening to Present Day

Gaviidae Common’s first phase opened in 1989, with Saks Fifth Avenue as its sole anchor. The second phase, Gaviidae Common II, was completed in 1991 and featured Neiman Marcus. The mall has undergone several transformations over the years, with tenant changes and renovations.

One notable change occurred in 2005, when Saks Fifth Avenue vacated its 84,000-square-foot space, retaining only 27,000 square feet for its Saks Off Fifth clearance store.

Neiman Marcus announced plans to close its 118,000-square-foot retail space in 2012 due to underperformance and an inability to achieve long-term operational goals.

After KBS Companies acquired Gaviidae Common II in 2013, plans were revealed to renovate and improve Gaviidae Common II and the neighboring RBC Plaza skyscraper. This transformation involved repurposing the mall’s food court, State Fare, into extra office space for RBC Plaza.

Nightingale Properties acquired Gaviidae Common I in 2013 and began subdividing and reselling parts of the building. Saks Off Fifth closed in 2015, and Walgreens moved in shortly after.

In 2016, the YMCA purchased three floors of Gaviidae Common I, later opening its new facility in 2018.

Design and Layout

Gaviidae Common I, designed by César Pelli, features a celestial design in its atrium, representing Minnesota’s Northern sky. It is currently the most significant barrel-vaulted ceiling in the state.

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A 600 lb sculpture of a loon, designed by artists Deborah Sussman and Paul Prejza, is hung in the atrium.

Gaviidae Common II, designed by Lohan Associates, features red-accented columns and railings and once housed the world’s only “upward-flowing waterfall.”

The two skyways adjoining both Gaviidae Common buildings contain Minneapolis’ first fourth-floor skyway, with four additional skyways connecting to other downtown buildings.

Gaviidae Common Through the Years

Event Year
Gaviidae Common I opens 1989
Gaviidae Common II opens 1991
Saks Fifth Avenue vacates 2005
Neiman Marcus announces closure plans 2012
KBS Companies acquires Gaviidae Common II 2013
State Fare food court closes 2013
Nightingale Properties acquires Gaviidae Common I 2013
Saks Off Fifth closes 2015
Walgreens moves in 2015
YMCA purchases three floors of Gaviidae Common I 2016
YMCA opens its new facility 2018

A Place to Remember

Gaviidae Common has been an integral part of the Minneapolis community for decades, providing a unique shopping experience for locals and visitors alike. The mall’s storied history, distinct design, and evolving tenant mix to make it an unforgettable destination.

For those who have lived or visited Minneapolis, Gaviidae Common is likely to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the closed or demolished shops and the vibrant atmosphere that once filled the center.

For those new to the city or visiting, Gaviidae Common’s active tenants and unique design will provide an enjoyable and memorable shopping experience.

In conclusion, Gaviidae Common remains a gem in the heart of Minneapolis, with its rich history and iconic presence on Nicollet Mall. It has stood the test of time and is a beloved destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

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