O Wise One, have you noticed that the Plummer Building carillon recently changed its tune for the hourly and quarter-hourly bongs? It's higher pitched, uses more notes and sounds more lyrical now. What is the tune or program and why did they change it? -- Doug
Excellent question, Doug. As of July 1, Mother Mayo tells me, there are two official chime settings for the carillon. The first is a new composition called "Mayo Clinic Chimes," adapted by carillonneur Jeff Daehn from chimes written by Mayo's first carillonneur, James Drummond. Those chines will be heard from the first to the 10th of every month, and the traditional Westminster chimes, also called the Big Ben chimes, are heard the rest of the month. Tune in when you're out and about -- it's one of the less-appreciated qualities of life here.
You can hear the audio on Mayo's website. I'll add a link to this column online.
FYI, the carillon was installed in the Plummer Building in 1928, as icing on the cake when the grand building opened, and it was another cultural gift from Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo, just like the Italian-carved statues of Washington and Lincoln that were given to the city but later dumped in a ravine and buried in Soldiers Field Park. Fortunately, Mayo has taken good care of the carillon, which is one of fewer than 180 in the nation and one of the largest, with 56 bells.
Dear Answer Man, are all those windows in the new and improved Mayo Civic Center "bird friendly?" -- A Bird Lover
Those aren't windows, Bird Lover, that's a "wave wall" of glass that's one of the distinctive features of the $85 million Civic Center expansion. It's potentially hazardous to our fine feathered friends, though Steve Sorensen, principal/senior architect at TSP in Rochester, says not to worry.
"The height of the glass areas on the MCC expansion is lower than presently exists on some structures in the Rochester downtown area, and the MCC expanse of glass has framing, columns and louvered fins to break up the expanse of the glass areas," Steve wrote in a letter last year to the city, which he forwarded to me in response to my question. "The glass on MCC is a triple-silver, low-E with 51 percent visible light transmission ... provided by Guardian Glass. This is an energy efficient choice for the project and is NOT highly reflective in deference to bird safety.
"We know of no fully proven bird-safe glass, although recommendations can be found in the Bird-Safe Building Guidelines published by Audubon Minnesota," Steve says. A pattern can be screened onto glass as one solution, but that would have added $200,000 to the project, he says. "We believe the design of the curtainwall along with the trees will provide adequate visual 'noise' to deter birds from hitting the glass."
This was a big issue when the new Vikings stadium, with its huge glass walls and mostly glass roof, was under construction and I'm guessing we haven't heard the last of it. Ditto for the Civic Center, though that wave wall is barely a ripple compared with the Vikings stadium.