Gunnar Birkerts, Duluth Public Library architect, dead at 92

Gunnar Birkerts, a Latvian-born architect who extended the vocabulary of Modernism using unexpected angular forms, folding planes and ingenious, light-suffused interiors, died on Tuesday at his home in Needham, Mass. He was 92.

Duluthian-at-heart Scott Newstok sends this link to the New York Times: Gunnar Birkerts, Architect, Dies at 92; Gave Shape to the Unexpected

My take:  In addition to the Duluth Public Library, the article mentions his design of the Federal Reserve building in Minneapolis, an amazing failure of a building constructed from suspension cables.

I think the plan to relocate the Duluth Public Library is on hold. It’s not, like the Fed in Minneapolis, an amazing failure — it’s a fascinating landmark, to me, that maybe only suffers for being mis-placed. (I wish it didn’t obscure the Depot.)

Anyway. News. –-David

1 Comment

Paul Lundgren

about 7 years ago

15-month-old article: Modernism in Disguise: Taking a Second Look at Underrated Buildings Around the U.S.

Duluth Public Library (Gunnar Birkerts: 1980) Referencing the city’s historic role as a shipping center on the shore of Lake Superior, this curved library was created with the profile of an ore boat in mind, a deliberate attempt by its Latvian-born architect to fit the structure into a tight, restricted site. The exterior, clad in porcelain steel panels and glass, is colored slate gray to match other historic buildings downtown, and stretched out to suggest the city’s own extended shape. While locals have suggested the design is over-the-top, it pales in comparison to one of Birkerts’s original schemes for the project, placing the library on a rail track, and literally rolling it back and forth around town.

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