Gunnar Birkerts, Architect with a connection to Minneapolis

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I was recently reading the obituary for the architect Gunnar Birkerts, who passed away on August 15th at the age of 92, and learned that he was responsible for the Federal Reserve Bank building in my hometown of Minneapolis (pictured here). As you can see from the pictures, it’s an unusual building, both for its curved lines and the fact that it stands elevated on two “legs” or end supports with empty space underneath. As you can see in the picture below right, there’s a vast open and flat space underneath the building, and the memories it brings back from my childhood was that this was a favorite location for skateboarders in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I’m sure that was not Birkerts’ intention for this open space, but that’s how it was adopted by the skateboarding crowd at the time.

Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis by Gunnar Birkerts

Birkerts was a fan of the Bauhaus while studying in Germany after World War II, and emigrated to the United States in 1949, where he was able to get a job with the noted architect Eero Saarinen in Birmingham, Michigan. You can learn more about Birkerts’ life and the buildings he designed in the same NY Times obituary that I was reading here.

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