“As we live and as we are, Simplicity – with a capital “S” – is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.”
― Frank Lloyd Wright
Gunnar Birkerts, an acclaimed Detroit-area architect who designed major buildings throughout the Midwest, including the former Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and an addition to the University of Michigan Law Library, passed on Tuesday.
Birkerts was a Latvian-American architect who, for most of his career, was based in the metropolitan area of Detroit, Michigan. His designs include the Corning Museum of Glass and the Corning Fire Station in Corning, New York, Marquette Plaza in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, and the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2014, he designed the National Library of Latvia in Riga, Latvia (aka the Castle of Light), whose architectural form references and draws inspiration from Latvian folklore.
He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1970, and a Fellow of the Latvian Architect Association in 1971. Birkerts was the recipient of numerous individual awards, including a 1971 fellowship from the Graham Foundation, the Gold Medal of the Michigan Society of Architects in 1980, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1981, and the 1993 Michigan Artist of the Year award.