Prolific Detroit-based, Latvian-American architect Gunnar Birkerts died a the age of 92 on Tuesday, his son Sven Birkerts announced via social media. No cause of death was provided.
Born on Jan. 7, 1925, in Riga, Latvia, Birkerts was a graduate of the University of Stuttgart in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1949. He began his architectural career with Perkins+Will before joining Eero Saarinen's Bloomfield Hills, Mich., office. Birkerts later worked for Minoru Yamasaki before opening his own practice, Gunnar Birkerts and Associates, in the 1960s.
Named a Fellow of the AIA in 1970, Birkerts is best know for his late-modernist designs including the Federal Reserve Bank building (today called the Marquette Plaza) in Minneapolis, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Mo., the U.S. embassy in Caracas, Venezeula, and, most recently, the National Library of Latvia, called the Castle of Light, which he initially conceptualized in 1989 and was completed in 2014. Birkerts was also a faculty member at the University of Michigan for almost 40 years.
Birkerts is considered by some to be "the most successful Latvian architect ever."
The architecture and design world has already taken to social media to mourn the architect's loss.
RIP Gunnar Birkerts, an underappreciated figure in late modernism & one whose most representative work feels v relevant to current debates https://t.co/VXkzBHz6VN— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) August 15, 2017
So sad to hear this news. A master of form and reflection (literally). https://t.co/Jdtz1hwTOI— Alexandra Lange (@LangeAlexandra) August 15, 2017
Very sorry to hear news this morning of the death of Gunnar Birkerts: another alumnus of Saarinen’s office who did so much memorable work— Paul Goldberger (@paulgoldberger) August 15, 2017
Gunnar Birkerts, the acclaimed modernist whose works included Minneapolis Fed. Res. Bank. + Univ. of Mich. Law Library addition, died today.— Blair Kamin (@BlairKamin) August 15, 2017