5 Famous Architects from Minneapolis

Minneapolis not only boasts a number of astonishing architecture – from the towering IDS Center to abstract design of the Weisman Art Museum – but also some of the most accomplished of architects. Every building requires someone to design it and a number of creative and compelling architects have come out of Minneapolis. Some worked for the state, some were professors of the medium, and some just came up with amazing designs. Here are some of the most famous architects who either came from or worked in Minneapolis.

Famous Architects Minneapolis
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Ralph Rapson

Rapson not only practiced architecture in Minneapolis in 1954 but was also the Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. Dabbling in the modernist styles, his devotion was to creating buildings more attuned to people than principles. He once stated, “Whenever I’m designing a building or a piece of furniture, people become a strong part of my general approach. The design process isn’t just about bricks and stones; for me it’s also about the people in a building and how I expect them to live.” Before he passed away in 2008, he published a book of his sketches in 2002.

Famous Architects Minneapolis
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Clarence H. Johnston Sr.

Born in Waseca County in 1859, Clarence went from studying at MIT to traveling Europe and Asia Minor to establishing his own practice in Minnesota. During his architectural career, he designed a number of homes and churches for Saint Paul. Some of his most noteworthy work was in the Summit Avenue and Saint Paul’s Hill District. He would lose a bid to redesign the new Minnesota State Capitol in 1895 but he did end up appointed State Architect in 1901. Additionally, he was the architect for the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota.

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Cass Gilbert

If you’re wondering who beat out Johnson on the bid to redesign the Minnesota State Capitol, it was none other than Cass Gilbert. He would start a practice in St. Paul with James Knox Taylor where they would design many railroad stations (such as Little Falls depot) before landing the top job of Capitol architect, in addition to designing the St. Paul Endicott Building in downtown St. Paul. Though Gilbert had intended to venture off to New York sooner rather than later for his career, he would end up staying in Minnesota from 1882 to 1898. His works have been preserved at the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota.

Famous Architects Minneapolis
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Edwin Hugh Lundie

In 1917, Edwin established an architectural practice in Saint Paul, Minnesota out of the Endicott building. Having been inspired by the American Society of Beaux-Arts Architecture, Lundie pursued a career in architecture where he would oversee such projects as the Chapel of Saint Thomas Aquinas, at the University of St. Thomas, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Peter J. O’Toole once wrote of Lundie as an architect who “did not call on the repertoire of the more lavish Renaissance and Beaux-Arts forms that distinguished the careers of his previous employers. Instead, he took his classical training and inherent art talent in a different direction, favoring smaller, less formal designs on a more intimate scale. Lundie’s architecture was defined by the use of traditional materials, processes, and the talents of a variety of artisans.”

Image Credit: Public Domain

William Channing Whitney

After graduating from MIT, Whitney would move to Minneapolis in 1878 where he garnered a strong relationship among the manufacturing and milling elite. He designed homes for the likes of Frank H. Peavey, James S. Bell, and William H. Dunwoody. His designs incorporated neo-Georgian as well as the latest technologies of the late 19th and early 20th century. His work allowed him to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts which led to him designing the Minnesota Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay 

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