Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mike Schrock, 53, dies
Michael Schrock, a Minneapolis architect who recently joined LSA Design, died on Monday. He was hit by a pickup truck while walking on a busy street in Fargo, N.D.

Schrock, a gentle man who was active in the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), was in Fargo with relatives to plan for his father's funeral. According to the Fargo Forum and Dickinson Press, Schrock was heading northbound on University Drive under I-94 when the accident occurred at 6:30 a.m. There was no sidewalk on that side of the street.

From 1997 to 2007, Schrock partnered with Michael DeVetter to form Schrock DeVetter Architects, a firm that shared offices with Close Architects at 31st and Franklin Avenue in south Minneapolis.

"It was a very happy marriage to have him in the building," said Gar Hargens, president of Close Architects. "I loved having him with us."

Hargens hired Schrock DeVetter to work with him on several projects, including River Tower Condominiums plaza, Louis Warren Hill House at 260 Summit Avenue and the Seward Co-op. On the River Tower project, which won a Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Award in 2006, Schrock realized that an important piece of the original plaza didn't have to be replaced, saving the client a significant amount of money.

"He was always ready to help whether it was changing a light bulb or doing a drawing," Hargens said.

Schrock was quick to volunteer his time at Minnesota AIA. He was the organization's president in 2000, co-chair of its public awareness committee in 2005-2006 and champion of Building Minnesota, the blog, podcast and public radio series.

"It was his idea," said Sara Dick, a former Building Minnesota reporter who now works as a minister at Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas. "He was someone who would take an idea and run with it without ego."

Matt Johnson, principal of DLR Group, served with Schrock on an AIA committee. "Mike had this energy about him that always seemed to re-energize me and make me want to strive to be better," he said.

Born in Casselton, N.D., Schrock earned a bachelor of arts from Goshen College (Goshen, Ind.) and bachelor of architecture at North Dakota State University (Fargo, N.D.).

Chris Steller, a Minneapolis freelance journalist, worked with Schrock at Cuningham Architects for five years in the 1990s. He called Schrock "engaging" and interested in "people, ideas and city stuff." The pair played on the company soccer team together.

"[Schrock's] family came along to a game, his boys and wife all with red hair at least as I think of them now," Steller said in an e-mail. "A comment he made that day stuck in my head. They had just been to Disneyland or some family vacation, and he told me that while there his boy had taken his hand silently, spontaneously, without thinking, like a kid does. And Mike said -- in way that was simultaneously sentimental and realistic and spoke to me about what fatherhood is -- that he treasured that moment because his son was old enough that that was probably about the last time he would do that.

"There's something tragic, just completely wrong, about a caring architect like Mike dying due to skimpy public design. He was an alert guy, upright when he walked, but focused too, probably focused on where he was going, what he had to do that day. I can just see Mike taking his long strides at 6:30 in the morning. I imagine he gave a thought to how crappy it was to let the sidewalk die on one side of the street then confidently went on his way," Steller said.

Schrock is survived by his wife, Erin Geiser, and two sons, Atlee and Haven, both of whom also chose to study at Goshen College, a "college of the liberal arts and sciences rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition."

Schrock was an active member of Faith Mennonite Church, located in the Seward neighborhood in south Minneapolis. According to the church's website, a memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Luther Seminary of the Incarnation in the Olson Campus Center, 1490 Fulham Street, St. Paul.


In 2007, I interviewed Schrock at Twin Lakes Elementary School in Elk River for a Building Minnesota podcast on the subject of sustainable design. You can listen to that podcast here.

“LEED drives a lot of the design,” Schrock said at the time. “There’s so much decided before you start your building. I think that’s really confining for a lot of architects, but I really like it.”

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Anonymous said...

Thank you Todd for your thoughtful reflection on Michael's professional life. His work in the architectural community for the past 27 years and the many people he met through his work brought him great satisfaction. It is with much regret that Michael leaves so many projects unfinished and so many dreams incomplete. I invite everyone who knew and worked with Michael to his memorial service on Sunday March 2nd at Luther Seminary in St Paul at 3pm. Details can be found at faithmennonite.org. I would love to meet and thank Michael's friends for the good memories he was able to take with him.
With much appreciation to so many - Erin Geiser, wife of Michael

ron bratlie said...

Mike was a true gentleman and scholar. He was one of the few architects that I have met that truely believed in the high performance building concept. He did walk the talk. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Mike through the entire process of planning, designing, and constructing Twin Lakes Elementary. We also presented together about high performance buildings and Twin Lakes in particular. Mike and I recently enjoyed meeting and had lunch to discuss new projects that we could work on together. I am so glad we had that opportunity and I will remember his smile and excitement forever. My wife and I already miss him and his pepper grinders! Our love and prayers to his family. Ron and Gina Bratlie

Todd Melby said...

My most memorable day with Mike was last winter. He drove me up to Twin Lakes Elementary in Elk River. He proudly showed me the high-tech, green gadgets the school had. We also ambled out onto the roof and poked around in the heating ducts ... there was something special about those ducts. And since we both have college-age boys, we talked about our kids on the ride home. He mentioned how he wanted his youngest son to attend Goshen College, just like he had. It was very important to him. It was also clear he cared deeply about his children's future. It was wonderful to have had that afternoon with him. He'll be missed.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear of Mike's untimely death even though we have not had contact for probably 30 years. We were both in the same dorm floor in college one year and worked together at a camp for so-called delinquent boys one summer. Two things I'll always remember: 1) being pinned by Mike in 30 seconds (or less) in a wrestling club match and 2) tough teenage kids that were used to city lights but totally afraid of the dark. Mike would have them outside looking at the stars, recording the kind of day they had on a scale of 1-10, and pondering a reality beyond life on the streets. Randy Miller, GC 1975.

tom albrecht said...

Thank you for your recent publication regarding Mike Schrock. Mike's enthusiasm for life was contageous. He legacy goes beyond his professional life. Mike was always willing to be the ice breaker and rarely missed a chance to welcome an old friend,a visitor or a person new to this country. Mike cast a wide net and for that he was a example we can all learn from. We will miss him dearly. Tom Albrecht, VP of Bus.Dev. Hertzler Systems Inc.

Todd Melby said...

I attended Mike's funeral yesterday. It was clear from that event that his life touched on many facets, not just architecture: church, soccer at his son's school, family, church, family, church, family. It was touching.