Monday, March 31, 2008

Ralph Rapson dies
The Star Tribune is reporting that architect Ralph Rapson has died at age 93. I'll always remember the Rapson retrospective at the Weisman Art Museum and Minneapolis Institute of the Arts several year ago. It really opened my eyes to the greatness of Rapson's designs and drawings. From furniture to buildings to rethinking the modern city, Rapson leaves an amazing body of work behind. In Minneapolis, Rapson designed the original Guthrie Theater (1963), Rarig Center (1971) and Riverside Plaza (1973). His most famous furniture design was the Rapid Rapson Rocker, which is "available for a limited time" at Ralph Rapson and Associates. (Photo courtesy of Rapson Architects, Inc.)

Stories about Ralph Rapson and other resources:
Ralph Rapson quotes:
  • "I really don't talk well without a pencil in my hand." (Star Tribune video, 2003)
  • "I hope they carry me out on my drawing board. I'd like them to pile it up with models ... and put me out on the river or lake or some place and set fire [to it] in the old Viking fashion." (Star Tribune video, 2003)
  • On the Walker Art Center's destruction of the original Guthrie: "I’m very disturbed and disappointed that an organization such as the Walker, which obviously has been a great force in the art world, would be so negative about what really is a very significant building." (Minnesota magazine, 2002)
What's your favorite Rapson building? What was Rapson's contribution to modern architecture? Share your thoughts in our "Comments" section.


Greg Maxam, AIA said...

Ralph unquestionably had an enormous positive impact on architecture, especially in this region. His creations are noteworthy, and he worked alongside most of the greats of modern architecture, but his greatest influence may have been in his long tenure as Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. He guided and inspired many of today's noteworthy architects. His sense of optimism and humor inhabited both his life and his work. He was an exemplary architect, a great man, and a good friend, and he will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Well, the cedar square west was god awful modern angst producing architecture that seemed to say "CEMENT" and "despair" at the
same time. They used to call it the "slum in the sky".

The Guthrie Theater was nice, I think throwing it away was a mistake. An historic theater like that, tossed aside
after a handful of decades... sad.

Mark said...

Good roundup, thank you.

Riverside Plaza may be ugly, but it's a beautiful kind of ugly. That small collection of towers has more character than most of downtown, and we're lucky to have its hulking mass on our skyline.

Eric Olson said...

Huge respect for Ralph. I don't have a single favorite but his smaller homes really do it for me. As a child I lived up the way from the Pillsbury house and would walk into the yard and look into the home while it was (at the time) empty. It was simply magical for a 12 year old.