5.2.07

Guthrie Theater (1962-2007)

Destruction of Old Guthrie Theater
Photo by: Paytonc
I didn't get time to write much about my recent short trip to Minneapolis last month. I did, however, want to write about disappointed I am that they ended up tearing down the old Guthrie Theater. It's beyond my comprehension that a building that some architecture historians said was one of the 500 most important buildings in America in 1996 would be knocked down just ten years later.

To me, this really shows that we are entering into a time when a lot of great modern architecture is in danger. They aren't quite old enough to be considered historical by the preservation people. The Guthrie, for example, was built in 1962, which means it was just five years short of the fifty years that a building generally needs to be called historic. Additionally, a lot of people don't see anything important about the modern style itself. A few years ago when I was talking about the need to save the Guthrie, my father-in-law commented that it was just a glass and steel box. I realize that there is probably some greater meaning here about modern architecture's failure to connect to the masses or something, but still.

Ralph Rapson and Associates built the Guthrie in 1962. Rapson held his practice in Minneapolis and was head of the University of Minnesota Architecture School. Before that he also ran the New Bauhaus in Chicago and had studied under Eliel Saarinen. His two most important buildings were in Minneapolis. The first was the Guthrie, the second Cedar-Riverside housing complex.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Unfortunately, one of those buildings is now gone. He also designed the US embassies in Sweden and Denmark.

To me this is an important reminder that we (architecture and design students or enthusiasts) need to stay on top of this kind of stuff. The current endangered building in Boston: City Hall. But more on that later.
Boston, Massachusetts

4 comments:

Ryan 3:41 PM  

I totally agree. Except I'm not sure that the reason most people don't see it as a special building as any failure of the modernists to connect, for two reasons. One is that more and more people are becoming used to it all the time, just look at the impact of IKEA and Dwell Magazine, and even Apple. The second is that in the 1950s and 60s, buildings from 1880-1920 were being torn down almost as a habit. It wasn't until the late 60s and early 70s that Victorian architecture became so hallowed.

How come your word verifications always look like names of Polish towns?

onetenchelsea 4:25 PM  

The comment about the 50's and 60's is true, but at the same time, that was before modern preservation came into fashion. We're supposed to be more "civilized" now.

Ryan 2:11 AM  

In 2040, I'm sure we'll be mocked for not being enlightened to modern preservation ideas. meanwhile they'll be trying to knock down the new library and guthrie. I'll be waiting for that day with a sledge hammer.

Yeah your word verification looks like the 06 KC Royals infield still.

nathaniel hood 11:28 AM  

I just recently came across this - but I can't agree with you more. As a local, tearing down the original Guthire was criminal. Now, in its place, we have a monoculture of Kentucky Blue Grass (or ... "open space") in a City in desperate need of filling in the urban fabric with good buildings.

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