Gunnar Birkerts

Gunnar Birkerts

Gunnar Birkerts (born 1925 in Riga, Latvia) is a prominent American architect, who, for most of his career, was based in southeastern Michigan. Some of his designs include the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, Marquette Plaza in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, and the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.


Gunnar Birkerts was raised in Latvia but fled ahead of the advancing Russian army toward the end of the Second World War. He graduated from the Technische Hochschule, Stuttgart, Germany, in 1949. Birkerts came to the United States and worked initially for Perkins and Will, then for Eero Saarinen, and finally for Minoru Yamasaki before opening his own office in the Detroit suburbs.

Birkerts initially practiced in the partnership Birkerts and Staub; after that partnership broke up the firm became Gunnar Birkerts and Associates. The firm received Honor Awards for its projects from the (national) American Institute of Architects in 1962, 1970, 1973, as well as numerous awards from the Michigan Society of Architects and the local chapter.

Birkerts joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1959 and taught until 1990.

Gunnar Birkerts was selected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1970, and a Fellow of the Latvian Architect Association in 1971. He is the recipient of numerous individual awards including a 1971 fellowship from the Graham Foundation, the Gold Medal of the Michigan Society of Architects in 1980, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1981, and the 1993 Michigan Artist of the Year award. He received an honorary doctorate from Riga Technical University in 1990, the Order of the Three Stars from the Republic of Latvia in 1995 and the Great Medal of the Latvian Academy of Sciences in 2000.

Birkerts now maintains an architectural office in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

His son is noted literary critic Sven Birkerts.


* Birkerts, Gunnar, "Process and Expression in Architectural Form", University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK 1994; ISBN 0806126426

* Birkerts, Gunnar, "Subterranean Urban Systems", Industrial Development Division-Institute of Science and Technology, University of Michigan 1974

* Kaiser, Kay, "The Architecture of Gunnar Birkerts", American Institute of Architects Press, Washington DC 1989; ISBN 1558350519

* Martin, William, "Gunnar Birkerts and Associates" (Yukio Futagawa, editor and photographer), A.D.A. Edita (GA Architect), Tokyo 1982

* Gunnar Birkerts & Associates, "IBM Information Systems Center, Sterling Forest, N.Y., 1972; Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1973" (Yukio Futagawa, editor and photographer), A.D.A. EDITA (GA Architecture), Tokyo 1974

External links

* [ Gunnar Birkerts Architects, Inc.]
* [ "Gunnar Birkerts papers 1930-2002"] , at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

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