National Library architect Gunārs Birkerts dies at 92

Take note – story published 6 years ago

Latvian American architect Gunārs Birkerts (American spelling: Gunnar Birkerts), notable in Latvia for designing the National Library, has died on August 15 at the age of 92.

According to data by the Latvian Culture Canon, Birkerts, born in 1925 in Riga, was the most famous and prolific Latvian architect whose projects include several universities, libraries and museums. Most of these buildings were constructed in the US where Birkerts spent most of his life and produced his most important work.

His best-known contribution to architecture in Latvia is the National Library building - often referred to as the Castle of Light - on the left bank of Daugava River.

News of his death were tweeted by his son Sven and confirmed to LTV by the National Library. 

Birkerts fled Latvia ahead of the advancing Russian army in 1943, during the second world war. He graduated from the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1949. The most active years of Birkerts' life were spent in the United States which was then the world hub of architecture.

Initially he worked for Perkins and Will, then for Eero Saarinen, and finally for Minoru Yamasaki before opening his own office in the Detroit suburbs.

Birkerts' designs include the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis (1968-1973), while the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York (1976-1980), and the University of Michigan Law Library Addition (1974-1981) were included in the 2007 American Institute of Architects list of the 150 most notable buildings constructed in the US.

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