Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Twin Cities Modernism
Many Twin Cities neighborhoods are graced with charming bungalows, sturdy four squares, the occasional Queen Anne, and lots of 3-4 story brick commercial buildings. Yet interspersed within this traditional post-war fare are a surprising number of modernist buildings in a bunch of different neighborhoods. While some may disagree, I love having an incongruent building pop up in a neighborhood. Especially one that makes liberal use of smooth limestone and concrete, geometric forms, and cool fonts. Here in Hamline-Midway, we have the AMAZING Church of St. Columba. With its minaret-like belltower, its mix of curving and angular masonry, and yes, the excellent font used to identify the building--it is an arresting site in the middle of the neighborhood.
There's plenty of modern residential architecture in the Twin Cities too. Frank Lloyd Wright makes a couple of appearances in Minneapolis with the Willey House in Prospect Park and the Neils house on Cedar Lake. Then there is the whole University Grove neighborhood just outside of St. Paul in Falcon Heights, with dozens of modernist homes, many designed by prominent Minnesotan architects. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota recently commissioned a map entitled "Minnesota Modernism" that features select buildings from around the state built between 1945 and 1970. If you can get your hands on one, this map is a great way to scout out that venerable mid-century modern aesthetic.