Symposium Recap


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The third annual Docomomo US National Symposium in Minnesota did not disappoint as two hundred attendees enjoyed three-plus days of sessions, tours and receptions. Guests for the first time were given the opportunity to choose a personal session track in addition to a variety of bus and walking tours. In total, sixteen sessions were held at University of Minnesota’s Rapson Hall and Marcel Breuer’s Saint John’s Abbey. Guests were also invited to join Docomomo US as we honored the winners of the second annual Modernism in America Awards at the top of Johnson and Burgee’s IDS Building.


The symposium kicked off Wednesday night with a reception at the University of Minnesota Weisman Museum designed by Frank Gehry. Despite the rain, guests enjoyed views of downtown Minneapolis and perusing the museum’s collection.

 Welcome to Minnesota!
Attendees enjoyed the Wiesman collection. Credit: Jessica Smith




Guests arrived on Thursday to Rapson Hall for a special day of "Living in Modernism", which featured panels including "Social Media and Advocacy," "Furniture," and "Industrial Heritage and Corporate Modernism." The final session of the day, “Growing up in Modernism,” included a very special roundtable discussion comprised of Toby Rapson, son of Ralph Rapson, Bob and Roy Close, sons of Winston and Lisl Close, and Monica and Christian Korab, wife and son of Balthazar Korab. The group shared their memories of life as they grew up with these influential figures of modernism.

 University of Minnesota's Rapson Hall. Credit: Jessica Smith.
Jack Pyburn during Docomomo ISC-T session on Schokbeton

Thursday’s tours offered an opportunity to explore Minneapolis’ significant Modern sites of worship that included Erich Mendelsohn's Mount Zion Temple and the Barry Byrne designed Saint Columbia Catholic Church. The "Modern Residential: Rapson Revisited" tour visited the modern community of University Grove, Riverside Plaza and other works designed by Ralph Rapson & Associates.

The day concluded with a reception at Christ Lutheran Church designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1949 and education wing addition designed by Eero Saarinen in 1962.

Interior of Christ Lutheran Church by Eliel Saarinen, 1949. Credit: Greg Frenzel


Ralph Rapson Tour. Credit: Liz Waytkus


Friday’s sessions included a range of topics that included "Adaptive Use," "Urban Landscapes," "Rural Modernism," and "Concrete and Schokbeton." The final session of the day took a look at "20 years of Docomomo US." delved into the events surrounding the creation and growth of Docomomo US over the past 20 years and current President Theodore Prudon and Vice President Bob Meckfessel shared what is in store as the organization embarks upon a new strategic plan for the future.

The tour "Urban Landscapes" visited M.Paul Friedberg’s Peavey Plaza and Loring Greenway and the "Corporate Modernism" tour saw the ING Building designed by Minoru Yamasaki and Associates and Philip Johnson and John Burgee's IDS Building and Crystal Court.

Federal Reserve Bank by Gunnar Birkerts, 1972. Credit: Elizabeth Almlie via Flickr
Loring Greenway designed by M. Paul Friedberg, 1975. Credit: Greg Frenzel



On Saturday, everyone journeyed out to Collegeville, Minnesota to spend the day at Marcel Breuer’s Saint John’s Abbey Church and University. The day’s emphasis was centered on concrete and events included tours of the Abbey Church, library, and famed Saint John’s pottery.

Bell Tower at Saint John's Abbey Church by Marcel Breuer
Interior of the library at Saint John's Abbey. Credit: Greg Frenzel




The symposium concluded on Sunday with a tour of Saarinen's rarely seen "Big Blue", IBM Rochester headquarters, downtown Rochester including the Mayo Clinc and a final stop to John Howe's Sankaku House. 

IBM Rochester Campus. Credit: Liz Waytkus
Sankaku House, John Howe, 1971. Credit: Liz Waytkus