Gunnar Birkerts, Latvian-born architect and educator, passed away on August 15, 2017, at the age of 92. A passionate advocate of a creative process he called "organic synthesis," he leaves behind dozens of built works over three continents and influenced hundreds of architectural students and colleagues through his inquiry-based process and dynamic interactions. Eric Hill and John Gallagher, in their AIA Guide to Detroit, said of Birkerts’ architecture: Each of his works seems to be approached as an opportunity to explore the essence of an architectural problem, resulting in a statement that often exceeds the immediate project. Born and raised in Latvia, Birkerts attended the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart before emigrating to the United States in 1949. His interest in the architecture of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, which he read about in journals at the U.S. Information Agency, led him to Detroit to seek work with Eero Saarinen. He worked in Saarinen’s office for several years and then with the office of Minoru Yamasaki, also based in Detroit, before co-founding the practice Birkerts and Straub in 1959. In 1963, he founded Birkerts and Associates, through which he designed more than forty buildings and major additions in the decades to follow.
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