the world's most visited architecture website
All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
  1. ArchDaily
  2. Gunnar Birkerts

Gunnar Birkerts

The Architect as Educator: Remembering Gunnar Birkerts

10:30 - 23 November, 2017

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.

Gunnar Birkerts in an undated photo. Image via The Republic Corning Fire Station, New York. Image© <a href=“https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brikerts_Corning_Fire_Station.jpg”>Unknown Wikimedia Author</a> licensed under <a href=“https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/“>CC BY 3.0</a> The Latvian National Library (2014). © <a href=“https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Riga_Petrikirche_Blick_vom_Turm_zur_Nationalbibliothek.JPG”>Wikimedia user Zairon</a> licensed under <a href=“https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/“>CC BY 4.0</a>. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia User Zairon ederal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, 1973, (now: Marquette Plaza), in its original configuration.. ImageVia <a href=“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marquette_Plaza.jpg”>Wikimedia Commons / Historic American Buildings Survey</a> licensed under <a href=“https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en“>CC0 1.0 (Public Domain)</a> + 4

Gunārs Birkerts, Architect of the World's Largest Library, Dies Aged 92

14:00 - 15 August, 2017

Gunārs Birkerts, the prolific Latvian-American architect best known for designing the "Castle of Light"—the world's largest library in Riga, Latvia—has died aged 92. The National Library, which was first conceived in 1988 and officially opened in 2014, has become among the most significant, and controversial, contemporary public buildings in Latvia.

Visiting Gunārs Birkerts's Latvian "Castle of Light"

00:00 - 22 August, 2014
Visiting Gunārs Birkerts's Latvian "Castle of Light", National Library of Latvia, Riga
National Library of Latvia, Riga

For an article featured in Blueprint Herbert Wright examines Riga's new National Library of Latvia, completed by 89-year-old Gunārs Birkerts this month. Located in one of Latvia's most historic urban settings, the library - locally known as the "Castle of Light" - challenges the city's recent history of Soviet public architecture with a contemporary, if not as equally monumental, cultural edifice. Initially conceived in 1988 now, over twenty five years later, the structure stands as a €163million testament to Latvia's rich academic and public cultural heritage. Earlier this year, "14,000 Latvians formed a 2km human chain to pass books from the old to new libraries." Wright's exploration of this seminal building on Birkert's œuvre is complemented by Janis Dripe's excellent photographic studies of what is certain to be one of the most important Eastern European buildings of this decade.