It might not be well known, but Minnesota is actually a hotbed for architecture by 20th- and 21st-century masters. Whether it's Frank Gehry's bendy-metal Weisman Art Museum, César Pelli's Wells Fargo Center and Minneapolis Central Library, or Frank Lloyd Wright's Lindholm service station (his only gas station) in Cloquet, pioneering work has been done by architects in Minnesota. Two lesser-known and low-key but significant buildings are Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and the IBM training facility in Rochester, done by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. In his short career (he died at age 51), Saarinen used curves, arches, and fluidly shaped structures to set the table for architecture in the second half of the 20th century and into this one. Saarinen designed all types of buildings during his prolific years of activity, including airports, hockey arenas, corporate campuses, churches, furniture, residences, and public art. He is perhaps best known for designing the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the graceful, 630-foot tall marvel that dominates the city's skyline, completed several years after his death. "Shaping the Future" is a complete retrospective of Saarinen's career with his drawings, a documentary film, and photos showing how widespread his work is. The Walker will feature furnishings, residences, and designs for churches and academic and corporate campuses. The MIA will present his designs for airports, memorials, embassies, and his early work in context of its modernist design collection. In conjunction with the exhibit, the Walker and Minneapolis Institute of Arts will host several lectures and classes. After-hours preview party is this Friday for $35 from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Walker Art Center (750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600). Susan Saarinen, the daughter of Eero Saarinen, discusses her father's work this Sunday at 2 p.m. for $5 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Sept. 13-Jan. 4, 2008