Recently in *click*itecture Category


Welcome to the first edition of *click*itecture. Each week, I'll be wrapping up some of the most notable news items I've stumbled across that aren't on the radar of some of the major blogs. These may be related to either end of the Mississippi, cross-disciplinary work, student or competition based info, or anything that may suit my fancy. The main stories will be in the headline and then at the end of the column there will be "Quick Clicks".


The top story is that the world has lost the A in HGA with the passing of Bruce Abrahamson. While I have never worked for HGA, I know many people who have, and continue to that have directly felt the influence of Bruce's devotion to his craft and he will be sorely missed.

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Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. Commemorates Bruce A. Abrahamson, FAIA

Minneapolis, MN - Bruce A. Abrahamson, FAIA, approached architecture with a passion that infused his entire life.
As a partner with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA), Bruce often wore an engaging grin as he led his teammates through creative debates that resulted in some of Minnesota's most enduring modern architecture. He was adept at articulating his thoughts on architecture as he became known as the great arbiter among HGA's three original partners-Richard Hammel, Curt Green, and himself.

"Bruce had a passion for having a good time," said Dan Avchen, FAIA, CEO of HGA. "His modesty belied his extraordinary talent and vision that proved inspiring to so many others. He truly enjoyed life."

Bruce was one of the leading figures in Minnesota architecture. He helped elevate HGA from a small boutique studio into one of the largest architecture firms in Minnesota with a national reputation for design innovation and client service.

While others his age were slowing down, Bruce gained momentum with increasing energy.
"He left a legacy for design excellence, collaboration and integrity that continues to motivate HGA today," Avchen continued.

Early Years. Bruce was destined to be an architect since early childhood. He grew up in north Minneapolis during the Great Depression, learning to draw and paint under the guidance of his father, Clifford, who worked for the Minneapolis Park Board as a crafts supervisor and for General Mills in engineering.

"My father fueled the fire in me that ignited my devotion and commitment to a life in the individual arts," Bruce said, reflecting on his career.

After graduating from North High School in Minneapolis, Bruce joined the U.S. Naval Air Force cadet training camp during the Second World War before enrolling at the University of Minnesota to study industrial design. He soon discovered the architecture program and never looked back.

Receiving a Bachelor of Architecture with distinction in 1949, Bruce headed to Harvard University Graduate School of Design on a scholarship, where he studied under modernist icon Walter Gropius.

"Gropius's teaching remains today as a guide in my philosophy and approach to architecture," Bruce said.
When he completed his Master of Architecture in 1951, Bruce won the prestigious Rotch Traveling Fellowship to Europe in 1952, where he experienced centuries-old architecture meeting a modernist new order on the postwar landscape. After his travels, he returned to the United States to accept a job with Skidmore Owings & Merrill in Chicago in 1953. His time in Chicago proved formative as he met another modernist hero, Mies van der Rohe, whose less-is-more philosophy was redefining American architecture. Abrahamson was drawn to the master.

"While working with the academic elite, I was invited to Mies's house and, with other aspiring architects, sat at his feet with my eyes watering from his cigar smoke, knowing I was in Mecca," Bruce recalled. "At 25, I was ready to sell my soul and all I had for a Barcelona chair. I believed simplicity was holiness and less just had to be more."

Joining Hammel and Green. Gaining valuable experience in Chicago, Bruce nonetheless looked for opportunities to return to Minnesota, where he would achieve his greatest professional success. In 1954, Curt Green recruited Bruce to join a new architecture firm in St. Paul that was already having an impact locally.

"Hammel and Green was a dynamic young office with design as its motivation," Bruce said. "They were just getting started and what appealed to me was the opportunity to help shape it and grow with it."

With his large-firm experience and design talents, Bruce soon became a major force at Hammel and Green. He positioned himself as a Design Principal with high standards, and he spoke with a strong voice regarding critical business decisions. His considerable contributions gained recognition when the growing firm officially became Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc., in 1964.

Known as the "troika," Richard Hammel, Curt Green and Bruce shared a common philosophy that good architecture results from a multi-disciplined team approach. They did not believe in the "star" system as they pledged never to build one name over the other. They rotated roles so the design staff could benefit from the viewpoints of the three leaders.

Additionally, Bruce loved teaching and mentoring young talent as an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture from 1957 to 1977. Many of his students have since gone on to lead Minnesota architecture firms.

Design Recognition. During his career, HGA won more than 60 design awards, including three national AIA Honor Awards for Architecture, four Progressive Architecture Design Awards, more than 30 AIA Minnesota Honor Awards, two HUD Design Awards, and two national/international design competition first-place awards. HGA was also the first recipient of the prestigious AIA Minnesota Firm Award for outstanding contribution to design and professional service in 1992.

Bruce was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1972. And in 1998, he received Minnesota's highest architecture honor, the AIA Minnesota Gold Medal, for his lifelong commitment to the profession he loved.

A tour of Minnesota's architectural landscape reveals Bruce's award-winning accomplishments, from the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, to the Piper Tower in downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Clinic of Psychiatry and Neurology in Golden Valley, the Siebens Education Building at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and the downtown St. Paul Skyway system.

New Directions. After transferring leadership from HGA in 1995, Bruce continued to pursue his passion for design and his love for family. He remained an avid traveler with his wife, Victoria Abrahamson. He spent time with his family, including four daughters, one son, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Bruce was famously active before physical activity became fashionable. He started long-distance running 45 years ago before running became a craze. He also was a skilled downhill skier and cyclist. He skied slopes from Montana to the Austrian Alps. He began cycling when he was well into his 60s, biking in Montana, the Canadian Rockies and Italy.

His design enthusiasm extended beyond the office, as well. He designed three houses for himself and Victoria and two other friends in Big Sky, Montana, as well as several private houses around the Minneapolis Chain-of-Lakes. Bruce never lost his childhood passion for drawing. He sketched beautiful pen-and-ink renderings from his travels, from intense details to entire urban vistas such as Istanbul across the Bosporus Strait.

"We were always happiest when creating something together," Victoria said. "His discipline for his art was part of his DNA. Bruce was incredibly open to new experiences. It all came so naturally to him. He felt lucky in life."


Clifton Burt and Kate Bingaman-Burt formerly of Starkville, MS have picked up and moved the Public Design Center up to Portland where Kate has taken up as an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University. Both have very exciting news to report!

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Clifton has a piece of art up on the 20x200 website which is a great online experience explained by gallery (physical and internetial) owner Jen Bekman as such: (limited editions x low prices) + the internet = art for everyone. They introduce two new pieces a week: one photo and one work on paper. Each image is available in three sizes. The smallest size is reprinted in the largest batch – an edition of 200 – and sold at the lowest price – $20. Hence the name 20x200. (200x20 just didn't sound as good.) We also offer bigger prints for bolder collectors - medium-sized editions of 20 for $200, and large-sized editions of 2 generally for $2000 (some of the large sized editions will actually be original pieces of art and prices will vary a bit). Every single print is delivered with a certificate of authenticity numbered by the artist.


by Clifton Burt

In April of 2007, John Maeda wrote a haiku entitled think-make-think and posted it to his blog. I think that it went relatively unnoticed. Over the next few months, that haiku often found its way to the forefront of my mind. When our studio, the Public Design Center, acquired the remnants of a discarded arrow sign, it was immediately clear to me that think-make-think was the perfect piece for the sign due to the haiku's small size and its potency.

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Not to be outdone, Kate just signed a book deal with Princeton Press to be published in March 2010 and will bring you 650 of her daily drawings in book form! with color! Check out her Etsy shop for a preview.


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The KRob Competion is a worldwide competition of renderings (hand, digital, mixed, or otherwise) of an architectural nature. Entries can be elevations, sections, or perspectives, and can be conceptual or final renderings; exploration and innovation in unique techniques are encouraged. My friend Ozayr leads a trip to Turkey during the May Term at the University of Minnesota's College of Design and had a student reach the finals. Take the time to check out the renderings on the pages. There are some pretty astounding pieces. I tend to lean heavily towards the hand rendering, but the Best in Category - Professional Digital/Mixed by Aleksander (Olek) Novak-Zemplinski really caught my eye. Especially the idea that it's rendering "Compton". Other entries that I particularly enjoyed were J. Arthur Liu's perpectively flattened digital landscape/map, Hyung Jin Choi, and Christopher Aykanian.


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