New Architecture Book & Exhibition Celebrates Minnesota Modernism

Jane King Hession’s book, “Elizabeth Scheu Close: A Life in Modern Architecture,” will be available for purchase April 2020, while the exhibition can be enjoyed through April 26.
Hendrik and Marri Oskam House (1962) in Edina. Photo by William B. Olexy.

“Lisl Close was born to modern architecture,” explains architectural historian and author Jane King Hession. The daughter of culturally savvy parents, Elizabeth (Lisl) Scheu grew up in Vienna in a strikingly modern home designed by Adolf Loos, one that helped lead to the development of European Modernism after World War I.

In her new book, Elizabeth Scheu Close: A Life in Modern Architecture, to be published by University of Minnesota Press in April, Hession argues that when the architect opened her practice in Minneapolis with her husband Winston Close in 1938, she was the first modern architect in Minnesota. “Close and Scheu Architects was also the first firm in the state dedicated to modern architecture,” Hession adds.

As head of her business, Lisl Close designed more than 250 distinctive residences, as well as clinics, hospitals, and commercial buildings. Hession’s book and an exhibition in the University of Minnesota’s Rapson Hall (on display through April 26) celebrate Close as an advocate of modern design and her role in bringing Modernism to Minnesota.

“You’ll find Close-designed houses all over the Twin Cities being enjoyed by a new generation of owners,” Hession says. “Lisl was a trailblazer as a woman in architecture and influenced generations of architects through her example.”

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