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Ralph Rapson is the most influential Minnesota architect of the twentieth century. Architect, artist, furniture designer, and teacher, he has played a leading role in the development and practice of modern architecture and design, both nationally and internationally. Beginning in the late 1930s, at Cranbrook under Eliel Saarinen, Rapson became famous for his rapid, exquisite renderings and his creative reexamination of traditional furniture and housing forms. He also began a career-long involvement in architectural competitions and experimental programs that helped shape the future of modernism in America. In postwar Europe, his designs for nine U.S. embassy projects established a new international model for the American embassy abroad.
In 1954 Rapson assumed leadership of the University of Minnesotas School of Architecture, beginning a thirty-year tenure that would transform not only the school itself but the standing of the design profession within the state.
Over sixty years and against the tides and assaults of architectural fads and fashion, Ralph Rapson has maintained a consistency and commitment to the basic and best principles of modern architecture, unswervingly and without distraction. He has never lost sight of the larger questions of architectureits potential for community betterment and enrichment of the human experience.