Ralph Rapson dies


by Todd Melby, 3/31/08 • The Star Tribune is reporting that architect Ralph Rapson has died at age 93. I’ll always remember the Rapson retrospective at the Weisman Art Museum and Minneapolis Institute of the Arts several year ago. It really opened my eyes to the greatness of Rapson’s designs and drawings. From furniture to buildings to rethinking the modern city, Rapson leaves an amazing body of work behind. In Minneapolis, Rapson designed the original Guthrie Theater (1963), Rarig Center (1971) and Riverside Plaza (1973). His most famous furniture design was the Rapid Rapson Rocker, which is “available for a limited time” at Ralph Rapson and Associates.

Stories about Ralph Rapson and other resources:

* Burl Gilyard’s 2002 profile for Minnesota magazine
* Star Tribune obituary
* Star Tribune 2003 video interview
* Ralph Rapson Wikipedia entry
* MPR interview with son Rip Rapson
* Afton Society Historical Press, publishers of two Rapson-related books (“Ralph Rapson: Sketches and Drawings from Around the World” and “Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design”)
* Marianne Comb’s 2005 profile on MPR
* Midwest Home article, May 2007
* Linda Mack’s story on the Guthrie Theatre design
* Architecture Week article on Rapson Cube, August 2007

Ralph Rapson quotes:

* “I really don’t talk well without a pencil in my hand.” (Star Tribune video, 2003)

* “I hope they carry me out on my drawing board. I’d like them to pile it up with models … and put me out on the river or lake or some place and set fire [to it] in the old Viking fashion.” (Star Tribune video, 2003)

* On the Walker Art Center’s destruction of the original Guthrie: “I’m very disturbed and disappointed that an organization such as the Walker, which obviously has been a great force in the art world, would be so negative about what really is a very significant building.” (Minnesota magazine, 2002)