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CAS Exclusive: Interview on "Elizabeth Scheu Close: A Life in Modern Architecture"

with author and scholar Jane King Hession
May 19, 2020

CAS produces original and engaging content relevant to Central Europe for our Austrian Studies Newsmagazine.

In this most recent Zoom video recording, author Jane King Hession discusses her new book, Elizabeth Scheu Close: A Life in Modern Architecture, with UMN History and Psychology major Olivia Rudek. It makes for a great story.

Elizabeth “Lisl” Scheu Close (1912-2011) was Minnesota’s first modern architect and the designer of more than 250 buildings in the state. Born in Vienna, Austria, she was among early professionally-trained women architects nationally and internationally. In 1938, with her husband Winston Close, Lisl co-founded the first practice in Minnesota dedicated to modern architecture. In addition to producing custom designs, she created numerous prefabricated house plans from which at least 10,000 residences were built. A trailblazer in her field, Lisl remains a role model for women in architecture today.

Hession curated an exhibit with the Goldstein Museum of Design, which is up at Rapson Hall through September 27.  CAS had planned a lovely public talk and tour with Hession, along with remarks by History emeritus professor Gary Cohen and Lisl's son Roy, but this was unfortunately cancelled due to the Covid crisis.

Nonetheless we are pleased to promote the book, available through the University of Minnesota Press.  It is a fascinating account of the life and career of Minnesota’s first modern architect.

hession book
One of few women who were practicing architects in the mid-twentieth century, Elizabeth “Lisl” Scheu Close left an indelible mark on Minnesota’s built landscape. This personal and professional biography also explores multiple aspects of modern architecture, including the use of new materials and technologies, the design of prefabricated houses, and the relationship between residential design and changing American lifestyles.