dancing with architecture: bismarck, north dakota

When we landed at 9:30 pm, is was still bright as day out, allowing me to stroll about town until 10:30 sampling the local sites. Folks were hooting and hollering up and down the streets, which had me a bit concerned (what in the world is going on?). Turned out to be Pokemon Go! And just as the sun fell late, it also rose early, allowing me to take 6 to 7 am strolls into various parts of town. That, compounded with an early evening side trip to see Marcel Breuer's monastery at the University of Mary, afforded me a good view of the local architecture.

There ain't much to Bismarck. Founded in 1872, the town has about 65,000 residents with about twice that in the "metro" area. The town was named after the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the hope of attracting German immigrants. The three key structures in and near town are the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the state capitol, and the aforementioned monastery. 

The monastery, which Breuer referred to as his jewel on the prairie, is rather remarkable.  If you believe the nuns (and why wouldn't you?), they were sitting around the table thinking about who to invite to design their new digs on the east side of town when someone said: "Let's ask Marcel Breuer!" Breuer was an early Bauhaus Modernist overshadowed by his mentor Walter Gropius. His design, realized in 1959, is, by my eyes, a combo of International Style, Googie, and Brutalism.

The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is an Art Deco masterpiece designed in 1940 by William Kurke of Fargo, the same designer of the state capitol. I could see it's spire from my hotel window, which is what drew me to it.

The North Dakota Capitol building sits on a hill overlooking Bismarck. It's unique because it's the only state capitol that's a skyscraper and that's asymmetric (both chambers meet in the same side of the building).

And then there's the usual collection of stuff you'd see in Everytown, USA. But with bunnies.

Toured a water treatment plant in an Art Deco building.

No comments:

Post a Comment