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Once described as a “diminutive woman in a hard hat,” Elizabeth “Lisl” Scheu Close (1912–2011) was not only Minnesota’s first modern architect, she was a trailblazer in her field. During a 50-year career she designed hospitals, laboratories, and more than 250 handsome, efficient houses in Minnesota and beyond. She also created numerous designs for prefabricated houses, and more than 10,000 dwellings were produced from her plans.

Born in Vienna, Austria, to a politically and socially well-connected family, Close was raised in an early modern house designed by architect Adolf Loos. According to instructor Jane King Hession, the house attracted visitors from around the world, and this influenced Close’s decision to become an architect.

When it became necessary for Close to leave Vienna as the Nazis rose to power, a family friend arranged her safe passage to America and her education at MIT. In 1936, she moved to Minnesota where she, with husband Winston Close, established the state’s first architecture practice dedicated to modern design in 1938.

In addition to exploring her formative years in Vienna and design work in Minnesota, Hession will place Close’s life and career within the historical context of other women in the field. The course includes a walking tour of University Grove, a neighborhood in Falcon Heights where 15 houses designed by Close stand.

Recommended: Jane King Hession, Elizabeth Scheu Close: A Life in Modern Architecture (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).

Jane King Hession, M.Arch, University of Minnesota, is an architectural historian. In addition to her recent book on Close, she is coauthor of John H. Howe, Architect: From Taliesin Apprentice to Master of Organic Design (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years (Gibbs Smith, 2007), and Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design. (Afton Historical Society Press, 1999).

          Offered in cooperation with the Goldstein Museum of Design.

Cancellations are subject to a 10 percent processing fee if received five or fewer working days before the program start. Refunds are not granted if you cancel on or after the first day of the program. Notice may be emailed to ccapsreg@umn.edu.

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Section Title
Elizabeth Scheu Close: Minnesota’s First Modern Architect
Short Course
1:00PM to 3:00PM
Sep 14, 2020 to Sep 21, 2020
Twin Cities
Continuing Education & Conference Center
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Course Fee(s)
Course fee non-credit $95.00
Section Details

Number of Meetings:           Two (9/14, 9/21/20)

Course Location:                 Continuing Education and Conference Center

Phone: 612-625-2900
Email: ccapsreg@umn.edu
Web: ccaps.umn.edu/learninglife
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