Carl O. Graffunder

Mound, Minnesota


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Graffunder, Carl O. Esteemed Minnesota Architect, Carl O. Graffunder, age 94, died Tuesday, August 27, after a brief illness with pneumonia. A longtime resident of Mound, he enjoyed life with his beloved wife of 56 years, Mariedawn Graffunder, in the A-frame house that he designed on the shores of upper Lake Minnetonka. Noted as a modernist architect, he taught at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (now the College of Design) from 1948 to 1986, under the leadership of former dean Ralph Rapson. In addition to teaching, he ran his business Graffunder, Nagle and Associates, later becoming Graffunder Associates. While in practice he designed over 130 residences, mainly in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota area. A Graffunder house typically featured simple forms, open plans, lots of light and natural materials. He made extensive use of glass and outdoor living spaces to bring the beauty of nature into the home, and knew how to achieve liveability and economy for the client. He also designed numerous churches, schools, libraries, civic and commercial buildings mostly in Minnesota. His work won diverse awards such as: the Governor's Award for Energy Design, 1982; the "Reggie" Award for Housing Design, 1984; AIA Award for Design of Hibbing Public Library, 1955; AIA Honor Award for Lake Washburn Residence, 1960. His work was featured in many publications. He retired from the University as Professor Emeritus in 1986, and received the AIA Fellowship Award for architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and society. Born in 1919 in Rock Island, Illinois, Graffunder and his family moved to St. Paul, then Hibbing, Minnesota where he attended public school. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree, with Distinction, from the University of Minnesota in 1942. Upon graduation he entered the Navy and worked as a naval architect, studying at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and repairing ships at the Bremerton Navy Yard during WWII. He also married his first wife, Marguerite Koontz Graffunder, in 1942, with whom he eventually had four children. After the war he studied under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and received his Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University in 1948. From 146 to 1947 he was chief draftsman for Antonin Raymond, regarded as the father of modern architecture in Japan, in New York City. Returning to Minnesota in 1948, Graffunder became a design critic for the School of Architecture, and set up his business. The University of Minnesota sent him to help establish the School of Architecture at the University of Seoul, Korea in 1956. Graffunder married Mariedawn Legien Teeter in 1957, after the tragic death of his first wife. Graffunder was also preceded in death by his brothers, Bill, Walter and Ralph; his sister, Irma Dale; his son, Kurt and his daughter, Susan Bouchez. He is survived by his wife, Mariedawn; his son, Peter; his daughter, Sybil Graffunder; his grandchildren, Antonin and Nicole Bouchez, Adam, Abbie, David, and Jerry Graffunder and five great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held September 14, 2:00 pm at the First Unitarian Society, 900 Mount Curve Ave, Mpls. Memorials may be directed to the University of Minnesota College of Design, or to the donor's choice.
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.

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With condolences to the Graffunder family, and with gratitude for the mark Carl Graffunder made in my life. I grew up in a home he designed in the mid-1950's for my parents in Stillwater, MN overlooking the St. Croix River. It was featured in Better Homes and Gardens in 1958 and was a masterpiece of beauty, function, and playfulness--perfect for a growing family of 4 kids, complete with a fire pole! I have always been grateful for the opportunity I had to live in such a beautiful, inventive...

Mariedawn and family, I am speaking for my family and we offer our condolences to all of you. Carl was such a sweet man and I enjoyed his company as I did all of you. Longtime neighbor and friend SueAnn (Lassen) Ruel and thoughts from John, Lesley and Jeremy

dear Marie and Syble we are so grateful to have known Carl for the last five years of his life. I enjoyed keeping some of hishome care. we will miss him to. always Merry Peterson.

We have shared so many memories with you both over the years. Carl will indeed be missed by us all. Sending you love and prayers.

Dear Graffunder Family,

I am so sorry to learn of the passing of Carl Graffunder – a true Minnesota design icon. He designed a house for my grandparents (Paul and Pat Blake) and their growing family in the early 1950s. My parents purchased it in the 1980s, and my husband and I just bought it from them this summer, making my 2-yr-old daughter the 4th generation to inhabit our beloved home.

Any number of adjectives can be used to aptly describe the house's architecture:...