Leonard Parker FAIA, founder of one of Minneapolis's most significant architecture practices and a well-loved professor at the University of Minnesota, has passed away at after a long illness at 88. A disciple of Eero Saarinen, Leonard worked on the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Christ Church Lutheran, before launching The Leonard Parker Associates (TLPA) in 1958 after Saarinen's death with $8,000 he borrowed from an aunt.
Notable projects designed by TLPA include: the Law School at the University of Minnesota (with one of the earliest green roofs 1978), the Minneapolis Convention Center (1989 & 2002), an addition to the Minneapolis Institute of Art with Kenzo Tange (1974), the State of Washington's Labor & Industries Building (1992), Minnesota Public Radio (1979), the Minnesota Judicial Center (1998), the Totino Fine Arts Northwestern College (1974), the South Korea Embassy in Ottawa (1996), and the US Embassy in Santiago Chile (1994).
TLPA merged with Durrant in 2004, and then was spun off as Parker Design International in 2006.
At the University of Minnesota where he taught over several decades, the Leonard Parker Fellowship was established in 2009 as permanent endowment to support professional degree students in architecture.
from a 2005 profile:
When Leonard Parker was 14, a buddy mentioned a building he wanted to check out-in Racine, 45 miles away from their hometown of Milwaukee. “I didn't care about the building,” says Parker. “But I thought riding a bike to Racine sounded good!”
The boys started out at 4 a.m.; six hours later they arrived at the Johnson Wax headquarters, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. “I'd never seen a building like that,” says Parker. “It was incredible! The building engineer showed us around, and he spoke of Mr. Wright with such deference. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to design buildings like this and have people talk about you with such respect!' I made up my mind right there-I was going to be an architect.”