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Duane (Dewey) Thorbeck papers

Identifier: N312

Scope and Contents

[Descriptive statement of the materials in the collection. Typically more informative and in greater detail than given in the abstract.]


  • 1955 - 2005

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Duane “Dewey” Thorbeck was born and raised in Bagley, Minnesota. He graduated from high school in 1953 and started his undergraduate degree at Augsburg College and then applied to the University of Minnesota School of Architecture, a five year degree program (1955-1960). While a student, he worked for McEnary and Krafft, and then worked part time in the Thorshov and Cerny. Graduate school at Yale University followed (1960-1961), earned the Rome Prize granting him two years at the American Academy in Rome, Italy (1962-1964).

Thorbeck returned to Minnesota and the Cerny office where he would serve as the design chief for their newly formed St. paul office. At Cerny, Thorbeck designed the Weyerhaeuser Chapel at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and the Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Demontreville in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

In 1968 Thorbeck with Peter Seitz, Roger Martin, Al French, Steve Kahne formed the firm InterDesign. A firm based on the interdisciplinary nature of design. One of their early commissions would take nearly 10 years to complete, The Minnesota Zoological Gardens in Apple Valley, Minnesota. This was the first open air zoo in the Northern Hemisphere. This design won the Progressive Architecture Magazine Design Award, and the AIA Minnesota Design Award in 1978. In 1980 the group parted and Thorbeck and Lambert Architects was established. Purina Farms in St. Louis, Missouri and Savage Municipal Center in Savage, Minnesota are the notable projects from those four years the firm existed. Purina Farms won the AIA Minnesota Design Award in 1986. Thorbeck Architects established in 1984 continues to the present. Projects include: · International Wolf Center in Ely, MN; Penn State University Agricultural Science and Industry Facility in State College, PA; Agricultural Teaching and Equine Center at University of MN Crookston; Milton Hershey School Animal Center (unbuilt) in Hershey, PA; Eastside Heritage Park in St. Paul, MN; Minneapolis College of Art and Design Studio Additions in Minneapolis; Woodbury Central Park and Library in Woodbury, MN; Teddy Bear Park and Washington Square Park in Stillwater, MN; and Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center at Fort Snelling State Park in Minneapolis. Currently he is designing the Norway House Innovation + Culture Center in Minneapolis, MN, on a block on Franklin Avenue that includes the Norwegian American Lutheran Church, celebrating historic, current, and future connections between Norway and the USA with a construction start in fall 2021. Throughout his entire career, Thorbeck has taught in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (now College of Design) at the University of Minnesota in a part-time capacity. He founded Center for Rural Design at the University of Minnesota in 1997 (a joint venture of the College of Design and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences) “to bring the problem-solving process of design to rural issues and work with rural communities throughout the state”. That center was dis-banded in 2016 and the Center’s papers are housed at the University Archives. He has continued his work at the University of Minnesota emeritus adjunct professor of architecture working as a Research Fellow in the Minnesota Design Center in the College of Design. His work there centers on rural design as a new design discipline; the connections between urban and rural issues; global warming, climate change, and rising sea levels; sustainable rural systems including rural community design; indigenous community design with economic and social connections; urban agriculture; linking human, animal, and environmental systems; identifying and preserving rural character and rural architectural history; and Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems determined by UN-FAO. Thorbeck served as Deputy Director of the organizing committee for the creation of the first World Rural Development Committee (WRDC) that will be managed by the World Green Design Organization (WGDO) - an organization established in 2010 by China and the European Union. The WRDC was intended to upgrade the academic standard and international cooperation of rural design worldwide to deal with world cultural diversity, preserve and promote human agricultural legacy, but never realized. Publications: Book - Rural Design: A new Design Discipline (Routledge 2012), Chinese version in 2018 Book - Architecture and Agriculture: A Rural Design Guide (Routledge 2017) Book - Agricultural Landscapes: Seeing Rural through Design (Routledge 2019) Chapter - Rural design: connecting urban and rural futures through rural design, in Balanced Urban Development (New York: Springer 2015)

Articles and interviews in national and international architectural magazines and websites including: Arquitetura E Arte in Portugal; The Rise of Rural Design – Impact Design Hub; Rural Design: Establishing the Research Foundation for a New Design Discipline in paper for ARCC/EAAE (2010) with John Troughton of Australia; and an article for the AIA Minnesota ENTRY on-line publication on Rural Design Connecting Urban and Rural Futures (2021). Exhibits: Architect’s Travel Sketches: Recording Natural and Human Landscapes, U of MN College of Design Library (2009) and AIA MN Gallery (2010) Rural Design Traveling Exhibit, University of Minnesota, Crookston (2012), AIA MN Convention (2012), University of Minnesota, Morris (2013) Guest Curator for Rural Design Exhibit sponsored by the Goldstein Museum of Design (2013) Patents: Emergency shelter utilizing cardboard that can be folded up, stored, and shipped to a place where needed. Several units could be linked together for larger shelters. Honors and Awards: Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA) Fellow, American Academy in Rome (FAAR) Buckman Fellowship in Philanthropy at the U of MN Over 25 local and national design awards for buildings and landscapes that he has designed. Appointed Vice Director of the World Rural Development Committee of the World Green Design Organization in 2015 Professional and Community Service: Co-founder and first president of Walker Art Center Design Team that later evolved into the AIA Minnesota Design Team. Past president and member, AIA Minnesota Member, Governor’s Task Force on State Buildings Past president and member, Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce

Modern Masters Interview Transcript (2017) Dewey Thorbeck, CV Dewey Thorbeck Papers AIA Minnesota, Awards


9 box (9 drawings boxes; job files; presentation boards and rendering)

Language of Materials



This collection contains drawings, job files, presentation boards, and project summaries for the firms InterDesign, Thorbeck and Lambert, and Thorbeck Architects.
Duane (Dewey) Thorbeck papers
K Pearl McClintock, Cheryll Fong
May 21, 2021
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Northwest Architectural Archives Collecting Area