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College of Design

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Herbert B. Polachek

University of Minnesota - B.Arch '56

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?
Learning how to think for myself, taking charge in team situations when leadership is needed, and working as a team member in joint situations.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?
Robert Poliss was patient, understanding, and inspirational when needed. Walter Virett had a spirit of panache and vitality. Fred Koepper's vast knowledge of architecture history inspired me to travel and see the world. As a result I have visited 67 countries on 6 continents observing life, history, and architecture, as well as taking thousands of photographs. Rob Ceray inspired me to improve and work harder at design.

What is your favorite memory from your studio days?
Working long days and nights to meet project deadlines, advice and criticism by fellow classmates in the absence of instructors, and several visiting lecturers such as Siefred Gideon, Oscar Storonov, Bucky Fuller, and others. A Grade 5 design sketch problem in '66 to design a reviewing stand for the city of Brooklyn, New York, after winning the 1955 World Series against the Yankees. We were a group of 12 students that came up with a platform suspended by colorful helium-filled balloons on twelve 24x30" illustration boards connected with a large 4' high, 18' wide mural. We all got A's.

Please identify one (or more) memorable design project that you worked on while a student at the School of Architecture.
During Grade 2, a union resort on Pelican Lake with a group of 4 students working together for a month. We had great cooperation and spirit, and there was travel involved to the site and research. Also, thesis project in 1955-1956 while recently married and I worked in a cramped apartment, as well as school. A real project I worked on was a funeral home in Winona for my friends parents funeral home.

What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?
I was in awe with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Groupius, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames, and Alexander Girard. Hugh Ferris for his black charcoal rendered and Lou Angelivis for his tempera color renderings. I was impressed by firms that contributed to school with literature, magazines, and samples. Our library was a valuable resource for background history and inspiration. 

Cite an example (be specific) that illustrates how you used the education you received at the School of Architecture to positively impact (or better) your community, city, nation or the world.
Over the years I have served on the planning commission and board of zoning appeals in Golden Valley, served on an advisory committee for a northeastern Wisconsin Methodist Church, been a member of AIA and president of NE Wisconsin District AIA, lectured students at AIA meetings in said meetings and various technical schools, and was a member of the board of trustees for Caloreftes in Green Bay and Golden Valley. I also lectured students at the University of Minnesota department of Interior Design from 1974 to 1985.

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