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Finnish-American architect's work to be featured

An exhibition of Finnish-American architect David Salmela's hand-made models and large-scale photographs of his finished buildings opens today (Wednesday) at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

In 2005 the University of Minnesota Press published a monograph of the work of this Finnish-American Architect titled Salmela, Architect.

The book provides a beautiful demonstration of the modernist and traditional influences that have guided the architect's work. Salmela has a special relationship to the New York Mills area -- he is a self-taught architect who graduated from Sebeka High School and now makes his home in Duluth.

"Although his inspirations are many, Salmela is quick to acknowledge his creative debt to Alvar Aalto. There is a kind of kinship between the two (Aalto was a Finn and Salmela, an American Finn), and a similarity in culture and environment shared by Minnesota and Finland. But what resonates most with Salmela is the way Aalto's mature work exhibited a regional response, a humanizing of hard-edged modernism with a craftsmanlike use of materials." -- Vernon Mays

The following is from a review of the University of Minnesota monograph of Mr. Salmela's work.: "Salmela, Architect provides an in-depth look at one of America's leading "critical regionalist" architects. Salmela's buildings resolve a central question of our time: how to balance the various extreme positions that characterize contemporary architecture and culture. Salmela accomplishes this by juxtaposing opposites: modernist and traditional forms, open and cellular plans, large and small scales, familiar elements used in unfamiliar ways.

His projects range from a small stand-alone sauna to commercial spaces visited by thousands of people, and his buildings, mostly situated in the upper Midwest, have become nationally and internationally known.

Salmela, Architect showcases twenty-six completed buildings and 16 current projects in lavish color photographs and architectural drawings, enabling readers to get a full sense of the practicality, ethnicity, and playfulness apparent in David Salmela's work. Architecture critic Thomas Fisher explores Salmela's propensity to draw from regional roots as he creates designs particular to individual places and cultures yet with universal appeal.

Fisher illuminates this synchronicity with projects as prominent as the Gooseberry Falls Visitors Center and Wild Rice Restaurant as well as residential projects including the acclaimed Jackson Meadow community and photographer Jim Brandenburg's Ravenwood Studio.