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Quick Q&A With Vess Ruhtenberg

On Oct. 4 at iMOCA, the local rockstar and architecture buff launched an exhibit of works by his grandfather Jan Ruhtenberg, a modernist designer. Here, a minimalist interview.

What inspired you to organize the exhibit?

I liken it to rock ’n’ roll. It’s one thing to have an uncle who played in a band in the ’60s. It’s another if he helped get the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. My grandfather played an important role in a cultural movement.

Your father was also an architect. Is modernism in your blood?

I’d like to believe so. My dad was in love with clean forms and long lines. Modernism isn’t better than the other styles. I just champion it because it’s the most misunderstood.

What’s your favorite building not designed by someone named Ruhtenberg?

Midway Gardens in Chicago, by Frank Lloyd Wright. It spent just 10 years on this planet, and there are only 25 photos of it. But if it were standing today, it would still be one of the most magnificent buildings in the world. 


Photo by Tony Valainis

This interview appeared in the October 2013 issue.