Today, construction crews are working on a student housing project on the campus of Glen Oaks Community College, but it was 50 years ago that construction began on the campuses main building, under the direction of Latvian architect Gunnar Birkerts.
To celebrate the 50 years of the main building, Dr. Irene Elksnis-Geisler, director of the colleges tutoring and testing center, has photographed the building to depict the boldness in the college’s architecture. The photos are on exhibit in the E. J. Shaheen Library.
Students, faculty and staff are invited to a “Greet and Learn” session on Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the library to view the exhibit and enjoy a Latvian cake and learn about Latvian architecture and culture.“
“Modern Latvian architecture melds traditional Latvian culture with post-modernism. Birkerts work has been described as bold and unadorned” said Elksnis-Geisler, who herself is of Latvian heritage. “This is about history, and how we fit into the history of this community as we talk about moving into the next stage — a modern day look and feel for the college.”
Gunnar Birkets was born and raised in Latvia during the country’s brief period of independence. He fled Latvia due to the advancing Russian army toward the end of the Second World War. Latvia’s symbols, folklore and literature have shaped his artistic voice. For him, cultural heritage was even more precious because of the loss of Latvia’s independence. His latest work is the National Library of Latvia, home of Latvia’s wisdom and learning, the eminent Castle of Light, inspired by Latvian folklore, which hosted the headquarters of the Latvian Presidency in the Council of the European Union in 2015, and the reception for Vice President Biden in 2016.