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Arts and Entertainment


Don Hisaka, an architect who made his mark on Northeast Ohio, dies
Don Hisaka is remembered as a master of serene space
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
Don Hisaka returned recently to visit B'nai Jeshurun Synagogue in Beachwood, one of the dozens of buildings he designed in Northeast Ohio in the 1960s and 1970s.
Courtesy of Vivian Goodman
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Architect Don Hisaka died last month at the age of 85. He built an international reputation over two decades designing dozens of buildings in Northeast Ohio. 

WKSU's Vivian Goodman interviewed Hisaka when he returned in 2011 for a Cleveland Artists Foundation celebration of his legacy, and here is an interview she did with him then.

A sunny, serene style

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Christopher Diehl interned for Hisaka. He comments on how the architect brings the outdoors inside.


Christopher Diehl interned for Hisaka. He comments on how the architect brings the outdoors inside.

Hisaka worked with art-collector Agnes Gund to meet her needs for a summer home in Peninsula. But it wasn’t easy.  Gund forbade him from cutting  down a single tree.


Hisaka worked with art-collector Agnes Gund to meet her needs for a summer home in Peninsula. But it wasn’t easy. Gund forbade him from cutting down a single tree.

Hisaka’s says he wanted  the sanctuary of the B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue in Beachwood to be serene and welcoming.


Hisaka’s says he wanted the sanctuary of the B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue in Beachwood to be serene and welcoming.

Jim Gibans, who worked with Hisaka, comments on one of his last projects in Cleveland. Gibans says Signature Square in Beachwood marked a departure for Hisaka, turning away from rectangles and squares to a freer style. After leaving Cleveland Hisaka became intrigued with postmodernism.


Jim Gibans, who worked with Hisaka, comments on one of his last projects in Cleveland. Gibans says Signature Square in Beachwood marked a departure for Hisaka, turning away from rectangles and squares to a freer style. After leaving Cleveland Hisaka became intrigued with postmodernism.

(Click image for larger view.)

Mr. Hisaka came to Cleveland in 1960, designing and renovating buildings for Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State and the Gund family.  He also designed Rocky River High School, B'Nai Jerushun, and even the U.S. Embassy in Guyana.

Hisaka was born in California and worked on his family's farm.  He was exiled to an internment camp during WWII.  After the war, he earned degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard.  He started Hisaka and Associates in the Cleveland Arcade in 1961.  After teaching at Harvard part-time starting in 1978, he moved there full-time in 1985.  He moved back to California in 1992 and retired about two years ago. 

An exhibition of his work, "Don Hisaka: The Cleveland Years," runs through March 17 at the Shaker Historical Society.
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