Skyway visionary dies

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June 26, 2006 // UPDATED 2:08 pm – April 26, 2007
By: Michelle Bruch
Michelle Bruch

Skyway designer Edward Frank Baker, age 80, died Thursday, June 15 in Minneapolis.

Baker formerly co-owned the Skyway News and was recognized as designer of the first Minneapolis skyway out of the Northstar building. Baker is also noted for jointly planning and designing skyways at the IDS Tower.

Baker spoke to the Skyway News in 2002 from his Florida residence and said that the skyway concept began as an elevated fast food court connecting the Northwestern Bank building, the Baker block and Marquette Bank over the intersection of Marquette Avenue and 7th Street. He ultimately planned 16 skyways to incorporate into Downtown buildings.

“Before the skyways, second-floor space wasn’t too desirable,” Baker said. “So much of it was pawn shops, watch and eyeglass repair, and sewing and seamstress shops.”

Frank was born May 24, 1926 in Chicago. He moved to Minneapolis in 1932 and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. He later enrolled in the University of Minnesota School of Architecture in 1946, following two years of service in the U.S. Navy.

After graduation in 1950, Baker worked for Larson & McLaren Architects. He registered as an Architect in 1955, and formed the Edward F. Baker Associates.

“His great joy was launching projects from pen and pencil on an architect’s pad to concrete and steel realities enhancing the skyline of Minneapolis and its suburbs,” stated his memorial announcement. “He shared a love of music with [his wife] Karen and they seldom missed a concert these past 25 years while in Minneapolis, when not traveling … He never said no to the young people who wanted to get his advice about a career in architecture or business.”

Baker served on many advisory boards, including the Hennepin Center for the Arts, the Nicollet Mall Advisory Committee, Skyway Advisory Committee and the Downtown Council Board.

“I consider the skyway system as a network, rather than as individual bridges,” Baker said in 2002. “People can live Downtown and also be connected with it.”