While working in the late 1940s as associate architects with Eliel Saarinen on Christ Lutheran Church (3244 34th Avenue South in Minneapolis), the Minneapolis firm, Hills Gilbertson Architects (James Hills and Victor Gilbertson, principals), was hired to design a new home for the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, formerly Lake Harriet Lutheran Church. Hills Gilbertson developed multiple design options, both “traditional” and “contemporary”, and the one ultimately built shows how their relationship with Saarinen influenced the final design.
In addition to the architecture, the design incorporated sculptures by noted artists Evelyn Raymond (on the building's exterior) and Paul Granlund, brick sculptures by Victor Gilbertson, stained glass by Conrad Pickel Studios of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and epoxy glass installations by Universal Studios of Winona, Minnesota. The church continued to develop in phases over the years, with additions designed by Gilbertson in the 1950s and 1960s, a sanctuary remodeling by him in the 1970s, an addition by SMSQ Architects in the 1990s, and an addition and renovation by Kodet Architects in 2014.
This mid-century modern masterpiece was inspired by, yet varies from, Christ Church Lutheran; and subsequent additions and renovations have kept the original design intent and spirit. Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is a highly visible yet underappreciated gem in southwest Minneapolis.