One of the Midwest’s most popular mountain bike parks is getting a new trail head facility next spring. Dakota County hired Locus earlier this year to design the Lebanon Hills West Trail Head building, which will be used year round by skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts in addition to Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists.
Two interlinking buildings will include restrooms, changing stalls and a picnic shelter. Construction has been underway for several weeks and is beginning to reveal the primary structural systems.
A forest of corten columns will soon support a roof 14 feet above the changing and shelter areas.
Laminated veneer lumber beams ready for placement above the columns.
Concrete masonry units contain the restroom while defining edges throughout the shelter. Twin Cities artist, Kerry Dikken
will be sandblasting the exterior surfaces with bicycle tread prints
Over 300 people gathered at the Minnesota Historical Society last Wednesday to remember Pearl Harbor on its 70th anniversary. Star Journal newspapers (reclaimed from Locus’ ceiling earlier this summer) set the stage for the evening’s ceremony.
The papers have since returned to the Gallery at Locus Architecture (GaLA) and continue to reveal new connections to history. For example, a Minneapolis resident recently saw her mother, Susan Pillsbury Snyder, on the front page of The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune (June 30, 1940) after being wed to Rowley Miller.
Every once in a while a potential client asks what makes us different from our competitors. That’s tough to answer; as creatives, our expertise is subjective. We believe we excel in creating experiences, using our clients’ passion and our expertise in a custom process. The feedback we get from potential clients who interview multiple architects suggests this approach is unique.
We believe in the power of communities, and we’re committed to making experiences that will bond them. That might be a congregation, a neighborhood, a business entity, or a family. Whatever the structure, there are extraordinary synergies when people bond. We support and make communities in our work life, in addition to the usual stuff; volunteering, coaching our kids’ teams, or being involved in our schools and churches. A few examples:
- We led a group of University of Minnesota students to post-Hurricane-Katrina East Biloxi to document damages and build a park shelter; Paul continues to organize design+build seminars (RAW) with the intention of teaching young designers how to build exquisite structures for under (design) served communities both in the U.S. and abroad.
- We pulled together Twin Cities cyclists to make tread-print-art to raise money for Full Cycle. Rather than simply raising funds to provide them with a check (which we did), we designed the process of making tread prints to allow Full Cycle to use the process in the future (also available on YouTube).
- We curate an ongoing free lecture series, 2X2, that pairs visionary people who collaborate to make incredible things happen. We also host an open gallery and architectural reading room in our office.
Interacting with people inspires us. If we can’t enhance the experience of being in a community, using spaces we create, we’re only making nice structures. Any architect should be able to do that, even if many don’t.
Architects love to prioritize project-type experience over just about every other skill (“We’ve done over fifty _______.”). Project-type expertise is only one facet of a successful project. When it comes to church design, for instance, we often have less project-type experience than our competitors. Even so, we usually make it to the face-to-face interview stage. Potential clients, even if they don’t ultimately hire us, want to meet us after reading more about our approach to design. It must stand apart. Our expertise includes:
- Sustainability. It’s in our DNA. While most firms jumped on the green bandwagon in the mid 2000s, we started our practice with a philosophical belief in sustainable practices the day we opened the door in 1995. It was the right thing to do then, it still is.
- Listening. We’re experts at it, which allows us to use the Missions of our clients to tailor their living and working spaces (and even design processes). We have no interest in shoehorning our clients into our preconceived notions. One size does not fit all.
- Design. Our teamwork with our clients has led to multiple publications, AIA MN Honor Awards, and an IFRAA National Award. Our first two religious commissions resulted in two local and one national design awards.
- Construction. With over 25 years of experience of hands-on construction in both residential and commercial projects, we know how to problem-solve alongside with contractors. We also host open houses to share our research with the public.
We feel our expertise is broad, and usually unmatched.
Every project is different. When a client asks us how we plan to approach theirs, we usually tell them we won’t know until we get to know them better. Our listening skills are invaluable here. Ferreting out the ethos of an organization allows us to craft a 3-dimensional story – their story. We involve our clients in that process as a way of creating ownership and excitement about what they are doing. When we leave them with a building, they own it both financially and emotionally. We harness their energy to make forms that speak to them.
After wrapping up a church a few years back, Victoria Safford, the minister, took time to write us a note: “we’ve held four services now in the new sanctuary here, and every week it is as if we are entering the spaces here for the first time, so beautiful are the movements of light, the textures of steel, concrete and glass, the seemingly permeable boundaries between inside and outside. The congregation is in a state of amazement and gratitude – as am I. This work you have done here is beautiful. Thank you.”
Our clients’ passion fuels the energy. Our expertise provides credibility. The collaborative process harmonizes the two.
“It’s starting to get cold”
Come 3:15 each day, as the sun angle sharpens across the office floor, we notice a significant drop in comfort at Locus headquarters in Southwest Minneapolis. Keep in mind that the temp outside has barely crept above 20 these last few days and, as the passing boys with sleds in tow would attest, winter weather is in full swing here in Minnesota.
The consistency of our experience – cold feet precisely at 3:15 – has been so dramatic that I thought I’d check to see if the data correlates. The chart below, from Architectural Graphic Standards, shows that, at our latitude, the heat gain between 3pm and 4pm through south facing windows decreases from 122 units to 3 units. That’s right – there’s 40 times more heat coming into our office at 3pm than there is one hour later at 4pm. Apparently, our feet don’t lie. While we know through our training that this should be the case, the first-hand knowledge gained each day in the office is far more significant and lasting.
The above quote comes from St. Paul native Richard Thill who was on board the USS Ward when it encountered a Japanese submarine on December 7, 1941. The ship fired and sank the sub one hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Thill will be sharing his experience in a discussion at the Minnesota History Center along side a documentary film of the incident.
Newspapers from this era were recently uncovered from the ceiling of Locus’ new office and will be displayed as part of the remembrance event on December 7th from 7 – 8:30 pm. Tickets can be in purchased in advance by phone (651-259-3015) or online.
US Battleship Arizona July 14, 1940
It’s at about this time every year that two events happen in my life. First, I walk into the Locus office and, for the umpteenth time of the season, proclaim “we’re still heating with wood at home.”
For about seven or eight years we’ve been going deep into winter each year, heating our house only by the solar gain through our south facing windows and the fires in our Gemini heater. Each night we jam the firebox full of wood and turn the damper down so we get a long, thorough burn. In the morning, we uncover the embers to bring the fire back to life again and, depending on the conditions outside, we might have a fire burning for nearly two months straight. We enjoy the freedom of providing our own heat, the changes in how we use the peripheral spaces in our home and the exercise we get from cutting, chopping and hauling each log.
The added connection we feel to the natural environment outside as the temperature inside moves up and down the thermometer is tangible. Clients Mike and Linda are taking this to another extreme, planning to heat all winter long only with their masonry heater and wood gleaned from their own land. “We like our bedroom a little colder” they said. Mike thought he’d much prefer living in a yurt, where he could experience the full impact of the natural environment. Their house, soon to be completed in SE Minnesota, was designed to take full advantage of their site, while providing an experience where environmental factors play a stronger role in their daily activities.
Back at my home in Minneapolis, the second event closely trails the first as we buckle under and turn on the boiler heat. The enthusiasm that keeps our fireplace running through the fall is equally strong when the flame goes out some time in December. Literally burnt out from the constant attention, we might only have one or two “ambiance” fires for the remainder of the winter. Conviction gives way to comfort, however, as the warmth of that last working fire fades and we begin paying for “invisible energy”, the memory of each BTU carried into the house, stick by stick, remains.
Auditioning for a spot on a North Minneapolis lot, SAM 1.5 donned a wide array of fashions, showing that the Sustainable, Attainable, Modern home can easily be outfitted to suit different tastes.
The photo shoot started with a more classical look than past public appearances (see WCCO’s Real Estate Round up for 3/30/11) and ended with custom artistry.
SAM’s white lap siding adorned by a traditional Doric column.
Transitioning to a natural state, vines climbed through SAM’s sun-screening trellis.
Green is good, but some like it red hot (and with shutters).
Happy as a clam in a custom painted ensemble.
We moved to South Minneapolis this year, so while we no longer can claim the NE Arts District as our home, we are continuing First Thursdays Free Design at Locus.
First Thursday of every month, get an hour of Locus’ time. We’ll help you improve your life, make your kids smarter, select books for you, connect the dots, arrange your marriage, or simply shoot the bull. Or we can just play ping pong.
Your business. Your home. Your church. Your garage. Your kid’s cardboard fort. We can make it better.
1) Sign up in advance. 1 architect; 1 hour; 5:00, 6:15, or 7:30.
2) Come to our studio 708 W. 40th Street (at Lyndale Ave. S.).
3) Bring in no less than four bottles of interesting beer or cider. We share, but you leave leftovers!
4) Bring in all the relevant background information so we can be helpful.
Email to get your time slot. [email protected] Your life will be better for it, and who doesn’t want a better life?
A big thanks to all who visited the Gallery at Locus Architecture (GaLA) for the recent exhibition of 1940 newspapers. We had a tremendous turnout and even made WCCO’s evening news (story begins after the commercial).
The papers will continue to be on display through the end of the year, but some will soon be traveling to the Minnesota Historical Society as part of The 70 Years Project. The project launches on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor (December 7th, 2011) with a display of select newspapers, as well as, a documentary film titled First Shot: The Secret Submarine Attack on Pearl Harbor. Please visit the link above for tickets and additional information.
The other day I was chatting with a friend who launched into the argument about global warming being part of a large natural cycle. You’ve heard it. ”The planet has been in an abnormally cool pattern for several thousand years.” ”There is no scientific proof that humans are even capable of impacting earth temperatures. ”The leftist media is trying to stir up panic about climate so liberals can justify expensive untested environmental legislation to a terrified population.” And so on.
“OK,” I said, “Let’s say you’re right. Can we agree the atmosphere likely has more CO2 than it did 150 years ago? Doesn’t scientific evidence suggest the earth’s temperature is rising? Do we agree the cost of energy is likely to increase?” We were OK so far. I went on, “Let’s leave the issue of global warming aside; can we agree reducing energy consumption is a good idea?” We did agree.
I offer the following strategies for talking about energy and global warming with your pals that don’t share your philosophy. People justify saving energy however they want – altruism or pocketbook. Who cares as long as they do it?
Environmental liberal (AKA “utopian treehugger”)
Saving energy isn’t about the short sided desire of saving money, it’s about taking responsibility for the forests, the landscape, the oceans, endangered species, and stopping the scourges of acid rain and pollution. We need to stop the destruction, no matter the investment, because the planet will no longer support us if we don’t. Nature will continue, we won’t.
Fiscal conservative (AKA “greedy narcissist”)
Saving energy makes financial sense, and can produce win-win scenarios. Look at companies like WalMart. They are reducing energy by putting skylights in their stores and eliminating light fixtures. Guess what? They found out daylight makes people buy more stuff. They are saving energy and selling more product, which is good for their stock holders. Energy costs money. More energy saved, more dividends.
Progressive (AKA “tax and spender”)
Saving energy will save millions of lives. If we continue to consume as much energy as we have since the beginning of the industrial revolution, it is an indisputable fact that the earth’s ice sheets will melt and oceans will rise. Coastal areas, which hold the vast majority of the world’s population will be inundated with water, leading to population and economic collapse across all nations and markets. We need to invest in renewable power so that we can move towards a “green” economy without any carbon-based fuels. It’s the only responsible strategy.
Deeply religious (AKA “lockstep zealot”)
Saving energy is a way of being better stewards for God’s creation. There are several ways reduction in energy use can stimulate the mission of a religious organization. One, more energy saved, more funds available for doing God’s work. Two, reduction in consumption can slow the rate of natural resource depletion, which protects the interests of future generations. Three, caring for the planet is fundamentally our responsibility and what God entrusted us to do. We are the planet’s caretakers.
Social Liberal (AKA “socialist dreamer”)
You cannot have a comprehensive platform of human rights without environmental sustainability, and you can’t have environmental sustainability without energy reduction. If we’re consuming more energy per capita than people do in other parts of the world, we’re taking more than our fair share. We either need to increase our ability to produce clean energy for everyone or reduce our consumption such that it is more in line with other nations. Refusal to do so is passive genocide.
Social Conservative (AKA “intolerant”)
Saving energy will allow us to stop exporting American dollars to support the corrupt oil economies of the Middle East and South America. We’d be better off investing locally to help support American jobs. That could take the form of investing in high-paying renewable technologies in conjunction with finding ways to reduce consumption of carbon fuels such that our use is more in line with domestic energy production. Keep it home.
A friend of mine references the thinking of Mary Parker Follett when suggesting we think more about how we can achieve “integration” (I win, you win) when looking for solutions to tough issues, instead of resorting to the typical oppositional tactics modeled by elected officials – domination (I win, you lose) or compromise (I lose, you lose). It’s probably not always possible, but a worthy goal.
Hit that light switch on your way out, will ya?
InformationInsulationArt – Locus Architecture OPEN; Friday, November 4, 5-9 p.m.
Gallery at Locus Architecture (GaLA); 708 W. 40th St.; Minneapolis
Think of your earliest memory or an influential moment in your life. You probably recall the weather, others who were with you, the smell, the lighting. The impact of a memory often allows us to recall other less important details by association.
Architecture, likewise, is memorable when experiential.
We create spaces by harnessing the energy of our clients’ stories. Our greatest successes have little to do with specifying faucets and floor stains, a requisite skill of any able designer. We craft built environments worthy of memory, a higher standard most aren’t designed to meet.
When we began tearing down the ceiling in our office, exposing 1939 & 1940 newspaper (insulation), we unknowingly stumbled upon thousands of “lost” stories. Slapdash demolition halted immediately while we carefully separated full-page layouts of “Oomph” (Ann Sheridan) from front page Extras printed hours after Paris fell to Nazi invaders.
The quick solution – bundle it all up for the recycling truck – would have saved us hundreds of hours of time. We could have, but our loss would have been yours as well. No Mystery of Nylon Hosiery or the forgotten knowledge that Minneapolitan’s Grandmother Sold Idea Of Wearing Whiskers to ‘Abe’ Lincoln or even the fact that Hitler is Afraid of the U.S. Wayzata Woman Declares.
Paging through old spreads, we were surprised by the gossip journalism above the fold on page one (Wendy Plays ‘Burglar and Lady’ Role), the lack of political correctness (U.S. Protests Jap Bombings), or the amount of patronizing articles (Only Woman to hold this Man-Size Job). Perhaps the Ol’ Days were Good, but this was the “Greatest Generation”. Wouldn’t you think they would have taken their news more seriously than we?
At Locus, we see value in the things others overlook; a nuance in a play of light, a possible efficiency in a daily ritual, or the graphic beauty of dusty old insulation. It’s all about the story, the memory.
How will we ever forget the process of finding, separating, reading, and reusing these newspapers? We’re excited to share that experience with you. Take a stack home and find your own treasures. If the spaces you occupy aren’t worthy of the effort, let us help you change that.
Every now and then I’m reminded that we should never take lightly the words we speak and the ideas we project. Yesterday I received an email from a friend referring to words that were spoken seven or eight years ago. Erika says it best:
Something you once said in an interview related to the NowHaus has always stayed with me. I don’t remember the exact quote, but you theorized that living in a well-designed home makes kids smarter or more creative. Your theory is powerfully supported in the new biography of Steve Jobs (see the opening paragraphs of today’s NYT review):
Cheers to you and other architects who build environments that help us “think different!”
Even though we have no concrete proof that we’re right, we’re still convinced that smart, creative environments for our children help them develop into smart, creative adults. Apparently, we’re not alone.
NetZero House – The Journey: V1
The experience of building your own home stretches beyond the process itself to the sometimes rich relationships that are created along the way. In their search for someone to mill wood from their land for some of the interior features of their house, Mike and Linda came across Tom, “one of those self-reliant, hard-working, resourceful fellows who will probably die on his feet.” Linda continues, “he lives in St Charles and has a little sawmill on the homesite of his farm on the next ridge beyond ours. We took a chunk of boxelder to him to mill to see if it might be a possibility for the “chunk of wood” for the bathroom vanity…..It was a fun couple hours.”
Throughout the project so far, Mike and Linda have intentionally developed relationships with local suppliers and contractors, helping to make their transition from city to country living. I suspect that if Linda’s description of where farmer Tom lives – “on the next ridge beyond ours” – is any indication, she’s already made the switch.
What was Minnesota life like in 1940?
See it, touch it, and READ ALL ABOUT IT in this exhibition of original Minneapolis Times Tribune and Star Journal newspapers recovered from the ceiling of the former Triangle Printing building.
Join us November 4th (5 – 9 pm) for music, eats and notable 1940s factoids such as Milk in City Cut to 10 Cents a Quart.
708 West 40th Street (Minneapolis)
Take home the issue you can’t live without!
Self-propelled traffic rallied through Lyndale last Sunday as part of Open Streets Minneapolis. With the avenue closed to cars, plenty of feet, bicycle tires, and even some paws were able to leave their mark at Locus (nearly forty were tallied throughout the event). Individual treads were recorded on paper and are currently displayed in the storefront. Roll, stroll, or bike by our new digs at 40th & Lyndale to get a closer look at this artful take on pedestrian locomotion.
The Southwest Journal recently commemorated Locus’ homecoming to Southwest Minneapolis; check out the web only article before dropping by Sunday’s open house.
Actually, it wasn’t our idea, but it sounded like a good reason to have people over.
LOCUS OPEN HOUSE
Sunday, June 12, 10am-2pm
708 West 40th St., Minneapolis
Our new shop is located at the corner of 40th St. and Lyndale Avenue S., just behind Larue’s
Ride your bike, strap on blades, or put on running shoes and say “Sayonara!” to the bike lane. You’ll be in the middle of Lyndale without the fear of someone chucking a Bud Light bottle at your head from the passenger side window of a Chevy Tahoe. From Loring Car Wash to Locus, for four hours, Lyndale will be self-propelled traffic only.
More info on Open Streets Minneapolis
If you come by to see the new digs, we’ll help you make an Art Tread Print, suitable for framing.
They lived in brick buildings with no insulation, or almost no insulation. In some cases, the shrewd forward-thinking contractor would layer some old newspaper up between the roof rafters. “Hey, I bet I could reuse this, and darn it if it wouldn’t keep my place warmer too!”
Their ingenuity, our time capsule. Taking down the ceiling in our new office, we found some old gems above the fibrous acoustical tile.
The “new” war map of England.
Mussolini kicking back and having fun, Minnesota style. He is taking life easier!
They don’t illustrate like this in the Star Tribune nowadays.
Before it was pacifist hip to have a sign in your window, cowardly stating “Locus Bans Guns in These Premises,” there were tough citizens well equipped to take care of business. Know what I’m sayin’?
Gosh, those were the days.
We are taking spring cleaning seriously this year; packing has begun at our current location to make way for our new office in South Minneapolis (708 W. 40th St). We’ll be sad to leave our friends at the Northrup King Building, but are looking forward to having a storefront again. Stay tuned for an open house date…
Aside from today’s snow flurries, glimmers of spring have begun popping up throughout central Minnesota. Along with the violets and tulips comes a new article about the award-winning White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church sanctuary addition:http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/175407.shtml
In case the fresh powder has got you baffled, this shot is a reminder of how green it will soon be…
Look out Hollywood; only 5 months old and s a m has already made an on-air debut. Listen to what WCCO has to say about our Sustainable, Attainable, Modern triplets:
A FEW SPOTS LEFT – Hear the journey of Mike Larsen and Linda Nelson, two high school sweethearts who, after 26 years of marriage, are transitioning from Minneapolis city life to 60 acres of restored prairie on bluffs overlooking the Whitewater River in Southeastern Minnesota. They’ll share their transformative experience navigating everything from material reclamation centers, composting toilet manuals, energy cost spreadsheets and meetings with off-the-grid gurus. February 26th, 7:30 pm.
Suggested donation of $10 at the door, we’ll provide the beverages and snacks.
RSVP to [email protected] this week to let us know you’re coming.
Buildings consume over 40% of the energy and 75% of the electricity produced in the U.S. According to Architecture 2030, buildings are responsible for nearly half of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. So what? Well, that’s 140% more than all transportation combined and 240% more than industry. Although you rarely hear it over the shouting of Hummer bashing and BP picketing; architects, engineers, contractors, and real estate owners should be at the forefront of energy reduction measures.
Last Thursday, President Obama spoke in Pennsylvania about investing in building technology and energy efficiency. “Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to combat pollution and create jobs right here in America.”
That’s probably true, but I couldn’t find much in that day’s press about curbing use. In our office, we have a hunch that people are willing to be energy efficient in their buying patterns – CFL or LED light bulbs, Energy Star appliances, etc. – but not as willing to change behavior. People want their lifestyle (that SUV) but they want to feel good about it (Presto! A hybrid SUV!).
A recent article in The New Yorker (December 20/27, 2010), The Efficiency Dilemma, makes that hunch seem optimistic. The central argument of the article is based on the Jevons Paradox, which states – more or less – that energy efficiency does NOT equate to overall reductions in consumption; actually, the reverse is true.
In the past 30 years, appliances have become more efficient, but they tend to be larger and we have more of them. Air conditioners run on less electricity, but we use more of them to cool billions of square feet. Houses are better insulated, but they’ve doubled in size.
Can buildings be more energy efficient and space efficient? Can we learn to live differently, smaller? We think so and help clients at least consider this option. We work through space analyses with them, and often find they don’t want as much space as they thought. Yes, there is a time, usually when adult wage earners are between the ages of 30 and 40, when families may be pinched for room, but it’s usually bookended by years when people don’t need to spread out.
Efficiency is part of the energy puzzle, but unless we look at behavior simultaneously, efficiency victories will be hollow. People still make cracks about Jimmy Carter putting on a sweater in the White House in 1977, but why? Can we have the cake and eat it too? What’s your plan to save energy where you live?
I got a postcard last night, advertising a home that will be on the Twin Cities Charade, I mean Parade, of Homes this spring. “Traditional on the outside, but features cutting-edge renewable energy and home management systems inside,” gunning for that unobjectionable bungalow meets farmhouse meets Craftsman story-and-a-half sweet spot. OMG, geothermal! I’ve heard that’s green! Striving for charm with lots of roof dormers and valleys for the snow to pile up.
What really caught my eye was the Apple iPhone Managed Homes seminar on the back (disclaimer: we’re almost an exclusive Mac shop here.) Get some apps and put that smart phone to work managing your home’s audio and video, security, lighting controls, and much more. I would like to know if I could get an iPhone to control the nightlight, integrated washlet, and heated seat on a TOTO Neorest toilet. Now that would be hands free.
Does anyone else see the irony of the increasing reach of technology brought to us by the same people that so sternly preached about the dangers of sedentary living and disposable culture in Wall-E?
What crucial job would you like your iPhone to tackle next?
Locus welcomes presenters Linda Nelson & Michael Larsen, private practice psychologist & continuous improvement leader, to speak about The House the Land Built.
Join us for the story of two high school sweethearts who, after 26 years of marriage, are transitioning from Minneapolis city life to 60 acres of restored prairie on bluffs overlooking the Whitewater River in Southeastern Minnesota. Locus clients Linda and Michael share their transformative experience navigating everything from material reclamation centers, composting toilet manuals, energy cost spreadsheets and meetings with off-the-grid gurus – seeking a low-impact life. They’ll explain how a transcendent connection to their land inspired it all.
We’ll have a dogeared copy of Humanure on hand if you’re brave enough to touch it.
2X2 No. 4
Saturday February 26, 2011, 7:30 pm
Locus Studio, 1500 Jackson St. NE, Suite 333, MInneapolis
Suggested donation $10, Refreshments provided