Home & Design | 2021 RAVE Awards

Twin Cities architects work with the local landscape in a way that elevates how all of us live. From considering the sensitivities of an established neighborhood to conceiving innovative solutions to bring in the sun, their contributions balance sustainability, style, and our special sense of place. For proof, look no further than the projects featured here, including a budget-friendly cabin-inspired addition and a cutting-edge new home complete with solar panels on the rooftop. Mpls.St.Paul Home & Design is proud to celebrate these inspiring designs—and the architects behind them—with the 18th annual Residential Architects Vision & Excellence (RAVE) Awards.

Sustainable Style

2021 Winner: Christian Dean Architecture

New Home, More Than 3,500 Square Feet | Minneapolis

Green Star–certified with a 4.9-kilowatt solar array on its rooftop, this infill home in Linden Hills features a narrower design than was allowed for the lot, in large part to maximize solar exposure and provide for passive solar strategies throughout the house. But the massing and sensitive street profile ensure the home doesn’t crowd adjacent properties, either—a common concern for new construction in the established neighborhood. “Although this home admirably uses sustainable materials and site mitigation, the future-proofing in its planning is perhaps the most impactful aspect of its ecological story,” one judge said. Another said, “The integration of the landscape and plan is exceptional,” noting a “great feeling of inside/outside space while also maintaining privacy in a tight setting.”

The Christian Dean Architecture Team: Christian Dean, AIA; Katy Dale /Builder: Synergy Builders with Metro Construction

Modern Family

2021 Winner: CityDeskStudio

New Home, 2,000–3,500 Square Feet | Golden Valley

Multigenerational living takes brilliant shape in this home built into a sloping corner lot in a 1960s neighborhood. A young family occupies the middle and upper levels, parents live on the lower level, and interaction between the two takes place in the sculptural center stair. Whereas the black monolith with the parents’ home—which also houses the garage—anchors the home into the hillside, the upper white-and-wood box maintains a look that’s comfortably scaled, with each of its two floors twisting off a central axis. “I love how the lower-level unit is tucked in the back, giving the appearance of a single-family residence from the street and how the architects have built in opportunities for the families to come together while maintaining a large degree of privacy,” one judge commented.

The Citydeskstudio Team: Ben Awes, AIA; Chris Bach

Light Touch

2021 Winner: CityDeskStudio

Remodel/Addition, More Than 3,500 Square Feet | North Oaks

Although the spaces in this 1962 home functioned well overall, they enjoyed only small amounts of sunlight. The architectural team believed letting in light would transform the home, so they brought glass to the entry on the lower level, then removed walls, added new windows, and extended existing windows down to the floor on the main level. But a 25-foot clear glass skylight along the home’s central spine made the most dramatic difference. One judge said, “The skylight is a brilliant intervention with a hidden nod toward sustainability, reducing the need for artificial light in the high-use workspaces of the kitchen.” Another said, “Using just a few… thoughtful changes, the architect achieved a beautiful transformation of light and space without expanding the footprint—a great example of using a minimum of means to get maximum impact.”

The CityDeskStudio Team: Ben Awes, AIA; Nate Dodge; Perri Kinsman // Interior Designer: April Mueller, Boom Huis // Builder: Telos

Cabin Fever

2021 Winner: Christian Dean Architecture

Remodel/Addition, Less Than 800 Square Feet | Minneapolis

Rather than purchase a second home up north, these Minneapolis homeowners wanted to create a cabin in the city where they could relax within a woodsy retreat every day. Transforming an old, poorly insulated sunroom into a cozy, livable space would pave the way. The architectural team ensured the modern “cabin” structure integrated with the original stucco home by simplifying the rest of the home’s exterior, primarily through removing extraneous gables and awnings. One judge said, “This is an extremely simple, budget-friendly addition, but there is a richness to its detailing that elevates it,… from the overscale baseboards to the variations-on-a-theme picture windows.” Said another, “Inside, the exposed framing and clean Scandinavian styling nail the cabin-in-the-woods vibe the owners were seeking.”

The Christian Dean Architects Team: Christian Dean, AIA; Jessica Harner, AIA // Builder: The Crown Construction Company

Fresh Angle

2021 Winner: CityDeskStudio

Kitchen | Golden Valley

No room in this 1989 home has ever been a complete rectangle—except for the kitchen. Whereas other rooms always included triangular features that created interesting, unexpected spaces, the center-of-the-home kitchen locked itself into a square with one access point and little visual connection to adjoining rooms. By thinking of the kitchen not as a separate space but as an opportunity to stitch all spaces together, the architectural team expanded its footprint beyond the original walls. The centerpiece island exemplifies that effort, with one foot in the adjacent entry atrium and another in the family room. “This kitchen embraces the eccentricities of 1970s and 1980s contemporary houses,” a judge said. “Rather than playing it safe … the cabinet detailing, use of a very late 20th-century mauve, and overall form are full of personality and fun.”

The CityDeskStudio Team: Ben Awes AIA, Chris Bach // Builder: Tim Helin

Character Study

2021 Winner: Rehkamp Larson

Remodel/Addition, 800–3,500 Square Feet | San Francisco

Part of a string of historic Italianate homes, this 1882 row house was built on a streetcar line in the Mission District, an area then considered a suburb of San Francisco. Although many of the neighborhood’s historic properties are being gutted and rebuilt with open interiors, the homeowners here wanted to maintain and enhance the home’s elegant character. The architectural team completely redesigned the kitchen using materials that fit seamlessly with the style of the home. Upstairs, they reworked the plan to create two beautiful bedroom suites. “This sensitive renovation is almost archaeological,” a judge said. “It honors the detailing and materiality of the existing house, and more importantly, it respects the proportion and articulation of interior spaces all too often destroyed in the modernization of older houses, from the ‘furnished room’ design of the kitchen to the corbelled alcoves in the bedrooms.”

The Rehkamp Larson Team: Jean Rehkamp Larson, AIA; Amanda Kay, AIA // Interior Designer: Alecia Stevens // Builder:  HCL Construction

Center Stage

2021 Winner: CityDeskStudio

Outbuilding/Detail/Special Project, Less Than 800 Square Feet | Golden Valley

Crafted like a piece of furniture and placed in the center of the floorplan, this staircase structure serves as more than a stair. It also organizes adjacent spaces—balancing openness and privacy—and contains streamlined media storage for the family room. The dark steps at the base serve as an anchor for the oiled white oak treads and risers above. On one side, a thick wall divides the open floorplan and houses the storage; on the other, taut full-height rod railing provides a necessary safeguard yet reveals the striking profile of the stairs. It’s “open and transmitting light while also working as a thick wall of storage and a volume that divides the spaces… makes it functional and a central focus,” a judge said. “It’s a great use of space and feels like it fits seamlessly into the home.”

The CityDeskStudio Team: Ben Awes, AIA; Chris Bach

Second-place Winners

New Home, More than 3,500 Square Feet   Lake Harriet residence // PKA Architecture

New Home, 2,000–3,500 Square Feet   Kimble Cabin // Rehkamp Larson

Remodel/Addition More than 3,500 Square Feet   Upton Revived // Rehkamp Larson

Remodel/Addition 800–3,500 Square Feet   Rapson Revival // Charles R. Stinson

Remodel/Addition Less than 800 Square Feet   Two-Cook Kitchen  // Rehkamp Larson

Kitchen   Sunfish Lake Modern // ACDC Studio

Outbuilding/Detail/Special Project Less Than 800 Square Feet   Greenhouse // Christopher Strom Architects

To see all the winners, including this year’s seven second-place projects, visit mspmag.com/rave2021.

RAVE 2021 Judges 

Martha McQuade is a Minneapolis-based designer who works across a diverse range of disciplines with the belief that if you focus on design principles, you can design anything. Material and color exploration has been an intense interest and focus from an early age, and hands-on making is an integral part of her design process. In 2008, she founded SCARFSHOP, a textile studio based in color and material exploration with a strong focus on dyeing. Eight years later, she co-founded the multidisciplinary design firm MAD, which works on all scales and types of design projects, including architecture, landscape, interior, graphic, product, and furniture design. She has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota, where she has been teaching in the School of Architecture since 2000.

Nicholas G. Potts, AIA, has led landmark projects for some of the world’s most renowned architects, including Bjarke Ingels and SHoP, and edited, with Rem Koolhaas, Elements of Architecture (Taschen, 2018) and its exhibition at the centerpiece of the XIV Venice Architecture Biennale. On his recent relocation to Washington, D.C., from New York, he founded his eponymous firm dedicated to subversive pragmatism and the exploration of material and craft. His recent work has been featured in Architectural Digest, and he regularly contributes opinion on design to Vogue, AD, and Elle Decor.

Sarah Stebbins, a longtime shelter magazine editor, began her career at InStyle magazine in New York, where she worked on the launch of InStyle Home. She later became an editor at Martha Stewart Living before moving to her native Maine to freelance write for publications such as Real Simple, This Old House, and Southern Living. In 2016, she joined Down East magazine, where she oversaw the relaunch of MaineHomes.com and serves as home editor. In 2018, she launched Maine Homes by Down East magazine, where she’s editor.

Presenting Sponsor Recipients of this year’s RAVE Awards were recognized at an event in November presented by John Kraemer and Sons. As the state’s only four-time Builder of the Year, John Kraemer and Sons has been building luxury homes and remodeling fine residences since 1978. The family-owned business continues to be recognized as building and remodeling some of the finest architecturally designed homes across the state.


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