The Soap Factory is a large non-profit contemporary art space in downtown Minneapolis that’s been a mainstay of the arts community in Minnesota for many years. OOIEE founder Matt Olson was on the Board of Directors in 2011/12 so there’s a deep knowledge. The building – literally a former soap factory – is on the National Register of Historic Places but has always been quite… punk. Large cavernous rooms, unrestored, no heat, dusty air and patched imperfections. In many ways, it perfectly evoked the Soap’s scrappy spirit, but it was clear a renovation would help it serve the artists, their work and the community better while also creating spaces for new programming and expanded possibilities. Plus, the neighborhood around the gallery is rapidly gentrifying in a generic manner that developers favor. How could the Soap Factory keep its punkness in the face of this aesthetic sprawl? How could the design of space “cause” art? OOIEE is serving as “Creative Director of Landscape Architecture and Exterior Space” part of a $6.5 million renovation. Project partners include: Project partners include: Architect of Record Studio M Architects, Wittkamper Reiff, Emanuelson-Podas, Faegre Baker Daniels, Hansen Thorp Pellinen Olson (HTPO), Herzog Engineering, LLC, McKnight Foundation, and Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. The project is under construction and will be completed in 2018.
A complete overhaul to the exterior spaces of a fantastic, subtle home in the Minneapolis neighborhood Tangletown. We made up the term “Marin modern” to describe the aesthetic we tried to respond to and thus, create… a Northern California meets Swedish MCM attitude. We researched, discussed and wondered about Norman Jaffe‘s work, Sea Ranch, Lawrence and Anna Halprin… and art-related work like Mono ha, Richard Nonas and others. The clients wanted a pool in a quiet, contemplative space… gentle and elegant. Private. The space is anchored by an expansive bridge-like pergola in Douglas fir and a cedar sculpture which balances the water. Bluestone patios and concrete. Privacy fences that, spiritually, behave more like walls… clad in 12″ lap siding to create long geometric bands that result in a quiet rhythm. Native wildflowers and groundcovers strategically planted to bloom across the season. This project will be completed in 2018.
Oddly, the first thing that comes to mind about this project is the perfume Le Labo Santal 33, which I’d encountered in the air in NY and LA but had never smelled in Minneapolis until meeting this client. It’s one of my favorite smells. A perfectly appointed MCM house on an incredible, dynamic site in Golden Valley on Bassett Creek. The clients wanted a pool and a reimagined backyard which, though amazing, wasn’t getting very much use. We made the large, formerly unused space under their existing deck into an amazing ‘room’ that leads out to the pool… it’s like an outdoor living room now! Then we created an informal secondary space with a very private feel and an incredible view into the woods and creek. A fire-pit and benches make it a great place for the adults to hang while kids swim. In the end we created three new usable spaces that allow for a completely different relationship to their home and its environment. This project was completed in 2017. Next up the front and a steam room for 2018.
An eccentric, vaguely post-modern home near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis gets a complete renovation inside and out. The client is an art collector who liked the idea of a utilitarian, maintenance-free space outside. We turned to thinking of Noguchi’s outdoor spaces and playgrounds, less about the garden and more about material textures and the energies of forms. Arrangements and geometries that transcend a style or a way of thinking and instead seem to cause a way of being. The spaces we are in make us as much as we make them and it’s this collaboration of the great vastness that we’re always trying to locate or understand. The remodel of the home was led by our friends at Brownsmith Restoration and it will all be completed in 2018.
An amazing MCM home on a very large wooded lot in Edina MN was overgrown and almost out of control. The whole site and exterior of the home are being reimagined and refined to suit the young family’s aesthetic and functional goals. A play area, a new deck, new usable outdoor spaces with a fireplace, large gravels and stone spaces to allude to zen garden energy. When the clients first approached us they shared the original blueprints – the home’s builder was an architect – and design from the landscape architect Herb Baldwin – a legendary presence in the 50s/60s in Minnesota. This project will be completed in 2018. More pictures soon.
Denise and Logan recently built a new home on a small lake just south of Minneapolis. With almost two acres of wooded space and lots of glass that blurs the interior/exterior… our challenge was to give the site a logic and poetry that elevated it to the level of the house. Budget is always a driving factor in every project but, it’s often especially challenging after new construction, so the real art here is developing solutions that are elegant and true while also being efficient with expense. The first phase was completed in 2017 and the project will be completed in 2020.
We helped our friends Olga and Cameron completely reimagine the exterior spaces at their home. Three buildings on two lots – a main house, a studio and a second house used as accommodations for various art residencies and visitors. As Deleuze might say these spaces are connected ‘AND’ separate. The arrangement creates a spirit of outdoor rooms, complete with doorways and hallways. The sight lines are musical and very rhythmically defined… there’s a rigor and discipline to the lines which seems to go past the meaning of either of those words or any explanation… the difference between sheet music and its performance on a cello? The garden is filled with native wildflowers organized haphazardly and yet strategically… the lawn is seeded fescue left long and shaggy. We even designed custom furniture for the space. Cameron, an artist and publisher of The Third Rail, was super committed to the details and the project came to life over three years with strong guidance from the clients and help from architect John Dwyer who designed the home’s interior some years ago and created an initial template for some of the ideas outside and Brownsmith Renovations, the builder. This project will be completed in 2018.
Paul is a partner at MSR, one of Minneapolis’ largest architecture firms, so we were excited at the prospect of working on his and Peter’s home near Lake Nokomis. During our initial conversations, we got even more happy when he expressed interest in exploring topiary – which we’ve never worked with – and the work of Roberto Burle Marx, a legendary Brazilian landscape architect who worked in an unconventional painterly way at the 3D level of perception. (We’ve always been interested that Burle Marx work is most commonly photographed aerially… long before we’d become accustomed to Google maps). So we decided to follow and trust this and developed most of the ideas the geometric arrangement in a planview approach to and used the topiary to create sculptural planes. This project will be completed in 2018.
Emily and John were clients OOIEE founder Matt Olson had worked with in the past through his old studio RO/LU, who helped make an incredible 70s sawtooth modern, Sea Ranch meets Norman Jaffe-esque house on 1.75 acres into something really special. But then the clients moved to Lake Harriet in Minneapolis where they purchased an incredible home by architect James Stageburg who was a luminary in this region during the 60s/70s/80s… working with Ralph Rapson and other great names while also having a lasting effect on the architectural culture here through teaching at the University of Minnesota. He was definitely post-modernist in his spirit, but we often want to say he’s post-post modernist as it seems less like playfulness as a style or a reaction against something, but rather as an unperformed freedom and joy. This project will be completed in phases over the next several years.
Laura is an artist and teacher and Ken is an industrial designer and the chair of the Industrial Design program at the U of M. We worked with Minneapolis architecture firm CITYDESKSTUDIO who created a new addition to the house which will serve as a studio and office with a bridge over to the main house. The house has a view of Medicine Lake which makes the sight lines easy. Our goal was to bring the architecture into the site in a literal fashion using lap siding and walls to create outdoor rooms in what is a large and open space. This project will be completed in 2018.
A journalist and academic called from Macon, Georgia. He and his family were moving back to Saint Paul and were interested in a little consulting about retaining walls and it turned into a complete reimagining of the home and spaces. Along the way we realized the client’s brother is Fritz Haeg an artist we love and have worked with. Sometimes it’s so easy to see the poetics and magic in the unfolding. The motion is where things happen. Located in the city but surrounded by woods, we were able to make the space larger, more organized and at the same time, creating a more spiritually nuanced and quiet, private aesthetic. Phase 2 includes a 10 person wood burning sauna… more images coming soon.