Projects built to “BLEND” win annual architecture awards

Credit: Designer Kyle Veldhouse of David Heide Design Studio accepted a Best in Show Silver BLEND Award for an East Isles home project. Photo by Michelle Bruch

When the BLEND Awards began nine years ago, the concept of new construction blending into the neighborhood wasn’t as prevalent as it is today, according to the awards’ event committee. Now, plenty of submissions are rolling in each year and it’s getting harder to pick the winners.

“The judges had a really difficult time this year,” said Keiko Veasey, an award committee member.

They even added a category this year — Best in Show — and judges insisted on adding a silver winner.

“The bar keeps getting raised,” Veasey said. “The desire to blend in is more commonplace. Nobody wants to be ‘that house.'”              

At the Sept. 28 awards show at the Fulton Brewery, author Larry Millett presented examples of mid-century modern architecture featured in his forthcoming book. Homes during the time period were modest in terms of size, he said, and the period’s best work demonstrates that small homes can be more than a box.

“You can do small, you can do it well, and you can do modern architecture,” he said. “It’s a very efficient, livable, relaxed kind of house.”

The following lists the winners with homes or architects based in Southwest Minneapolis. The full list of winners is available at Some projects also received an EcoBLEND badge, which is based on resource efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality and energy efficiency.

Best in Show Gold

“Pitch Perfect” in Lynnhurst

Architect/designer: David Wagner and Marc Sloot, SALA Architects

Builder: Stephen Roche, Showcase Renovation

Description: A flat roof on the porch collected snow and caused ice-damming, the foundation was crumbling, and the interior was dark and disconnected from the neighborhood. The new porch roof is designed as an extension of the home’s historic 1912-era gambrel-shape outline.


Best in Show Silver

“Federal Facade” in East Isles

Architect/designer: David Heide Design Studio

Builder: MDS Remodeling

Description: The architect restored the original Federal Revival character by choosing a historically accurate paint scheme and building a traditional molded lunette in the front entrance. Designer Kyle Veldhouse said the homeowner also wanted outdoor living space, but didn’t have any backyard to work with, so they built an enclosed porch at the front of the home. Judges called the house a “classic,” and said it now embraces the street.


New construction

“Multi-generational home” in North Minneapolis, also an EcoBLEND Badge winner

Architect/designer: Marnie Peichel Architecture and Design, based in Kingfield

Builder: J Lewis Building & Remodeling

Description: On the site of a demolished fourplex, the architect designed adjoining units with private living spaces, allowing for elderly parents or relatives to live closely and assist each other. Renewable energy is available through a solar leasing model installed on the roof, and the building uses durable materials.


New construction

“Lake Harriet Transitional Cottage” in Linden Hills

Architect/designer: Ben Nelson/DFP

Builder: Scott Busyn-Great Neighborhood Homes

Description: The home stands below the maximums allowed by the zoning code. A drainage plan keeps water off neighbors’ properties and out of Lake Harriet, flowing into a backyard raingarden and fish pond. An active bird nest was rescued prior to demolition and placed in a basswood tree. Judges said it’s quite a big house, but architects managed the scale quite well.


New construction

“Parkside Cottage” in Linden Hills

Architect/designer: Mark Larson and Will Spencer, Rehkamp Larson Architects, based in Linden Hills

Builder: Hage & Company Custom Home Builders

Description: A neglected house on the site was slowly sinking due to soft soil. The new home’s height was kept to one-and-a-half stories, with shed dormers on both sides to maximize space. One judge praised the front porch; another judge said, “I love that one.”



“Razing the Roof” in Linden Hills, also an EcoBLEND Badge winner

Architect/designer and builder: David Lund Design, based in Linden Hills

Description: The architect removed the roof and added a second story and two-story addition. The project includes new landscaping and a bluestone patio.



“Fenix” in Fulton

Architect/designer: David Wagner and Chris Meyer, SALA Architects

Builder: Jason Stinson

Description: At a home designed by influential architect and professor James Stageberg, the original garage was leaking and near collapse. The new garage now fits two cars and keeps a similar form to the home. The garage features a frosted glass garage door and a Baltic-birch plywood ceiling designed to complement the natural cedar siding.



“Lake Harriet Charmer Revitalized,” located near Lake Harriet

Architect/designer: Dan Nepp and Janet Lederle, Tea2 Architects based in Linden Hills

Builder: Jack Carter, Uber Built Inc.

Description: The homeowners were looking to squeeze a master suite and guest bedroom into their home. By removing an existing first-floor sunroom, a new addition added only 120 square feet to the footprint of the house. In the new kitchen layout, built-in cabinet space was carved out of an existing powder room, which opened up the kitchen and allowed for a large island and casual dining.



“A porch for all seasons” in Tangletown

Architect/designer: David Heide Design Studio

Builder: Golliker Construction

Description: A sloping porch is remade into warm year-round living space, retaining the exterior walls and roof. The remodel features new windows and a heated slate mosaic floor.



“Entertaining on Lake of the Isles”

Architect/designer: David Heide Design Studio

Builder: Dovetail Renovation

Description: Frequently the host of fellow art patrons and fundraising events, the homeowners wanted better space for entertaining and better access to the outdoors. The architects relocated the kitchen to make it a central hub, moved the garage below-grade and built a terrace above the garage.



“The house to ourselves” in Linden Hills

Architect/designer: Brian Falk and Denny Claridge of Brickhouse Architects, based in East Harriet

Builder: Lake Country Builders

Description: The architects designed a 1.5-story addition to provide extra space without increasing the visual mass of the house.