Most urban lots have a front yard and a back yard, Jeff and Randy’s house is designated as a through-lot which means the front is one side of the block and the back is the other. It was great to ponder a large space across the street from the Mississippi River in South Minneapolis.
When we were working on the design for this project, we were frequently in touch with our friend Duc Ngyuen, the former host of NPR radio show “Pacific Time.” He’d built a house in the mountains outside Hanoi near a town called Tam Dao. We were very inspired by the mix of high design ideas and traditional Vietnamese building. We were seeing images of the layered hills around his home—almost like the elevation changes in a topographic model. We decided to treat the long sloping front yard with undulating 14 inch Corten steel walls, in layers, like drawers pulled out from the site. The affect is gentle and quiet but at the same time strengthens the presence of the slope.
The back was made private and open. We created a long herb planter off the kitchen. And there’s even a driveway melt system to eliminate most shoveling. Truly one of our favorite projects and clients.
This work was published in PIN-UP Magazine and, most recently, shot by Alec Soth for the Wall Street Journal Magazine.