Lake Superior Design Retreat (LSDR)

  • 2013 LSDR Reception
  • 2013 attendees with their Sketch books
  • 2013 sketching

LSDR Committee Information
The design retreat is an annual winter weekend getaway in Duluth, MN. Architects and others interested in design gather together at Fitgers Inn to explore the corners of design with six invited design professionals who share their passion for their art and/or craft and discuss their creative stories. Past speakers have represented a variety of professions such as dancers, architects, journalists, sculptors, explorers, scientists, storytellers, photographers, singers, economists, engineers of many kinds and a diverse array of thinkers, designers and artists.
This is an AIA Minnesota event unlike any other! Plan to attend.


Chair: David Schilling, AIA

AIA Staff Liaison: Deanna Christiansen

Meeting Date: Third Monday of the month at 11:30a.m. at the AIA Minnesota office

26th Annual Lake Superior Design Retreat

February 21-22, 2014

Click here
to download an auto-complete PDF registration form which includes a list of presenters.

25 years ago, the Lake Superior Design Retreat began as an interdisciplinary event exploring ideas that push boundaries: cars, boats, planes, space, words, craft, dance, music, illustration, architecture and the environment; exploring the creative process used by architects, engineers, planners, industrial designers, landscape architects, sculptors, photographers, musicians, authors…and more.

We have had cookouts in barns and meals in art galleries and old hotel ballrooms. We have toured buildings, factories and saw mills. We’ve had urban sketch crawls and gone curling; we’ve learned about fight choreography and flyfishing. Over the years we’ve explored the corners of design and been dazzled by the unexpected. So next February, come out of your winter hibernation and join us on the edge of the frozen Lake to experience with us the Lake Superior Design Retreat 26.

LSDR Archives

25th Annual Lake Superior Design Retreat
February 22-23, 2013

Click here to see the program information










24th Annual Lake Superior Design Retreat
February 24-25, 2012 in Duluth


Click here to see the program information.




LSDR Rediscovered 2011

By Bill Beyer, FAIA

I attended my first Lake Superior Design Retreat in 1995, and was so amazed at the chemistries of the Program, the Players and the Place that I volunteered for the LSDR Committee. For the next decade, my wife Molly and I didn’t miss a single Retreat. We couldn’t attend from 2005 to 2010, but got back to Duluth this year and rediscovered the LSDR magic.

For 23 years the Committee has designed the Retreat for balance, (at a ratio of 5 non-architect speakers to one architect to limit navel-gazing), selecting speakers for the passion they’ve exhibited in designing and making beautiful things of all kinds.

The Program spans Friday noon to Saturday night, a series of presentations, meals, tours and interludes which engage both speakers and attendees while allowing time to absorb, think and talk. Uniquely, speakers are asked to stay the entire weekend to join the conversation rather than to speak and run.

The Place is Duluth; the historic Fitger’s Hotel and retail complex provides venue and lodging. Its theater seats about 150, a sensible upper limit on attendance while still achieving critical mass. The Escher-esque circulation system of the Fitger’s complex adds serendipity. Lake Superior vistas confirm Duluth as Queen of the North Coast while the February weather invariably distinguishes this event from all others.

The Players (speakers plus attendees) catalyze all elements of the Retreat with their willingness to suspend disbelief and engage each other. If you missed LSDR this year, you missed:

· Debra Frasier, whose presentation about her making of children’s books was so ethereally beautiful that it would be sacrilege to call it a Powerpoint.
· Edith Ackermann, Developmental Psychologist who shared her research on how children learn, and Bert Yankielun, PE, who shared his community geekiness via igloo-building.
· Jerry Messman, AIA, whose elegant design solution to third-world housing collided messily with the human factor, and Sam Bousfield, who invented a flying motorcycle worthy of the Jetsons.
· And Rick Defoe, an Anishinabe elder who shared a pipe ceremony in his native language mixed with the very real pain of institutional racism

For the sake of your own engaged mind, you MUST NOT MISS the unique chemistry of LSDR next year.