Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, one of the leading chapters for the organization, was growing and needed a new home to serve more families needing housing services. Located in the heart of the revitalized midway neighborhood at 1954 West University Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, the new Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity headquarters allows the organization to improve its presence in the Twin Cities and help even more people in their struggle to find affordable housing. The goal for the project was to create a place where everyone in the community is welcomed and part of the conversation to end poverty housing.
The material palette for the project is modest. Residential sized windows, donated to the project, are incorporated into the anodized metal panel exterior wall to create visual interest along University Avenue and spatial interest within the offices and planning rooms. The residential windows were donated to the Habitat for Humanity team prior to the beginning of design. The design team embraced this idea of using the scale and experience of the residential window as part of the overall architectural concept for the project. The design team reached out to our past clients, friends and industry partners to bring them into the project as key partners. The design team leveraged the good will of the entire design industry to the benefit of Habitat for Humanity.
Schedule and location
Thursday, August 21
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
1954 University Ave. W
St. Paul, MN 55104
This program meets the AIA/CES criteria and pending approval, qualifies for 1.75 HSW LU Hours.
- Describe how the changing nature of the urban context of the midway area informed the design of the site and building mass.
- Explain the unique project process and how the building was designed to address the physical, cultural and community needs of families in poverty housing.
- Explain how the technical challenges of the exterior wall system assembly were resolved to achieve a high performance envelope on a limited budget.
- Describe how natural light, the fenestration pattern and views work together to impact the wellbeing of the staff and create a healthy work environment.
Betsy Vohs, Assoc. AIA, is a senior associate and one of the office leaders at Gensler Minneapolis. Betsy is passionate about design. Her background in both architecture and interiors enables her to transform spaces that achieve the best solutions for her clients. Throughout her career she has amassed broad expertise from design and real estate strategy, programming and design, to project and construction management. Through her mission-driven work, Betsy creates a sense of meaning, purpose and storytelling though the built environment.
Aaron Wittkamper, Assoc. AIA, is a designer for Gensler Minneapolis who thrives on the creative process. His approach is deliberate, analytical, and innovative. He gets the greatest satisfaction from projects that lead to new discoveries about ways to activate spaces. By finding successful and unexpected solutions to problems, Aaron addresses clients’ needs and elevates projects to a higher standard for mission-driven organizations. Aaron encourages communication and collaboration among the design team as an essential step toward establishing viable concepts that support client vision.