A strikingly modern residence brings California-style indoor/outdoor living to Minneapolis’ Lake Calhoun

By Linda Mack

Remember that famous Julius Shulman photo of the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs in which the landmark modern home glows in the desert dusk? Calhoun Pavilions, the house Peterssen/Keller Architecture designed for Larry and Cynthia Holtz south of Lake Calhoun, brings that image to mind. True, it’s surrounded by city houses, not desert hills. But still, the image fits.

A planar composition of dazzling white stucco, cedar, black metal, and glass—lots of glass—the house nestles into an L-shaped lot that Larry Holtz found after scouring the neighborhood. Given to moving into houses and renovating them, Holtz had been looking for lots with Nate Wissink of Elevation Homes when he saw the white flag appear on a lot just south of Calhoun.

It was a narrow lot, as most are in the Linden Hills area, but it went deep into the block and turned north, giving it a killer view of the lake and Minneapolis skyline. It also backed onto a condominium association, which created privacy at the rear. The couple made an offer that day.

Holtz came to the design process with an idea for three pavilions stepping back into the lot, says Gabriel Keller, Assoc. AIA, who led the design with partner Lars Peterssen, AIA. “Lars and I bring a different perspective to each project,” says Keller. “We have a collaborative process—both internally and with our clients—that often begins with the seeds of the client’s idea. We were impressed by Larry’s concept, as it worked well with the site.” The refinements started there.

Pavilion one is a one-story garage with its sidewall—a skillful arrangement of stucco, glass, and cedar siding—facing the street. Pavilion two stretches out to contain the glass entryway and steps up to the open living suite—a kitchen, dining room, and living room with 25-foot-wide glass doors on the north, overlooking a pristine lawn.

Pass through a glass corridor and you’re in pavilion three, a two-story heart-of-the-house set deep into the lot. A skylit stair leads to the simple, elegant master suite, where a glass wall looks out over a balcony to capture the sublime view north to the lake. “To wake up here is really refreshing,” says Holtz.

A walk-in closet, laundry, and compact-yet-luxurious marble bathroom are tucked into the more private south end. On the first floor, an office occupies the south end, while the patio next to the pool slips under the cantilevered master suite.

Down the stairs, two simple bedrooms frame a generous family/media room. Two light wells planted with groundcover and birch trees help illuminate the bedrooms while also reinforcing the inside-outside quality of the house. “We repeated that move, so you see these framed views through the house,” says Peterssen/Keller project manager Ted Martin, AIA.

The décor, a sophisticated mix of neutrals, adds to the serene feel. Black steel frames the 10-foot-high window walls. The floors are dark-stained white oak. The white-streaked Aster stone on the fireplace wall was honed and scored for a spark of texture. “We love the grays, the blacks and browns,” says Holtz.

The Holtzes also love the design team’s functional touches. A “back kitchen” with a pass-through to the open galley kitchen hides the mess of cooking and cleanup. A powder room and laundry frame the entry to the house from the garage. A half-wall divides the dining and living area, providing backing for a bench for the table.

“One fear we had with the open plan is that we’d be living in one room,” says Holtz. But the half-wall provides just enough definition, and the modestly sized living area feels more spacious than it actually is because of its two glass walls.

And while the 4,500-square-foot house features a lot of glass, enclosures are placed exactly where needed—to provide privacy in the master suite, to anchor an elevation. On the outside, the enclosures are sometimes clad in steel, sometimes cedar.

This house differs from its neighbors in style, but it respects the scale of the block, exceeding the clients’ high expectations with an elegant modern design. The discipline is evident, the nuances subtle. “I like moving, and I like projects,” says Holtz. “But we don’t need to do it again. We’re really satisfied.”

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Clients: Larry and Cynthia Holtz
Architect: Peterssen/Keller Architecture
Principals-in-charge: Lars Peterssen, AIA; Gabriel Keller, Assoc. AIA
Project manager: Ted Martin, AIA
Project team: Brent Nelson, AIA; Jason Briles, Assoc. AIA
Landscape architect: Travis Van Liere Studio
General contractor: Elevation Homes
Size: 4,500 finished square feet
Completion: November 2015
Photographer: Paul Crosby