MINNEAPOLIS, November 16, 2023
— AIA Minnesota announced the winners of the 2023 AIA Minnesota Honor Awards and Commendations for Design Excellence last night at an awards event at the Depot in Minneapolis. Two projects received Honor Awards and five projects were awarded Commendations for Design Excellence.

Established in 1954, the AIA Minnesota Honor Awards recognize outstanding built projects designed by AIA Minnesota members, or by firms that are owned by AIA Minnesota members, that practice professionally in Minnesota.

AIA Minnesota Honor Awards submissions are evaluated using the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. The Framework is composed of 10 measures—Design for Integration, Equitable Communities, Ecosystems, Water, Economy, Energy, Well-being, Resources, Change, and Discovery—that together form a holistic approach to quality design. Submissions judged to have demonstrated excellence in two or more Framework measures may be given an Honor Award. Entries judged to have demonstrated excellence in a single Framework measure may receive a Commendation.

AIA Minnesota Honor Awards juries are composed of three award-winning architects from across the country. On this year’s panel were Natasha Espada, AIA, NOMA, of Studio Enée in Needham, Massachusetts; Adrianna Swindle, AIA, of Lake|Flato Architects in San Antonio, Texas; and JoAnn Hindmarsh Wilcox, AIA, of Mithun in Seattle, Washington. The jurors made their selections from among 40 submissions.

“I was blown away by the number and quality of the renovation, modernization, and expansion projects,” said Wilcox. “That’s important work that goes right to the core of the Framework for Design Excellence.”


Cottage Grove Ravine Landing

Award: Commendation for Excellence in Design for Resources
Location: Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Client: Washington County, Minnesota
Architect: HGA
Project partners: Bell Structural; H+U Construction
Photographer: Gaffer Photography

This new trailhead building for a regional park makes a strong impression with its mass-timber elements—Alaskan Yellow Cedar glulam columns and beams and a spruce cross-laminated-timber roof deck. The 6,000-square-foot activities hub includes a central lobby with a fireplace, park offices, a rentable multipurpose space with a kitchenette, gender-inclusive restrooms, a porch, and a covered picnic area.

Infill House

Award: Commendation for Excellence in Design for Economy
Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Client: One Roof Community Housing
Architect: Office Hughes Olsen
Project partners: 1LLC/Josh MacInnes; City of Duluth; One Roof Community Housing
Photographer: Dan Jandl
This project got its start in a design competition that challenged entrants to identify ways to utilize narrow lots in Duluth made newly developable by a zoning change. The entry included a two-level home with a “barbell” plan in which full-width rooms occupy each end of the house and services are concentrated in the center.Later built by a nonprofit housing developer, the home has a minimalist form and exterior with the primary entrance encased in warm Richlite siding.

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

Award: Honor Award for Excellence in Design for Equitable Communities, Economy, Resources, Integration, Change, and Well-being
Location: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Client: L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library/City of Eau Claire
Architect: MSR Design
Project partners: Ayres Associates; IMEG Corp.; Lerch Bates, Inc.; Market & Johnson; Mazzetti, Inc.; Salas O’Brien; SPECcetera, LLC
Photographer: Gaffer Photography

This three-story 1970s library in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin, had a tight column grid, low floor-to-floor heights, few windows, and limited room for growth. The renovation opened the building up with windows that showcase interior activities and skylights that bring daylight deep inside. A 6,700-square-foot roof-level addition features large spaces for community events and a terrace with expansive views. The project also converted a street in front of the library into a public plaza for improved accessibility and gatherings.


Award: Commendation for Excellence in Design for Well-being
Location: Frederic, Wisconsin
Clients: Bruce and Annie McPheeters
Architect: SALA Architects
Project partners: Align Structural; One Cut Construction
Photographer: Gaffer Photography

Set on a bluff edge above a small lake, LongHouse is the second of three cabins on 140 acres of rolling woodlands and prairie for a multi-generational family who share their retreats as Airbnb-style rentals. With its weathered steel siding, glulam columns and beams, engineered wood rafters and joists, and Douglas fir soffits, the two-bedroom cabin nestles quietly into its setting. Expansive interior views and a satellite porch reached via a covered boardwalk immerse guests in nature.

RIDC Mill 19

Award: Honor Award for Excellence in Design for Energy, Economy, Water, Change, Discovery, Integration, Well-being, and Ecosystems
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Client: Regional Industrial Development Corporation
Architect: MSR Design
Project partners: Architectural Testing, Inc.; Atelier Ten, Inc.; Bala Consulting Engineers, Inc.; GAI Consultants, Inc.; Gallina Design, LLC; James R. Larson; Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering, Inc.; R3A Architecture; Summit Companies; Ten x Ten; True North Consulting Group
Photographer: Gaffer Photography

This striking adaptive reuse anchors the redevelopment of a 170-acre brownfield site into a mixed-use innovation district. The project repurposed the steel skeleton of an abandoned steel rolling mill as an outer shell for new high-tech office, lab, and manufacturing facilities. Tenants and visitors navigate this atmospheric mix of new and old via a network of new plazas, elevated walkways, balconies, and gardens. The mill’s roof supports the largest single-sloped glass solar array in the U.S.

Treetop Trail at the Minnesota Zoo

Award: Commendation for Excellence in Design for Integration
Location: Apple Valley, Minnesota
Client: Minnesota Zoo
Architect: Snow Kreilich Architects
Project partners: Barr Engineering, Braun Intertec; Buro Happold; Meyer Borgman Johnson; MIG; PCL; Pegasus Group; Summit Fire Consulting; Sustainability Investment Group; Ten x Ten; True North Consulting Group; Victus Engineering
Photographer: Gaffer Photography

This project is a 1.25-mile, elevated pedestrian walkway that winds around the zoo’s Northern Trail section, taking visitors on a circuitous journey through the property’s varied landscapes, vistas, and canopies. The path is complemented by pergolas, wood benches, accessible on/off-ramps, and strategically sited lookouts. Returning guests will recognize the structure: The trail is an adaptive reuse of Skytrail, the zoo’s monorail system, which was decommissioned in 2013.

Turnblad Mansion Rehabilitation and Carriage House Renovation

Award: Commendation for Excellence in Design for Change
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Client: American Swedish Institute
Architect: HGA
Project partners: JE Dunn Construction
Photographer: Andrea Rugg Photography

For the exterior rehabilitation of the 1903 mansion, woodworkers, masons, and stone carvers repaired damage and recreated missing elements. In the carriage house, a painstaking salvage process yielded unexpected discoveries, illuminating the history of the property. The three-level renovation installed warm, collaboration-friendly work and gathering spaces that reveal and celebrate that history. The color of the custom millwork was inspired by patinated copper details on the exterior.


The American Institute of Architects Minnesota, founded in 1892, is dedicated to advancing a vital profession, vibrant communities, and architecture that endures. For more information on the organization and Minnesota architectural firms, visit our website and subscribe to ENTER, our digital monthly newsletter that explores the people and ideas shaping a better built environment for Minnesota.