Alchemy Architects, home of the weeHouse | Whitney Loft
Modern Minneapolis Renovation Merges Historic Detail with Artful Living
Renovation of a historic “Mills” condominium on the Mississippi creates a life + style reunion between New York and Minneapolis – design and people.
Award-winning graphic designers and authors of the bestselling book What’s Out There, Will Hopkins and Mary K. Baumann are a New York City couple who have recently transplanted their home and office to the renovated Whitney Lofts Building in Minneapolis (formerly the Standard Mill). Their loft is situated in the mill’s former turbine room. It contains an office (for six) that melds seamlessly with their home. The space is conceived as white on white and plays freely with concepts of old and new as a place for art. Within the home there is a house made from stacked timbers. Lights hang on pulleys and rough sisal rope. Tables roll on a 60foot-long track embedded in the floor. A state-of-the-art Valcucine kitchen coexists with industrial and IKEA components. A custom-built, 250-pound pivoting bedroom door rotates with the push of a finger. The 2,600square-foot living space is replete with 19th-century steel crossbeams, heavy timbers, and stone-and-brick arches – all pulled together by white cloud forms oozing through the gaps. This is the first loft project undertaken by Geoffrey Warner, AIA, and Alchemy Architects, a firm more noted for their work in modern and prefab architecture.
The Mill Ruins Mississippi Riverfront neighborhood splashed onto the world’s best-of-design map with notable architecture that includes the Guthrie Theatre and the respectful rehabs of Minneapolis’s historic riverfront mill condominiums. Now it also includes a fine example of how modern design meets historic architecture to create a contemporary live + work environment that inspires, engages, humors, and offers respite.
Warner’s inspiration in designing and engineering this renovation came from original black-and-white photographs archived by the Library of Congress, existing architectural elements, including brick arches dating from 1879, and some out-of-this-world phenomena from Hopkins/Baumann’s bestselling book, What’s Out There. Project partners include David Washburn of Valcucine, Scott McGlasson of Woodsport, lighting designer Jim Marvy of Simply Marvy, the clients themselves, and contractor Kurt Albrecht, all of whom played a vital role in refurbishing existing 4-foot-thick stone-and-brick walls, customizing cabinets to accommodate overhanging duct work and industrial pipes, dynamically lighting an eclectic art collection, and creating artful yet functional furniture, all of which complements Warner’s trademark industrial style of celebrating the poetry in the transformation of everyday objects into artful elements.
New York + Minneapolis. Graphic Designers + Architects. Turn of the 19th Century + Turn of the 21st Century. Can’t we all just evolve along? As Alchemy + Hopkins/Baumann prove, the answer is a resounding Y + E + S.
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Architect: Alchemy Architects, home of the weeHouse