sala architects, minneapolis

On their 11 acres of agrarian land, these clients wanted to build "something simple and with good proportions." Architect Jean Larson gave them a structure with historical references to the farmhouses now decaying across the Midwest, but not a studied duplication of the past.

"Have you ever tried to design a new house that looks old?" a judge asked. "It's not easy." A 12:12-pitch roof, a broad porch, and double-hung windows that extend low to the floor evoke the tall, proud farmhouse form. Larson made the interior work for contemporary life by designing spaces that are open yet well defined by blocks of storage. Bookshelves that wrap three sides of the fireplace, a large pantry, a dining buffet, and a media center read as passageways between the living areas. "There's a thickness you pass through from one room to the next," Larson says.

On the house's facade, the architect used traditional detailing but bolder proportions. The gable-end design, for example, draws on the old attic vents, but Larson chose a larger, thicker board for a more dramatic shadow line. "Lovely," the judges concluded.

project architect: Jean Larson, AIA, SALA Architects
general contractor: Al Hirsch & Co., Delano, Minn.
project size: 2,300 square feet
site size: 11 acres
construction cost: $150 per square foot