Photos: Insider Tour of the A-Mill Artist Lofts

August 28th, 2015

The Pillsbury A-Mill, constructed in 1881 by Charles A. Pillsbury, is one of the most iconic remnants of Minneapolis’ rich milling history. Despite being designated as a National Historic Landmark, the mill fell into disrepair after production ceased in 2003. In 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the A-Mill on its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Dominium purchased the building in 2013. Now, BKV and the developer transforming the historic mill into the A-Mill Artist Lofts. When the project is complete, it will offer 255 live-work apartments and various community spaces for artists, including art galleries, clay studios, painting studios, a photography studio, digital media studios, vocal and instrumental sound booths, dance practice studios, and a performance hall.

Now, BKV and the developer are transforming the historic mill into the A-Mill Artist Lofts. When the project is complete, it will offer 255 live-work apartments and various community spaces for artists, including art galleries, vocal and instrumental sound booths, a performance hall, and photography, clay, painting, digital media, and dance practice studios. The Lofts also have a roof deck with spectacular views of the river and the Minneapolis skyline.

New interventions on the buildings are being completed in a way that respects the historic and raw industrial character of the buildings. The lower level of the A-Mill will house a new interpretive museum that will tell the story of the complex and the role of water power in milling.  Two new primary entrances feature extruded metal volumes that recall industrial chutes found within the buildings and respect the industrial character of the site.

Joel Otto, a member of BKV’s Construction Administration team, led a group of staff on an exclusive tour of this exciting project, which is slated for completion later this year. Click through the photo gallery above!

1886 high res


Partner Jack Boarman Moderating Panel at Bisnow BASH15

June 1st, 2015

Bash 15 Jack Boarman BKV Group

BKV Group founder and partner Jack Boarman, AIA, is moderating a panel tomorrow at BASH15 at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, PA. The panel, “Urban Infill Developments,” will cover the ins and outs of these often complex projects, from best practices to collaborating with developers to find smart design solutions.

Attending? Don’t miss this exciting panel from 11:00-11:45 AM!

Jack Boarman Architect BKV GroupAbout Jack Boarman:

Jack Boarman founded BKV Group in 1978 and over the last 36 years has worked to expand it to include 120 professionals working on projects throughout the United States. Jack continues to lead the firm’s national multi-housing practice group in a holistic team approach in pursuit of innovative urban design. Jack and his team focus their designs on the neighborhood as a whole, intertwining transit-oriented development, and neighborhood community – building with creative residential developments that reflect today’s urban lifestyle living. Jack frequently speaks as an expert on student and multi-family housing.

Contact Jack. 

Four BKV Projects Among Top Projects of 2014

May 22nd, 2015

Schmidt Artist Lofts, Lime, The Marshall, and One Southdale Place have all been named among the Finance & Commerce Top Projects of 2014.  The list, which was released earlier this week, includes a wide variety of projects such as the new Alexandria High School, the METRO Green Line, and the Surly Destination Brewery. Finance & Commerce will release profiles on each project throughout the summer and fall. Congratulations to all the winners!

Schmidt Artist Lofts:

The adaptive reuse of the Schmidt Brewery into affordable artist lofts continues the rich tradition of a 100-year-old Saint Paul landmark. The design scope involved restoring the structures’ exteriors, which feature crenellated towers and Gothic details, and converting the Brew House and Bottling House into 247 loft-style units. 13 townhomes with corbeled eaves and low-pitched roofs were also added to the site to provide a total of 260 units.

The design concept was driven by a respect of the historic beauty of the buildings, and integrating state-of-the-art infrastructure for the artists.  Brewery equipment was left in place where possible and highlighted with accent lighting to bring the old relics back to life.  A variety of contemporary, welcoming seating and gathering areas allow residents to lounge and work.  Bright colors derived from the Schmidt Brewing Companies’ original advertisement campaigns were used throughout.

Read more about Schmidt Artist Lofts.


The mixed-use project is located at the heart of the vibrant LynLake neighborhood. It is a six-story community with retail and restaurant space on the first floor. Floors two through six have 171 units of market-rate rental housing. Below grade, on two levels, is the parking garage with capacity for 242 cars.

This location presented a unique opportunity to connect with the neighborhood’s diversity, charm, and walkability/bikeability — including the nearby collection of local theaters, restaurants, bars, and shops that border the property to the south and east, and the Midtown Greenway cycling and walking corridor that defines the property’s northern edge. Lime residents also have great access to the rest of Uptown and the Chain of Lakes located a few blocks to the west.

Read more about Lime.

The Marshall:

Along with our partners, we transformed the 1920s-era John Marshall High School property into The Marshall, a modern collegiate apartment community featuring one-of-a-kind amenities and the nation’s first TargetExpress.

Located just north of the University of Minnesota campus, this 316-unit, 994-bed community features bright, dynamic living spaces. At 563,838 SF, it was the state’s largest off-campus housing complex upon opening in July 2014. It is equipped with 300 underground parking spaces for residents and retail. We also designed 50,000 SF of green space, including four outdoor courtyards — more than any other in the market — that feature a gazebo, an outdoor TV lounge, a sand volleyball court, zen gardens, and grilling areas.

Read more about The Marshall.

One Southdale Place:

One Southdale Place fits the modern lifestyle community in Edina and used high-density steel stud construction to make the development financially viable. The community’s three buildings of varying stories show liveliness, variety of choice and a neighborhood feel.  Units feature nine-foot ceilings, open floor plans, luxurious finishes including granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, oversized windows, and terraces in each unit. The main entrance is constructed entirely of glass to highlight the courtyard beyond.

Creating a design to accommodate the number of units needed to make the project viable as well as the expectation of high-end modern living was a challenge the team relished. The architects and engineers had been developing a building system to specifically meet the need for a mid-rise building, which was the most compatible for the project and the City. The new system uses steel-stud system instead of a wood-frame or concrete structure.

Read more about One Southdale Place.

9 Ways to Celebrate Architecture this Spring

April 15th, 2015
Downtown Minneapolis
From historic architecture tours to pub crawls, Minneapolis has plenty of events to offer this spring. | Photo: m01229, via Creative Commons.

It’s National Architecture Week, but why limit the celebration to just seven days? 
Here are nine great ways to expand your architectural horizons this spring in three major cities — which also happen to be home to our offices.


  • Spring & Summer: Explore with Preserve Minneapolis | Preserve Minneapolis is a local preservationist group that offers tours, events, and regular Happy Hours with a Preservationist. Their events often offer behind-the-scenes looks at ongoing renovations and restorations.
  • May 11: Tour the new St. Paul Saints Stadium | Are you a fan of both baseball and architecture? Get a first look at the brand new CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints. The stadium is located in historic Lowertown St. Paul, and visitors will see how the ballpark really works, from the kitchens to locker rooms and batting cages.
  • June 2: Minneapolis History Pub Crawl | Visit historic buildings and learn about the city’s architectural & social history while enjoying a drink (or two) with the Minnesota Historical Society.


BKV Group at the 9th Annual Skyway Open

March 6th, 2015
Don’t miss Mall Ball, BKV Group’s hole at the 2015 Skyway Open!

The 2015 Skyway Open is in full swing in downtown Minneapolis! This annual event benefits The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and features custom mini golf holes designed by local businesses and organizations. This year, teams of golfers can try their luck at 15 unique holes, including BKV Group’s pinball-inspired creation.

Our team worked overtime to design and build a full-size pinball machine with lights, music, and holes that determine golfers’ scores. (To get a Hole-in-One, for example, golfers must send their ball shooting up the “Skyway.”) The pinball graphics were inspired by both the future Nicollet Mall redesign and the mall’s history as a transit and pedestrian hub. Players can also spot downtown landmarks, from the Mary Tyler Moore statue to the Holidazzle and the Farmer’s Market. Check out the photos below.


Schmidt Artist Lofts Featured on

January 1st, 2015
Schmidt Artist Lofts, BKV Group
The Schmidt Artist Lofts are an adaptive reuse of the historic Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Schmidt Artist Lofts were featured on! The article highlights both the brewery’s rich history and the team’s approach to converting the buildings into housing for artists. BKV Group partner Mike Krych. AIA, discusses some of the challenges and opportunities involved with this unique historic building — and how everything finally came together as beautiful and affordable housing.

…when Dominium Group bought the pair of structures for $6.2M in 2012, its plans were to convert the former Schmidt brew house and bottle house into artist live and work spaces. “It was a good avenue to get a collective group of people together that had common goals and interests to create a community,” Krych says. The project benefited from $69.3M in tax-exempt bonds from St. Paul’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority, $4.2M in environmental cleanup funds, and about $70M in low-income and historic tax credits. — Amy Schellenbaum,

Read the Curbed article here.

About Schmidt Artist Lofts

The adaptive reuse of the historic Schmidt Brewery into artist lofts continues the rich tradition of a 100-year-old neighborhood landmark in the city of St. Paul. It also effectively preserves the Brew House and Bottling House as centerpieces of the newly created Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company Historic District. After five years of planning and design, the team finally began turning the brewery’s 16 acres into the 350,000 sf Schmidt Artist Lofts. The Lofts play an integral part in revitalizing a historic St. Paul neighborhood. The buildings’ finishes, unit types, and amenities are the same as those commonly found in high-end, market-rate developments, but would not typically be affordable to people of low to moderate income. Rental rates are approximately 60-70 percent of the cost of similar market-rate units in the area.


Nicollet Hotel Block Project

December 15th, 2014
A view of the proposed building along Hennepin Avenue.

We’re excited to be part of Doran Companies’ proposal for the Nicollet Hotel Block in downtown Minneapolis! The design intertwines the best of today’s urban lifestyle and includes a glass-clad mixed-use tower, a beautiful transit-oriented plaza, and space for retail, restaurants, and a hotel.

It was a privilege to work with Doran, Investors Real Estate Trust (IRET), and Graves Hospitality to create a proposal that fits the City of Minneapolis’ goal of a modern, flexible, and community-focused urban space that reflects the unique character of the city.

The Nicollet Hotel Block takes its name from the historic Nicollet Hotel, which was built in the early 1900s. Together, the hotel and adjacent Gateway Park once marked the beginning of the Gateway District.  The hotel was demolished in 1991, however, and the property currently holds a surface parking lot.

The Gateway District has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity, making the Nicollet Hotel Block a prime spot for a pivotal project. City planners hope to transform the underused block into a new cultural, transit, and event hub. Their design requirements included a building of at least 20 stories, a plaza/outdoor space, and room for retail and a hotel.

This development will complement the upcoming Nicollet Mall redesign and the proposed modern streetcar line, and it will also blend with the Mall’s green space plans.

BKV Group renderings of Nicollet Hotel Block, Minneapolis
A bird’s eye view of the block.
The plaza from street level.

Two BKV Group Projects Make “Top 10 in 2015” List

December 12th, 2014
A-Mill Artist Lofts, Minneapolis, Minnesota
A-Mill Artist Lofts, a BKV Group adaptive reuse project in Minneapolis.

Two BKV projects have been featured in The Line’s “10 Development Projects That Will Transform Minneapolis in 2015”! Our transit-oriented Lake & Hiawatha project and the A-Mill Artist Lofts both made the list.

A-Mill Artist Lofts

Why this project made the list: “…the mill’s adaptive reuse into affordable live-work artist housing—by the developer Dominium Co., with architects from BKV Group—provides a good reason for preservationists to celebrate. The complex will also include studios and performance spaces,” Phillip Koski, The Line.

This project is an exciting opportunity to preserve a Minneapolis landmark while providing affordable housing for artists, which will continue to encourage the Twin Cities’ vibrant arts scene. The site is located at the heart of the former flour capital of the world — in downtown Minneapolis on the East Bank of the Mississippi River.  The anchor of the site is the original Pillsbury A-Mill constructed in 1881 by Charles A Pillsbury.   The building is constructed of Platville limestone and features a distinctive bow of over two feet in both plan and section as a result of poor engineering and the qualities of the stone exterior.   The A-Mill is designated as a National Landmark, and the eight other structures on the site are on the National Register of Historic Places.


The A-Mill Artist Lofts will feature 255 affordable artist housing units along with common art spaces including art galleries, clay studios, painting studios, a photography studio, digital media studios, vocal and instrumental sound booths, dance practice studios, and a performance hall. The plan for the lower level of the A-Mill is a new Interpretive Museum that will tell the story of the complex and the role of water power in milling.  New interventions on the buildings will be done in a way that respects the historic and raw industrial character of the buildings.  Two new primary entrances feature extruded metal volumes that recall industrial chutes found within the buildings and respect the industrial character of the site.


BKV Group Architects Participating in the 2014 AIA Minnesota Convention

November 12th, 2014
Two BKV Group staff members are participating in this year's AIA MN Conference.
Two BKV Group staff members are participating in this year’s AIA MN Conference. Image credit: AIA MN


The 2014 AIA Minnesota Convention is taking place from now until November 14 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This year’s theme is ACCESS EXCELLENCE, and the program centers on sharing the wealth of information within our industry to encourage us to grow as professionals.

This year, two BKV Group staff members are participating in the convention! If you’re attending the conference, be sure to stop by these exciting events.

Engaging the Next Generation of Architects

Gretchen Camp, AIA, Partner & Sustainability Coordinator

We all know millennials have different workplace needs, learning styles, and career goals than previous generations. So what can the architecture industry do to engage new talent? Gretchen is participating in a panel called “Engaging the Next Generation of Architects” (Event 38) to discuss ways to encourage, educate, and retain the next generation of architects. The panel will speak from 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, November 13.

An Architects Stories from the Mill City Museum Construction

John Stark, AIA, Managing Architect

Want to get the inside scoop on one of Minneapolis’ most treasured historic buildings? John is leading a walking tour exclusively for Construction History Society of America members. The tour, called “An Architect’s Stories from the Mill City Museum Construction,” will take you through the construction history and process of rehabilitating the mill ruins along St. Anthony Falls into the popular Mill City Museum. You’ll also get an exclusive glimpse of the A-Mill Artist Lofts, an exciting adaptive reuse of the old Pillsbury A-Mill that’s currently under construction. CHSA members can join John from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13.

See you at the convention!

Rochester’s New Fire Station No. 2 On Track for Completion in 2015

October 23rd, 2014
Rochester, MN Fire Station No. 2, fire stations, fire station design
A rendering of Rochester, MN’s new Fire Station No. 2, which is currently under construction.

Spotted: A BKV Group project in the news! The new Fire Station No. 2 in Rochester, MN is under construction and on track to be completed by early 2015. This station will significantly expand Rochester’s fire fighting operations and provide more space for training and meetings.

Read the full story.

The Rochester Fire Department’s existing Station No. 2 was too small and no longer appropriately located.  The department needed new, up-to-date facilities that would also allow for future growth. After studying the issues and researching the latest design trends, the Rochester Fire Department conducted a national search for a design team.  They selected BKV Group, who teamed with local firms Kane Johnson Architects and civil engineer McGhie Betts. The project is currently in schematic design, aided by advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology.