St. Paul is Minneapolis’ less expensive twin. The city has a lower cost of living than Minneapolis and has more affordable housing options. With proximity to its twin city and accessible transportation options, living in St. Paul offers the same employment opportunities as Minneapolis, but without the high living costs. Thus, it is no wonder why many are drawn to live in the city, making St. Paul the city with the second-highest population in Minnesota.
As more and more people decide to live in St. Paul, more housing developments will be done in the city. Partnering with developers are top multifamily architects listed below. Our editors have gathered 13 award-winning architects that have built their reputation through impressive bodies of work. These firms have been dedicating their passion for design and architecture for many decades. As outstanding multifamily architects, they are experts in market-rate and affordable housing as well as in providing architecture services for apartment and condominium projects.
100 Portland Ave S. Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Established in 2011, LSE Architects is a decade-old firm and an industry heavyweight. Throughout the ten years, the firm has collected several accolades including the 2019 Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Minnesota. Several publications have caught wind of the firm’s outstanding work as well; it has graced Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal twice and Architecture MN and DallasNews.com once. The youngest firm on the list, the firm has quickly made its mark in Minnesota’s architecture industry. This is because of the firm’s high-quality service and full commitment to all phases of a project.
A big reason for the firm’s standing in the industry is the hard work of its three founders: Mohammed Lawal, Quin Scott, and Ron Erickson. The three have 90 years of combined industry experience, proving to be equipped with knowledge of all aspects of the field having handled different kinds of projects. From creating residential, commercial, and civic spaces, the leaders of this firm can be trusted to execute projects flawlessly.
In St. Paul, one of the firm’s best projects is The Upper Landing Block 2. For this project, the firm helped design a modern four-story housing development. Due to its stunning views of the Mississippi River and Harriet Island on one side of its structure, the firm found it necessary for this site to have glass doors, windows, and balconies for each unit. Meanwhile, the other side of the building offers fantastic views of parks and trails; residents who love greenery can enjoy this view from their unit as well. Indoors, unit owners are treated with stainless steel appliances, wood flooring, and a gas fireplace. Modern luxury is written all over this residential complex, from the wonderful views to its high-end amenities.
1295 Bandana Blvd. N Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55108
Founded in 1974, Pope Architects has been in the industry for almost half a century. As a well-experienced firm familiar with the ins and outs of the industry, the firm has mastery of different kinds of projects including healthcare, senior living, and housing developments. It has handled projects for the retail, education, and corporate sectors as well. For its outstanding body of work, the firm has received many awards inducing the 2020 NAIOP Awards of Excellence from the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks.
Over the last 47 years, the firm has expanded to include 75 dedicated staff members. This staff is composed of problem-solvers headed by Ward Isaacson, president and company CEO. Isaacson is a member of the AIA and the NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards). A LEED Accredited Professional (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Isaacson brings forth sustainable ideas into each project. Specializing in senior living and housing design, Isaacson leads his team in producing functional, exciting living spaces for clients in the Midwest and across the country.
In St. Paul, the firm helped transform the Pioneer-Endicott Apartments. Originally constructed in 1889, Pioneer Building was already iconic as it was: it was Minnesota’s first skyscraper and the country’s first building with a glass elevator. After the firm’s work, the structure was transformed into a mixed-use housing facility with market-rate apartments and retail spaces. Most of the historical features of the building were carefully preserved while adding in modern amenities. A fitness center, a wine cellar, and communal spaces were great additions to the building, making it a better, more convenient place to live.
222 North Second St. Long & Kees Bldg. Suite 101, Minneapolis, MN 55401
In the industry for over 43 years, BKV Group is a Minneapolis-based firm that has grown immensely since its inception in 1978. It is now a 200-employee firm with practice sites in Minneapolis, Dallas, Washington, and Chicago. Its growth is attributed to the meaningful design solutions it has provided clients over the years. Recognizing its excellence in the field are numerous award-giving bodies and the press. The firm is a two-time winner of the Diversity And Design Award from the IIDA Illinois RED Awards. Its most recent press features are in the Finance & Commerce, Rejournals, and Architecture MN Magazine.
As a holistic design firm, BKV Group has mastery in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, as well as engineering and construction administration. This expertise is showcased in different projects including Union Flats. Conveniently located near parks and restaurants, Union Flats is steps away from the Raymond Avenue light-rail station near Saint Paul’s Midway neighborhood. This workforce and family-focused building complements a developing neighborhood while creating more affordable units in the main housing hub. The surface parking along the west side of the building runs parallel to an existing railroad spur and is a subtle historic preservation gesture. The garage is also raised to strategically stabilize existing soil conditions, and provides a sense of prominence while keeping much of the parking garage above grade.
Managing Partner of the Minneapolis practice site, Mike Krych, continues to guide his office in keeping its solid status in the industry. Krych has over 30 years of award-winning, multi-family residential and urban design experience. Locally and nationally, his career has focused on improving the urban environment within housing and mixed-use developments, while spearheading BKV Group’s in-house design process to embrace Minneapolis and St. Paul communities. Together with the partners at BKV Group, Michael is instrumental in defining BKV’s design philosophy by constructing new urban communities that enhance and advance the quality of residential living
901 North Third St. Suite 145, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Urbanworks Architecture takes multifamily and mixed-use developments seriously. Understanding the challenges these projects entail, the firm employs its 16-year expertise and collaborates with partners to provide appropriate, effective solutions. Established in 2005, the firm recognizes that cost controls, market demands, public approval and neighborhood support are all factors in development. All these factors must be properly covered to ensure smooth completion of each project.
As an expert in multifamily projects, the firm is committed to producing affordable housing for residents of Minneapolis and surrounding areas. Its goal is to design excellent living spaces for the people and the community. A sample of its well-designed multifamily project is the Irvine Exchange. This project features a contemporary building with sleek, modern apartment units reflecting its urban location. Housing a total of 176 units, the building incorporates balconies and floor-to-ceiling glass windows in each unit. These features connect the units to Irvine Park, the riverfront, and downtown St. Paul. Dedicated to providing smart design solutions, the firm incorporated a stormwater system into the plan.
One of the brains behind the firm’s intelligent approach is Tod Elkins, Associate AIA, LEED AP. As the firm’s managing principal, Elkins brings his 25 years of architectural experience and educational background from the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Berkeley to the firm. His specializations include multifamily, mixed-use, and historic rehabilitation projects.
708 15th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Serving clients in the Twin Cities, Collage Architects has built its reputation through the convergence of ideas. Each of its talented team members contributes their skills, perspective, and personality to overcome challenges along with projects. This collaborative approach is seen in every mixed-use residential, urban planning, and commercial architecture service the firm offers.
Leading its valuable team is Pete Keely, AIA, LEED AP. Keely has over 40 years of industry experience with a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. With Keely in charge, the firm has gained plenty of recognition and press features. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and Finance & Commerce have featured the firm multiple times. For its consistency in delivering top-notch projects, Finance & Commerce awarded the firm Top Project of the Year three times.
One of the firm’s impressive works is the East River Apartments. Located in St. Paul, this project houses 44 modern apartment units. Some of the units have views of the picturesque river and downtown. The building is a view in itself. Paying homage to the classic apartments in the neighborhood, the exterior facade features an architectural pattern that is timeless and easy on the eyes.
533 South Third St. Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Established in 1938, Ryan Companies is the longest-running firm on the list. Its secret to longevity is the value it puts to the spaces it designs. For the firm, these spaces create stories that give more meaning to life. This is why the firm pours passion into every design, development, management, and construction of all its projects. Because of its passion and dedication, it has become one of the nation’s leaders in commercial real estate services and multifamily housing projects. For over eight decades, the firm has collected several awards, most recent of which is the Merit Award from AIA MN. The firm continues to establish its reputation through features in magazines like the Money Magazine, BD+C Magazine, and Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Ryan Companies has built a solid portfolio in its 83 years in the industry. Included in this portfolio is the Harper project. Located in St. Paul, this mixed-use development project is the result of a collaboration with The Excelsior Group. Using contrasting tones in the exterior facade’s first and upper floors, the firm created a clear division between the residential and retail spaces. In addition, the facade has an industrial appearance that reflects the building’s hip and trendy interior, while also providing a warm living environment to St. Paul’s professionals and residents. As a whole, the building displays the firm’s intention to create a space for exceptional life stories to happen.
Today, company president Mike Rodriguez AIA, LEED AP heads the company with a strong background in the industry. He has a master’s degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and over 20 years of experience in design and project development.
ESG Architecture & Design
500 Washington Ave. South Suite 1080, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Based in Minneapolis, ESG Architecture & Design is a firm known all over the country. Aside from Minnesota, the firm has handled projects in different states including Illinois, North Dakota, and Mississippi. The firm has made a mark in the industry by influencing residential and mixed-use developments, as well as urban design. Recognized by professional institutions, the firm has been honored by different award-giving bodies. In 2019, the AIA has given the firm the Merit Award for exhibiting excellence in architecture. The firm is a press favorite, constantly featured in publications including the 2021 issue of Stone World, House Beautiful, and Office Snapshots.
A sample of the firm’s perfectly executed multihousing project is the Elan Uptown. Giving planning and design services for the project, the firm focused on principles of sustainability, aesthetics, and community. For using sustainable methods, the project has earned a LEED Silver certification. Aside from sustainable efforts, the firm also ensured that the building’s exterior blends well with the location of the site. With a vibrant urban setting, the firm has built a trendy apartment complex that’s stunning yet also blends into its surroundings.
Guiding the company today is Aaron Roseth, associate AIA. In his first three years as president of the firm, Roseth has gained the firm an annual revenue average of 30 million dollars. Roseth is a proud alumnus of the University of Minnesota, and has years of industry experience to back him up.
333 N. Washington Ave. #210, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Established in 1985, DJR Architecture is an expert in mixed-use developments. For this reason, the NAIOP has given the firm the Awards of Excellence: Mixed-use recognition. Its expertise in the area is a sign of the firm’s flexibility to designing different kinds of spaces. Taking into account the needs of the client and the context of a place, the firm masterfully transforms spaces into beautiful functional spaces for living, working, and playing. This means that the firm is an expert when it comes to designing multifamily housing as well.
Showcasing the firm’s excellence in conceptualizing great multifamily designs is Boutique 28. This mid-rise building project features two different styles of townhome units. Both are equally stunning and considerate of the unit owners’ living situation. With the hope to make each apartment a place one wants to come home to, the firm made sure to create outdoor spaces for each unit. On the first floor, residents are treated to a lovely landscaped front yard. The upper unit owners, on the other hand, get to enjoy a charming day under the sun and sky with their private balconies and roof deck. Such considerate designs are why DJR Architecture is one of the best architects in Minneapolis.
The firm is both sensitive to the demands of its clients and the environment. With leader Dean Dovolis, AIA and LEED AP, creating sustainable designs is also crucial. These designs must benefit the people, the society, and the economy. By making an impact through its builds, DJR Architecture has established itself as a powerful firm.
Kaas Wilson Architects
1301 American Blvd. East Suite 100, Bloomington, MN 55425
Founded in 2007, Kaas Wilson Architects is an expert in historic preservation. In 2017, the firm received the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Award from Preserve Minneapolis and AIA Minneapolis. This expertise is used by the firm in transforming different structures including multifamily housing. An example of this is the Rayette Lofts. Located in St. Paul, this 145,600-square-foot project features a transformation of an old warehouse into a modern apartment building. The rehabilitation of an early 20th-century building is no easy task. The firm faced different challenges, including a failing roof. Using its expertise, the firm masterfully salvaged the old building and turned it into a hip, urban apartment building in Lowertown St. Paul.
In each of its projects, Kaas Wilson Architects faces challenges with a team approach. Through this approach, positive solutions are formulated and projects are completed successfully. The firm’s team of professionals is headed by Link Wilson, AIA, LEED AP. A member of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), Wilson makes sure that the team performs according to industry standards. Wilson has over 30 years of industry experience and has worked on different projects in 20 states. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree. Teaming up with Wilson is Collin Kaas, AIA, LEED AP. A founding partner of the firm, Kaas has over 18 years of industry experience and has a master’s degree from the University of Oregon.
Momentum Design Group
755 Prior Ave. North Suite 301A, St. Paul, MN, 55104
Momentum Design Group runs by establishing strong personal relationships. This close relationship is seen between the firm and its team, as well as the team with its clients. By leveraging this relationship, the firm is able to have a strong picture of the client’s needs. Their motivated team strives to perform and provide functional, creative designs for each of its clients. Such exceptional design is seen in The Grove project. Located in St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood along Snelling Avenue, the building has 119 apartment units and offers accessibility to shopping, restaurants, and surrounding colleges. The exterior facade’s color scheme seems inspired by its location; the blue echoes the color of the sky while the gray connects the building to the concrete street next to it. For a relaxing respite in the heart of the urban district, a roof deck with fire pit and outdoor grill is included in the design.
Established in 2007, Momentum Design Group has always strived to do better. This goal is to satisfy clients and help them envision and develop places they want to be in. For its impressive work on different projects, Finance & Commerce has honored the firm with Top Projects of 2020 and 2019 awards. The firm has graced other publications including Emerging Magazine, MN Daily, and Post Bulletin.
Leading the firm in delivering outstanding projects are partners Jeff Wrede, Brian Gadient, Jesse Hamer, and Craig Hartman. These leaders have a combined 98 years of experience in the industry. Through great partnership, they lead the team to establish strong, lasting relationships with clients.
4125 Lakeland Ave. N Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55422
TWP Architects is a medium-sized architecture firm with a hands-on approach to each project. Established in 1967, the firm involves a project principal in every project to make sure that high-quality service is delivered. Its principals ensure that integrity is upheld from beginning until the end of a project; earning the client’s trust is of utmost value to the company. As a trusted firm, the firm has remained an industry leader for more than five decades.
Part of building trust between the firm and its clients is through executing projects flawlessly. A sample of the firm’s successfully completed multifamily project is Carty Heights. In this senior housing project, the firm partnered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create an exceptional, sustainable living facility. The firm incorporated the use of geothermal ground source energy into the design to meet the facility’s heating and cooling needs. For the style, the firm used arts and crafts design as inspiration for the facility’s interior and exterior. The firm has definitely delivered. For this reason, LeadingAge Minnesota has given the Excellence and Innovation Award to this Carty Heights project.
Over half a century in the industry, TWP Architects plans to stay ahead for more years to come. Keeping its momentum going are partners and leaders Alan Plutowski, Amy Schwabe, and Michael Trossen. Plutowski, AIA, NCARB, is a graduate of North Dakota State University. Schwabe graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota; she is a Certified Interior Designer (CID) and a licensed architect. Trossen is a proud alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with more than 37 years of experience in the industry. Together, this group of talented professionals leads the team to success.
Carlsen & Frank Architects
524 Selby Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102
Founded in 1983, Carlsen & Frank Architects’ goal is to create spaces that work, are well designed, and are a pleasure to live in. Specializing in residential construction, the firm collaborates with clients to understand their space and budget requirements. Understanding a space requirement includes understanding a client’s style and character. By doing this, the firm delivers functional, elegant spaces that suit a client’s personality and lifestyle.
As an expert in residential spaces, the firm has mastered creating multifamily housing. One of its multifamily projects in Minneapolis is The Aberdeen Apartments. The building houses 50 units of modern apartments that exude sophistication and style. To maximize the residents’ living experience, the firm has included several communal spaces, such as a rooftop terrace with a fire pit, and other common living and dining areas to encourage residents to gather and meet one another.
For the firm’s outstanding outputs, it has been recognized by several publications including SPACES Magazine, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Star Tribune. It has gathered several awards over the years including an award for infill housing in St. Paul. The firm’s success can be attributed to its great leadership, Sylvia Frank and Peter Carlsen. Both AIA members, fellow Minnesota alumni, and with LEED credentials, Frank and Carlsen combine 76 years of experience to keep the firm on top of their game. Learn more about their work at www.carlsenfrank.com.
46 East 4th St., St. Paul, MN 55101
Established in 1991, Sand Architects is a multifaceted firm that focuses on green builds. The firm believes that sustainable methods and features can be incorporated into the design with no or minimal cost. Committed to building green, the firm makes a promise to itself and the communities it works with to make each project sustainable. Thus, many of its projects have received the Energy Star stamp and have followed the Minnesota Green Communities standards.
A project showcasing the firm’s sustainable efforts is the Western U Plaza. Located in St. Paul, this project employed the MN Green Communities standard to rehabilitate a historic building. Formerly the Minnesota Milk Company building, the structure has been reimagined as a modern apartment building with a community room and underground parking. The structure is now home to 60 apartment units with an outdoor children’s area perfect for families. For impressive projects such as these, the firm has received the Top Projects of 2015 award from Finance & Commerce.
Brad Haroldson guides the firm today. With 38 years of experience in architecture and construction, Brad has handled all scales of projects, from 200-square-foot projects to 2 million-square-foot ones. A registered architect in several states, Haroldson has helped the firm expand its influence from Minnesota to the entire United States.