Cultural Projects
Bell site plan






Bell Museum of Natural History
St. Paul, Minnesota

The vision for the new Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota on the St. Paul campus to provide a uniquely integrated site/building/exhibit visitor experience on a 13 acre site with site development and architectural design that connects with the natural history and biomes of Minnesota representing a high level of commitment to sustainable architecture and design. The design concept is based on the geological and natural history of the state as shaped by ice and fire. The entry Wedge is modeled on the metaphor of a melting glacier linking exhibits and public services. The facility will provide:

  • An intimate, personable place with big ideas, a historic state treasure, and a landmark destination – with interior and exterior exhibits
  • A familiar point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota and a gateway to the natural wonders of  the state
  • A place for all people as they seek to find – and better understand and appreciate their own place in a living, changing world
Thorbeck Architects is the design architect for the project with ESG Architects as the managing architect and scheduled to be completed in early 2010.






Norway house image 2

Norway house image 3
Norway House
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The American-Norwegian Business and Cultural Center, is intended to be a bridge between Norway and the United States, a bridge that will link the best of the American-Norwegian community with the best of Norway– past, present and future. This potential location for the facility places a new building connected by a glass link to the historic Van Dusen mansion.  The glass facade is a counterpoint for visitors entering the complex reflecting in its surface the historic Sioux Quartzite stone walls and slate roof of the mansion.  The architectural metaphor is about differences – the difference between the heavy and muscular and the ephemeral and volumetric; old Norway and new Norway; immigrant America and the modern world. The project is currently in the fund-raising stage.

Norway house image 1


Prototype theater plan

Prototype theater model
Small Community Theater
Kalamazoo, Michigan

This proposal for a 500-seat, multi-use performing arts facility was considered as a prototype for the Fontana Concert Society in Kalamazoo, Michigan as well as other rural communities - including a proposal for a facility in Sandstone, MN.  It utilizes a pre-engineered wood building structure that is commonly used for highway department salt storage buildings.  The 80’ x 132’ building will provide a lower cost option for a community theatre than can be achieved by conventional construction.  Robert Wolff, a New York City theatre planner and acoustician,  collaborated for performance, acoustic and exhibition aspects of the facility design. The exterior has the option for a variety of expressions for exterior wall and roof panels, including stone, metal and wood, while the interior leaves the pre-engineered wood truss structure exposed along with a variety of stained plywood panels.

Prototype theater interior

Prototype theater model



Anderson Center at Tower View
Red Wing, Minnesota

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Anderson Center is a regional resource and historic destination for the convergence, creation and integration of the arts, sciences and the humanities. A Master Plan has been prepared for the 330 acre property and a Barn Restoration Plan for the historic 1916 barn as a year-round multi-use facility providing a music studio in the  silo, performance/banquet facility in the loft, and an art gallery, gift shop and cafe/bistro in the ground level.

A Studio Village consisting of five cottages will provide studio spaces for the Residency Program as working studios for visiting artists, and a sculpture garden adjacent to the building complex provides locations for a variety of large pieces that integrate art and landscape.



Minnesota Zoological Garden
Apple Valley, Minnesota

The Minnesota Zoo is a 480 acre facility based on zoo geographic habitats that integrate education, conservation and research by placing animals in exhibits ecologically appropriate to their natural environment.  Completed in 1978, it was the first northern climate zoo in the world designed to be open to the public year-round.  The Minnesota Zoo was an integrated design project with architects, landscape architects, and exhibit designers working together as a team and has won numerous national and regional awards.



Fort Snelling State Park Visitor Center
St. Paul, Minnesota

This project was developed by the Minnesota DNR as an interpretive center and focal point of Fort Snelling State Park.  It is a special gathering place along the bluffs below the historic fort to celebrate the cultural and natural heritage of the confluence of the Mississippi River and Minnesota River.  Native Americans were involved in the planning to properly interpret the terrible winter incarceration of 1,800 men, women and children at the end of the 1862 Sioux Indian uprising.


Springbrook Nature Center
Fridley, Minnesota

A master plan was developed with Close Landscape Architects for this wooded nature center to enhance its entrance area and update its facilities and expand upon its successes as a regional resource for environmental education and recreation. The proposed addition is organized as a string of specialized uses like a charm bracelet extending to the east and west of the existing structure. The central atrium, with attached coffee and gift shops, links the pieces together and acts as a gateway to the natural areas of Springbrook Nature Center.


Brooklyn Park Historical Farm
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Using old photographs and vigorous research into construction methods and common building practices around the turn of the century, this immigrant Norwegian farmstead was stabilized, restored, and renovated.  Missing details were recreated and the structure restored from foundation to weathervane.  The farm operates as a living museum reflecting an 1890's potato farm in Hennepin County.  The Minnesota State Historic Office has nominated the farm to the National Register of Historic Places.


Kansas City Music Hall
Kansas City, Missouri

Site identification along with conceptual image sketches were prepared in conjunction with Artec Consultants, Inc., an acoustical and theater planning firm located in New York City, for this concert auditorium proposed for downtown Kansas City.  Its architectural expression is in the classical spirit, with the elliptical drum of the concert hall expressed on the building's exterior.  In addition to main floor seating to accommodate 2,200 patrons, three balconies ring the main performance space and wrap behind the orchestra.  A great pipe organ serves as the focal point behind the orchestra.