salmela architect, duluth

Despite their radical break with tradition, the three black cubes dotting this hillside received no negative feedback from their blue-collar neighbors. No doubt it's because the unassuming homes foster community by making the neglected pocket neighborhood part of the larger one in density and scale. New plat lines respond to elevation shifts and views of the Lake Superior harbor. “There are no lawns, just native grasses running over the whole site,” says David Salmela, FAIA. “We intentionally tried to hide the property lines, so the place has a European courtlike quality.”

The judges praised Salmela's craftsmanlike use of materials—many of them local—and his Scandinavian pragmatism.

principal in charge / project architect / land planner: David Salmela, FAIA, SALMELA ARCHITECT
general contractor: Brad Holmes, Rod and Sons Carpentry, Gilbert, Minn.
landscape architect: Shane Coen, ASLA, Coen+Partners, Minneapolis
structural engineer: James P. Berry, P.E., Hurst & Henrichs Limited, Duluth, Minn.
civil engineer: David Salo, P.E., Salo Engineering, Duluth
project size: 1,800 square feet to 3,000 square feet per unit
site size: 1.14 acres
construction cost: $180 to $230 per square foot
sales price: $350,000 to $600,000 per unit
units in project: 3
photography: Peter Bastianelli-Kerze.

product specs
doors, windows: H-Window Co.; exterior siding: Richlite Co.; hvac equipment: Airia Brands (LifeBreath), AMTROL (BOILERMATE), Buderus, Unico; skylights/roof windows: VELUX A/S