Olfelt House by Frank Lloyd Wright architect, 1959 Minneapolis home, Minnesota real estate refurb, MN architecture photos

Olfelt House Restoration in Minneapolis, Minnesota

25 November 2023

Architects: thread collective

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Olfelt House Restoration Minneapolis Minnesota

Photos by Troy Thies Photography

Olfelt House Restoration, USA

Respecting the design and intent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1959 Olfelt House Restoration, thread collective designed a careful restoration of the existing two-wing structure with a new addition tucked into the site’s natural topography.

Olfelt House Restoration Minneapolis

What were the solutions?
Starting with Wright’s site plan showing a future wing, thread collective’s philosophy was to create an addition that is consistent with the design logic and distinctive characteristics of the Olfelt House and takes a position of deference to the original structure.

Starting with Wright’s ‘future wing’ sketch, our approach was to create an addition consistent with the design logic, materials, geometry, and distinctive characteristics of the Olfelt House. The new wing takes a position of deference to the original structure and Wright’s dramatic roof continues to be the center of focus. As Wright’s ‘future wing’ is non-compliant with building setback requirements, we adjusted the location to meet zoning code and to take advantage of the existing topography. The wooded hillside ensures that the addition is low profile and screened from view, and the iconic perspective of the original house remains intact. The addition is a master suite, with a buried, conditioned garage below. ADA access is provided from the garage to both the original house and the new master suite.

Olfelt House Restoration Minneapolis Minnesota

In the existing two wing structure, the great room, entrance, and original master bedroom are fully restored, including all the custom millwork, concrete flooring, wood wall paneling and furniture. Working from Wright’s commitment to communal gathering spaces, the new generous kitchen is framed as a second hearth, with the terrace linking it to the great room. Wright’s design intent to connect the original two wings was restored: the iconic red floor visually and physically extends from the interior of the two wings to the terrace outside.

What were the key challenges?
The key challenge was to create a new

Olfelt House Restoration Minneapolis

What was the brief?
The new owners were exploring options to stay in the Minneapolis metropolitan region, and fell in love with the Olfelt House, which was on the market by the original owners who commissioned this home, one of the last to be designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. They were committed to an update that respects the original design and intent of the original but their large family and gatherings required additional space, in addition to the deep restoration the aging structure required. The great room, entrance, and original master bedroom were to be fully restored, including all the custom millwork, floors and lighting, wood wall paneling, and furniture.

The Frank Lloyd Wright’s original drawings for the house included a site plan with a proposed future wing. While it was never built, the plan anticipates the need for additional space for the modest house and provides a provisional location and form for the expansion.

How is the project unique?
A careful study of the Olfelt House informs all aspects of the addition; design drivers include strict adherence to the 30/60 grid, use of acute angles, framing of views, the balance of glass vs. solid, connection to exterior through planters, patios, and window design, and overall geometries and materiality.

The addition is faithful to this design logic, and uses emblematic details to create a harmonious composition. The following details mimic details from the existing structure:

1 hexagon tower to accommodate stairs
2 long, thin windows at hexagon towers
3 clerestory windows above interior storage
4 eave, pitch and overhang at roof
5 integrated planter
6 prow windows with diagonal mullions
7 large glass and doors opening to outdoor space
8 ribbon windows at study

Key products used:
Key interior details of the Olfelt House are reproduced in the new interiors:
1 soffit detail with distinctive custom triangle lights
2 distinctive decorative wood detailing at the ceiling
3 painted red concrete floors at ground level
4 brick on the interior of all exterior walls
5 wood paneling on interior partitions [no sheetrock anywhere]
6 new built-in bench and cushion
7 built in wood furniture and millwork, matching the finish of the original millwork

Olfelt House Restoration Minneapolis Minnesota

Olfelt House Restoration in Minneapolis, Minnesota – Building Information

Architect and landscape architect: thread collective – https://threadcollective.com/

Project size 5000 ft2
Site size 45000 ft2
Completion date 2020
Building levels 3

Olfelt House Restoration Minneapolis

Photographer: Troy Thies Photography

Olfelt House Restoration, Minneapolis, Minnesota images / informatio received 251123

Location: Minneapolis, Minneapolis, USA

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