Homegazing: Inside Horst's downtown Minneapolis penthouse

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 2014 - 5:10 PM

What does it take to transform a huge raw space into a dream condo? Horst’s architect shares the inside story of designing the Aveda founder’s downtown penthouse.

Architect Paul Udris has designed one-of-a-kind spaces all over the world, from Manhattan to Morocco, but none of them was quite like the commission he landed from longtime friend and past client Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients.

In late 2011, Horst bought the entire unfinished top of floor of the Phoenix on the River, a luxury high-rise condominium building overlooking the Mississippi River and downtown Minneapolis, and hired Udris and his team at U+B architecture & design to transform two connected units into a single 12,000-square-foot penthouse, creating what was believed to be the largest condominium in the Upper Midwest.

Horst, who died early this year, wanted the space to be not only a home but also an art gallery for his vast and eclectic collection of turn-of-the-century Viennese treasures. And he wanted the complete transformation to happen quickly, in less than a year.

For Udris, the most formidable challenge was stitching together two units within the confines of existing plumbing and electrical systems, to create what he described as “a contemporary palace in the sky.”


Q: What did you think when you first saw the space?

A: I’ve never done a project with a better view. I was awe-struck by the views, which include all of downtown from the north side, as well as the entire downtown Mississippi waterfront, including St. Anthony Falls.


Q: What did you like best?

A: The views are, of course, without equal, but I was also excited by the two two-story spaces at the corners, which give additional drama to the space.


Q: What was the trickiest part of the project?

A: The space was originally conceived as two apartments, with many more closed rooms, so there was a great deal of infrastructure from the floors below that we had to work around and/or relocate in an effort to make the space as open as possible.


Q: Horst had several homes, including a New York penthouse that you designed for him and a Wisconsin farm — what was the primary design objective for this place?

A: To create a clean, bright, open space for showcasing a fabulous art collection and entertaining on a grand scale.


Q: Did you have a budget?

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  • The penthouse condo comes with a 270-degree view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline and the Mississippi River, plus multiple patios and terraces, offering an ideal vantage point during downtown fireworks displays, such as during the recent Aquatennial.

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