VJAA principals Vincent James, Nathan Knutson and Jennifer Yoos in the firm's Minneapolis office. (Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace.)

After winning architecture's top U.S. award in December, the Minneapolis architecture firm VJAA will be taking a well-deserved bow this week when a show of its environmentally sensitive building designs opens June 15 at Rapson Hall on the University of Minnesota's campus. (Reception 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Friday, free. Rapson Hall, 89 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis.) 

The honor they got, the "Firm Award" which is presented annually by the American Institute of Architects, has gone to some of the world's leading architecture firms ranging from I.M. Pei (1968) to Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown (1985). The 14-member VJAA firm credited some of its Minnesota projects for establishing the reputation that led to the award, among them its minimalist design for the Minneapolis Rowing Club, an elegantly understated 1997 home for arts patrons Kenneth and Judy Dayton overlooking Lake of the Isles, a modernist cabin on Gunflint Lake in northern Minnesota, and a pavilion and chapel renovation at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Mn.

Elsewhere they've designed residences in Minneapolis, Chicago and New York as well as student centers in Beirut, Lebanon and at Tulane University in New Orleans. They're presently at work on a new entrance plaza for the Weisman Art Museum at the U of Mn. and a new Walker Library for Hennepin Av. in south Minneapolis.

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