A little more than two years ago, veteran architect Peter Cavaluzzi was diligently working on a design for the new Lake Street-Interstate 35W bus-rapid transit station when he heard about an intriguing project in downtown Minneapolis.

Hennepin County was looking for a team to design and build what would become the $79.3 million Target Field Station. "We were really late to the game," said Cavaluzzi, a principal at New York-based Perkins Eastman. Undeterred, his team advanced to the semifinals, where top firms submitted their designs.

"Once we were shortlisted, it became a pure design competition," he said.

Cavaluzzi and his team prevailed, creating a hub for light rail and commuter rail, buses, bicycles and pedestrians in the shadow of Target Field that opened last summer. The defining element to the project is its Great Lawn, which provides a green stage for baseball fans, North Loop residents, commuters and passersby alike.

The "open transit" concept involved "creating a place so desirable that people want to be there whether or not they're taking transit," he said. Sort of like Grand Central Terminal in New York.

There were lots of challenges, including a construction season that included the dreaded winter of 2014. The space and construction timeline were "constrained," and the area hemmed by "a lot of heavy infrastructure, and normally those spaces are not inviting." Plus, the neighboring architecture involved a sleek new ball field, as well as a lovingly restored former Model T Ford plant. Each lovely, but not exactly a uniform design theme.

In the end, Target Field Station was awarded one of the nation's highest architecture awards last week by the American Institute of Architects for Regional and Urban Design.

Cavaluzzi was delighted not just with the award, but the project itself. "It's totally integrated with the community, it touches so many people," he said.

Now he's on to an even more complex project: the $6 billion Destination Medical Center, reshaping Mayo and Rochester.