Our team

We share a vision to create enduring work that enriches lives and the environment. And we share the joy of doing important work together.

  • Jeryl Aman
    ,

    AIA

    Director of Operations | Associate

    An architect and associate with MSR Design, Jeryl has 19 years of experience integrating the values and aspirations of clients into constructed experiences that promote wellness and wonder. After 12 years in New York adapting existing buildings for new programs, he now works towards MSR Design’s strategic goal to lead a regenerative architectural design practice. As project architect and project manager, he has shepherded the vision for Mill 19 to transform a monument of the 20th-century steel industry into a facility focused on sustainable, ecological growth, which has become the vanguard project for the emerging Hazelwood Green district in Pittsburgh. Jeryl practices architecture from multiple approaches to synthesize the conceptual principles, logistical execution, and tectonics of construction into meaningful spaces that contribute positively to the environment. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the Pratt Institute School of Architecture.

  • Scott Berger
    ,

    AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

    Architect

    A registered architect and project manager, Scott has broad experience across different scales and typologies. He has a deep knowledge of existing buildings and, for many years, specialized in design-forward, adaptive reuse projects. Scott’s portfolio touches every scale, from single-family residences to high-rise offices, and he has worked with a wide range of clients, from local nonprofits and arts organizations to colleges, universities, and multi-national corporations. Scott highly values the assembly of great teams and works to unlock the talents of his design colleagues within MSR Design and collaborative partners on every project. His work on design teams has been recognized with regional and local American Institute of Architects (AIA) Awards and featured in national publications. Believing that designs on paper are only as good as their execution in the field, Scott excels as a creative partner and problem solver for projects under construction. Scott holds a Master of Architecture from Tulane University.

  • Andie Burkholder

    Marketing Graphic Specialist

    As our marketing graphic specialist, Andie handles all of our visual elements in the marketing department. She has taught several graphic design courses as an adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota College of Design and instructor at Wayzata High School. Through her experience in design education, she has received several awards, including the Mary Hoover Award for Teaching Excellence, the College of Design Student Design and Scholarship Excellence Award, and two Thank a Teacher Initiative Certificates. Andie believes that design should be inclusive, functional, and clever. She is very inspired by neurodiverse design and its emergence within society to create positive experiences for all individuals. She also has a passion for historical design where preservation and education collide to promote storytelling and appreciation that can be passed down for generations. Outside of MSR Design, Andie screenprints, paints, and illustrates. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Design from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

  • Flynn

    MSR Design team member, Flynn, is a smooth fox terrier, who is full of energy and boundless curiosity. His fox terrier ancestors originated from England, where they were known for fox hunting and accompanying royalty and geniuses (e.g., King Edward VII and Albert Einstein), which he reflects as a detail-oriented, multi-tasking proper lad. Flynn’s age does not stop him from getting a case of the zoomies, and he is proud of his puppy good looks. He may appear ferocious because of his Tyrannosaurus rex smile, but he is truly the sweetest, good boy.

  • Jeff Davis
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP BD+C, SEED AP

    Senior Associate

    A 25-year architecture veteran, Jeff has been involved in the planning and design of more than five million square feet of public building space and more than six million square feet of higher educational facility space, with an emphasis on libraries and cultural arts centers. Jeff’s mantra “remember people” has led him to focus on expanding the positive impact buildings have on communities and the environment. As a SEED accredited professional, he has deep experience in public engagement, positively impacting underserved and culturally diverse communities across the western United States. Based in Utah, Jeff will help the firm build momentum in providing design services to the western states through his experience guiding public participatory processes, creating equitable design, and realizing ambitious sustainability goals. His sustainable design experience includes working on nine LEED certified projects (including a LEED Double Platinum certified project), Living Building Challenge planning for four projects, and serving as project manager for the design of California’s first Living Building Challenge certified project. His project work has won more than 25 design and sustainability awards, including five AIA Utah Honor Awards and a national ENR Green Project of the Year Award.

  • Olive

    Making her home in MSR Design’s Utah office, Olive is a parti poodle, who is uniquely skilled at identifying conceptual design partis in architectural design. She is a delightful mix of skeptical but loving, smart yet goofy. Loyal to her people, Olive constantly shadows those she loves best. Her favorite activities include playful active games with her people, including running, jumping, and twisting. She also loves to rest and lounge, but only with the proper pillow fit for this princess. The perfect addition to our team, Olive keeps us all smiling.

  • Ellie Ervin

    Designer

    Ellie enjoys designing through making to foster community and center the human experience within the built environment. She holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan and received the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) King Student Medal for Excellence in Architectural + Environmental Research for her grant work. For her thesis, Ellie used the craft of quilting to examine identity and intergenerational skill exchange to create a more caring and culturally resilient architecture. She believes that interdisciplinary design can result in more holistic and empathetic architecture. Ellie is interested in leveraging architecture as a tool for meaningful social and environmental change.

  • Simona Fischer
    ,

    AIA, CPHC

    Director of Sustainable Practice | Associate

    As MSR Design’s director of sustainable practice and a firm associate, Simona implements building science and sustainable design into projects and practice. An expert in embodied carbon, healthy building materials, and net zero energy, she has experience with the Living Building Challenge and other building certification programs. In addition to her professional experience, Simona has given presentations at national conferences and served as a guest lecturer on sustainability and research fellow at the University of Minnesota. She is currently a member of the mindful MATERIALS (mM) AEC Catalyst Forum, which brings together experienced materials leaders in the building industry to find common ground, build shared resources, share knowledge, and accelerate impact. Simona is past cochair of the AIA Minnesota Committee on the Environment (COTE). Metropolis editor in chief Avinash Rajagopal interviewed Simona as part of the Metropolis ProductLIVE! marathon broadcast, during which she outlined MSR Design’s “Sustainable Materials Action Packet” and “Sustainability Tracker.” She received a national AIA Young Architects Award earlier this year.

     

  • Lauren Gardner
    ,

    CID

    Associate

    Lauren finds inspiration in projects that bring people together to share their community aspirations, which design teams can create innovative solutions around. An associate and certified interior designer with MSR Design, she actively considers the intersectionality of end users within individual spaces and how these spaces can support shared experiences that build community. She wants all users to feel welcome and supported in community environments and have barrier-free experiences in all the spaces they use. Lauren also researches sustainable products and healthy materials as part of the firm’s initiative to design spaces that benefit the overall health of the people who use them, as well as the environment.

  • Nomi

    With a background of being cute and a degree in having an adorable pink nose, Nomi sweetens up the MSR Design studio with her smile and playful attitude. You wouldn’t guess she was rescued from Georgia in 2020 by how excited she gets when she discovers a fresh blanket of snow outside. In fact, Nomi loves long walks in all four seasons now. She also enjoys the thrill of the chase with other dogs in an open field, scrambling across rocks along the North Shore of Lake Superior, and playing tug-of-war with her human friends and MSR Design colleagues.

  • Emily Gross
    ,

    CID, IIDA

    Associate

    A certified interior designer and associate with MSR Design, Emily is passionate about developing concepts to inform an interdisciplinary design process from start to finish. She focuses on creating spaces that are intuitively designed for users and offer an inclusive sense of place. Emily brings her expertise in sustainable design to every project, resulting in high-performing, well-designed spaces. She participated in the Metropolis Sustainability Hackathon workshops in 2021, which culminated in the Metropolis Climate Toolkit for Interior Design.

  • Tom Haller
    ,

    RA

    Architecture Discipline Lead | Associate

    As MSR Design’s architecture discipline lead and a firm associate, Tom has contributed to a vast array of projects and design initiatives and has served numerous project roles. His passion for creative challenges and deep exploration has guided his involvement in the design of affordable housing, libraries, museums, cultural centers, and workplace environments. Tom provides a holistic view of the conceptual planning process, a thorough understanding of building information modeling (BIM), and careful attention to communicating with all team members dedicated to the success of each individual project. On all his work, he offers a sensitivity for consistent details and design craft. Tom has experience with the Living Building Challenge and participated in the AIA Minnesota Housing Advocacy Committee Search for Shelter Design Charrette and other volunteer design initiatives focused on improving housing options in the local community.

  • Sean Higgins
    ,

    AIA, NCARB

    Architect

    A registered architect, Sean has professional experience with a wide range of project types, including K-12 educational facilities, corporate offices, spaces for arts and cultural institutions, and projects involving community engagement. Passionate about humanistic architecture, Sean believes the best projects are cocreated with their communities. His approach aims to uncover the many layers of ecology, history, economics, and sociocultural contexts that exist in our world. This approach—blended with a strong understanding of site, context, light/shadow, materiality, and spatial characteristics—can result in truly meaningful architecture. Sean is currently treasurer of the AIA Minnesota Board of Directors, a member of the AIA Minnesota Community of Practice for Culture Change Core Team, and an adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota College of Design School of Architecture.

  • Mitch Karr
    ,

    AIA

    Associate

    A registered architect and associate with MSR Design, Mitch holds a Master of Architecture from Kansas State University and has been with the firm since 2013. He believes that, as humans, we expect good architecture to address and facilitate our basic requirements for it (e.g., movement, interaction, and shelter) with an efficiency that renders its use unconscious. Mitch believes that exemplary architecture, when informed by a conceptual clarity and pursuit of intent across all scales of realization, fulfills these pragmatic requirements but, through its rigor, also affords opportunities to selectively subvert established norms and challenge rationality in ways that fulfill our more profound needs—joy, wonder, and wellness. Through a collaborative and iterative process, informed by robust dialogue and understanding of priorities, outstanding outcomes can always be achieved, and Mitch enjoys working and building relationships with clients who expect that the inherent constraints and limitations in a project do not preclude the ability of this process to deliver exemplary results.

  • Steve Cabbage

    The youngest member of the MSR Design team, Steve Cabbage is a miniature Australian shepherd who was born in the outback of Mahtomedi, Minnesota, on the 2022 winter solstice. His free-spirited, energetic, and affectionate personality brings smiles to everyone he meets. Steve loves MSR Design’s dynamic workplace. His favorite creative activities include running laps around the office and chasing down new project leads. He also loves spending time with his family and friends. Camping and hanging out at breweries with doggo friends are just some of the ways Steve stays balanced.

  • Matthew Kruntorad
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP

    Principal

    Principal architect and partner with MSR Design, Matt passionately believes that architecture can provide a transformative relationship between students and faculty, in practice and results. His focus on making deliberate, fundamental decisions concerning sustainability has resulted in places that enrich client experiences and provide engaging spaces for gathering and working. Philosophical by nature, Matt most enjoys testing ideas through an academic approach to design. He believes designers should always revisit the essentials to keep an open mind and remove blinders that can come from assumptions embedded in expertise. Matt has been with MSR Design since 2003 and has worked on a wide variety of project types, including higher education facilities, municipal buildings, private residences, cultural facilities, park buildings, office space, and libraries. His work has won several awards, including an AIA Architecture Award, two AIA/ALA Library Building Awards, three AIA Kentucky Honor Awards, an AIA Minnesota Honor Award, an AIA Nebraska Design Award, and an AIA New York Design Award.

  • Ariel Kuchta
    ,

    WELL AP

    Designer

    Ariel believes that design should be socially equitable, ecologically benign, and economically viable. Through designed spaces, objects, and messages, she seeks to inspire meaningful behavioral changes that promote a climate-friendly society. Ariel focuses on creating unity between people and the planet, emphasizing sustainability and cultural responsiveness. Her comprehensive approach involves integrating interdisciplinary methods, resulting in unique interiors that travel. In 2022, she received the BWBR Prize for her design of an Arabic themed coffee house inspired by the healing properties of honey, and her work has been featured in the Best of Design student art exhibition at Furlong Gallery. Ariel holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She spent her final semester of college in Florence, Italy, where she gained valuable experience as an intern with Arcabi Associates. A WELL accredited professional, Ariel is committed to advancing human health in buildings and communities around the world.

  • Kokkomi

    Kokkomi, our petite powerhouse, exudes creativity, charm, and playfulness. Her infectious enthusiasm instantly brightens the office as she eases stress with wiggles and kisses. As a gifted designer, Kokkomi contributes boundless imagination to MSR Design’s creative output. Outside meetings, she enjoys camping in her office fort, playdates with her bestie Steve, and savoring pup cups while chasing tennis balls. Kokkomi’s adventurous, sociable personality shines beyond the work environment. She’s fluent in English, Italian, and French and thrives on social interactions, paddleboarding, park strolls, shopping, globe-trotting, and café vibes. A social butterfly and a natural healer, Kokkomi brings a warm spirit to everyone she meets.

  • Dagmara Larsen
    ,

    AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

    Principal

    A principal with MSR Design, Dagmara has served as principal, project manager, and lead project designer for a wide range of projects, including specialized learning environments, libraries, higher education facilities, office buildings, and private residences. Dagmara’s ability to simultaneously balance a project’s programmatic needs, aesthetics, and sustainable drivers has been recognized by the clients she works with and her peers through various awards, including an international IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year Award, a national AIA Young Architects Award, two national AIA/ALA Library Building Awards, a national AIA CAE Education Facility Design Award of Excellence, a national ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award, multiple AIA Minnesota Honor Awards, and an AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award

  • Byoungjin Lee
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP

    Senior Associate

    A registered architect and senior associate with MSR Design, Byoungjin focuses on integrating energy modeling and site design into the early design process to maximize energy efficiency and human comfort, as well as to reduce impacts on the environment. His deep understanding of library functions and service models enables him to address multiple program issues from different perspectives to discover the best solutions and integrate them into the overall design. His previous experience with Shinhan Construction & Engineering Company as a construction manager in Seoul, Korea, gives him a balanced understanding of design and construction. Byoungjin participated in the 2015 Library Journal Design Institute in Nashville.

  • Traci Engel Lesneski
    ,

    CID, LEED AP, Assoc. AIA

    CEO | Principal

    CEO and principal with MSR Design, Traci uses design as a tool for positive change for her clients and their communities. She equally values human well-being, building performance, aesthetics, and delight in her work. Recent projects Traci has led include Haverford College’s award-winning Visual Culture, Arts & Media (VCAM) adaptive reuse project and Missoula’s new public library and culture house—the first building in North America to be named Public Library of the Year by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and Systematic. Traci has made a name for herself as an inspiring designer and speaker, presenting workshops and discussions internationally on design. Recent workshops she has led include Next Library and IFLA events in Berlin, Aarhus, and Rome focused on design for inclusion and a keynote in Brisbane on the built environment’s role in creating resilient communities. She is a regular contributor to New Library World, Library Journal, and various IFLA journals. Traci is vice chair of the American Library Association (ALA) Core Buildings & Operations Section Leadership Team and serves on the IFLA Public Libraries Section Standing Committee. She is also member of the AIA Minnesota Community of Practice for Culture Change.

     

  • Ben Lewis
    ,

    AIA

    Design Technologies Lead | Associate

    An associate with MSR Design and registered architect, Ben values visceral hands on learning through physical model making and being on site to witness contemporary construction methods. He believes in the importance of craft in architecture and chasing a design concept all the way to the details. Ben is continually motivated by seeing a building become reality and appreciates collaborating with skilled contractors to better understand how design ideas and drawings translate into built space.

  • Patrick Lynch
    ,

    RA, LEED AP

    Associate

    As associate with MSR Design and registered architect, Patrick is driven by the unique possibilities that arise from each project’s complexity and the opportunities for tailored design investigations. He works expansively to challenge familiar solutions and believes great architecture is produced through the dialog of conflicting points of view and the inclusion of all stakeholders. The results of his work are projects distinct to each place and each client that elevate the human experience.

  • Rhys MacPherson
    ,

    LEED AP BD+C

    Senior Associate

    A senior associate with MSR Design, Rhys joined the firm in 1992 as a student intern and as a full-time staff member in 1993. Rhys has touched a broad range of projects, including libraries, cultural facilities, spaces for nonprofit organizations, and affordable housing. With others in the office over the past 10 years, he has sought to establish a strong and vibrant design language for affordable housing. He has built trust and a rapport with clients over the years working on these projects. For Rhys, design goes much deeper than just a building. He has a deep interest in data driven design, which focuses on the art and science of design. Rhys also has a passion for exploring the balance between equity distribution within the affordable housing industry and critical thinking. His work has received several awards, including an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award for the Rose, a mixed-income housing project developed by Aeon and Hope Community. Rhys has also been a guest lecturer at numerous national and international conferences.

  • Veronica McCracken
    ,

    CID, IIDA

    Interior Design Discipline Lead | Associate

    As MSR Design’s interior design discipline lead and a firm associate, Veronica believes that the most successful projects arise from an interdisciplinary approach. Working in a broad spectrum of areas, including furniture, product, fashion, graphic, and interior design, she is constantly toggling between the big picture concept and the fine details that, together, make a project remarkable. Veronica creates spaces that not only tread lightly on our environment and bodies, but also promote the well-being of those experiencing them. She is actively involved in organizations focused on these and other sustainable design issues, including as a member of the mindful MATERIALS (mM) AEC Catalyst Forum, founding cochair of the Carbon Leadership Forum’s Minnesota Regional Hub, and participant in the Metropolis Sustainability Hackathon workshops, which culminated in the Metropolis Climate Toolkit for Interior Design. Veronica is also a member of the University of Wisconsin–Stout School of Art and Design Professional Advisory Committee.

  • Connor McManus

    Designer

    With a background in architecture, landscape architecture, and visual art, Connor thrives on multidisciplinary approaches to design thinking and visual communication. He has nine years of experience as a planner and architectural designer, with a particular focus on projects with a high degree of community engagement. Connor’s past work includes regional adaptation planning for future sea level rise in coastal Louisiana and master planning for community centers. He enjoys integrating rigorous analysis with creative ideation to craft compelling visual arguments for possible design solutions. Connor has a passion for artfully handling light and rainfall to integrate building and landscape systems with heightened experiential qualities.

  • Paul C.N. Mellblom
    ,

    FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

    Principal

    A registered architect and MSR Design principal, Paul regularly designs buildings for nonprofit, mission-driven clients. He designs workplaces, public broadcasting facilities, affordable housing, and luxury homes with a passion for creating healthy, highly sustainable, beautiful places that enhance the human condition. Paul actively donates his time, including currently serving on Tulane University’s Center for Public Service Advisory Board, on several committees for the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and a three-year term on the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission. He has led a wide mix of design teams on projects that have received notable recognition, including a national US Green Building Council (USGBC) Malcolm Lewis IMPACT Award and national Urban Land Institute (ULI) Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award, as well as several state historic and affordable housing awards. Paul received the 2013 AIA Minnesota Louis Lundgren Award for his exemplary volunteerism and was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2021 for his life’s work focused on supporting historically underserved people as a citizen architect who consistently improves lives through design excellence and by saying yes when asked to help a good cause.

  • Kathryn Merta

    Designer

    Kathryn joined MSR Design after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the University of Minnesota. Her drive to design sustainable, biophilic, and healthy spaces was honored with a 2022 Metropolis Future 100 Award. Kathryn focuses on changing lives for the better through design. This recognition of how space impacts the quality of human life motivates her to think deeply about the well-being of building occupants from a holistic perspective. She enjoys traveling and exploring opportunities to expand her global perspective. Kathryn is excited to be part of a team so focused on sustainable design and positively impacting the world and climate.

  • Kate Michaud
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP

    Director of Project Delivery | Senior Associate

    As MSR Design’s director of project delivery and a firm senior associate, Kate is a thoughtful architect with experience in a diverse mix of projects, including public libraries, market rate and affordable multifamily housing, single-family residences, and corporate offices. Kate has a passion for community centered work and believes that everyone can benefit from good design. She is a member of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including an AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Award, AIA Iowa Honor Award, and two Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design.

  • Amy Nash

    Marketing & Communications Manager | Associate

    Marketing and communications manager and a firm associate, Amy has been with MSR Design for more than 26 years. She has written for Architecture MN and is a past cochair of the AIA Minnesota ENTER Publications Committee. Amy has cochaired several Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) seminars on writing and preparing proposals and related topics. Prior to joining MSR Design, Amy worked in book publishing for 12 years, including for Oxford University Press and Yale University Press, among other presses. In addition to her career in marketing professional services and book publishing, Amy has sustained a passion for writing poetry. Her poems have appeared in a range of journals and several anthologies, including If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems, edited by James Lenfestey (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Amy has given readings on Minnesota Public Radio and at a variety of venues and events regionally and nationally, including Bowery Poetry in New York City. She maintains a blog of original poetry (arambler.com) and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with honors from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

  • Lisa Nelson

    Accountant

    Lisa is the firm’s go-to person for day-to-day accounting and billing issues and questions. Self-taught with 30 years’ experience, she calmly handles staff concerns with grace and ease. Her responsibilities include billing, accounts payable, expense reports, and project management support, plus all the steps that help MSR Design remain financially stable. As a transplant from Illinois, Lisa enjoys exploring all that Minnesota has to offer. A dedicated mother of three children, she keeps her days very full and busy.

  • Java Nyamjav

    Designer

    Java combines design, research, and innovation to discover innovative solutions to environmental and social equality concerns. She approaches design by looking at things as parts of a larger whole and finds connections between them. She holds a Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Architecture Research Practices from the University of Minnesota and received the Thomas F. Ellerbe and Thomas Meyer MSRP Program Award. Java’s graduate school thesis focused on providing more resources to Mongolian nomadic farmers and revitalizing land degradation caused by key economic drivers, such as mining and cashmere production. She also worked as a researcher at the Minnesota Design Center on several community-based projects in the Twin Cities. As a research intern with MSR Design, Java explored the impact of embodied carbon on architecture and interior design projects. Her collaborative research on early phase embodied carbon study was honored with the King Medal Award from University of Minnesota. Java is excited to continue pushing for carbon reductions in the built environment through design and research.

  • Bjorn Olson
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP

    Architect

    A creative professional with a passion for humanity and the environment, Bjorn leverages a diverse background to develop innovative ideas and design in collaboration with colleagues, consultants, and clients. As a registered architect and sustainable design professional with an undergraduate degree in economic analysis, he is committed to non-extractive architecture, a design practice focused on achieving sustainable design through the lens of equity. In addition to his professional work, Bjorn is treasurer of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council and chair of the organization’s Zoning and Housing Committee.

  • Beth Roloff
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP BD+C

    Associate

    A registered architect and associate with MSR Design, Beth has experience working across many complex building typologies, global locations, and architectural scales. Her design work includes library, higher education, workplace, healthcare, science and technology, and mixed-use development projects in the United States and Middle East. A responsible steward of the environment, Beth focuses on creating architecture that is sustainably integrated into the urban fabric. She holds a Master in Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and received a Bachelor of Science in architecture, with high honors, from the University of Virginia, where she won the Faculty Design Award of Excellence. Beth is involved in a variety of professional organizations, including the AIA Minnesota Architecture in the Schools program and Harvard Graduate School of Design Alumni Council.

  • Charlie Roskens

    Designer

    A recent graduate of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Charlie offers an eclectic skill set, ranging from virtual reality (VR) experience development, furniture fabrication, and professional photography to introductory architectural education. He takes a jack-of-all-trades approach to design, always looking for opportunities to incorporate new disciplines into his process. A passionate collaborator, Charlie focuses on narrative-driven design that arises from a rigorous process to generate comprehensive, inventive, and functional products. He believes that the role of the architect is not only to satisfy the demands of individual projects, but also to actively stimulate the local communities, ecologies, and urban contexts they serve.

     

  • Brendan G. Sapienza
    ,

    AIA, CSI, CDT, LEED AP

    Director of Technical Practice | Senior Associate

    Brendan has been practicing professionally for more than 20 years. As the firm’s director of technical practice and a senior associate, Brendan has developed exceptional design, technical, and management skills, which enable him to clearly communicate design solutions with team members and shepherd those designs through construction. His diverse project experience includes cultural facilities, public libraries, corporate offices, academic buildings, and research laboratories. Brendan designs smart, high-performance buildings that emphasize architectural expression down to the finest detail, and he has helped in the formulation of an office-wide design process for low-energy buildings. He is a certified construction documents technologist through the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification, Standards (36 CFR Part 61) in Historic Architecture.

  • Jackie Smith

    Office Manager

    Jackie brings 15 years of experience to her role as office manager. She is adept at handling multiple projects without sacrificing quality of care for clients and staff. Jackie enjoys high energy environments where she can optimize her management, communication, organizational, and operational skills. With a background working as a paralegal case manager for a variety of law firms, she is excited to put her considerable professional services management experience to good use for MSR Design. In addition to her professional work, Jackie is passionate about helping others and supporting small businesses.

  • Erica Steinkraus

    Designer

    With 10 years of experience in interior design and furniture, Erica has made her mark primarily on workplace and multifamily housing projects. She also has experience working on libraries, government facilities, and art centers. Her design philosophy centers around creating spaces that not only captivate the eye, but also prioritize universal design, human-centric experience, and well-being. Underpinning Erica’s work is a commitment to maintaining a zen presence, even in the face of pressure. This calming influence contributes to the creation of transformative environments that seamlessly blend form and function. Erica is currently vice president of membership of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Northland Chapter board, where she actively contributes to the design community. Beyond her professional affiliations, Erica volunteers her time and expertise to nonprofit organizations, including Joy Collaborative. Through this initiative, she contributes to the creation of transformative environments for youth living with conditions that limit their activity.

  • Kristilyn Vercruysse
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP

    Senior Associate

    A registered architect and MSR Design senior associate, Kristilyn has been with the firm for 20 years. She counts herself lucky to have worked on more than a dozen library projects. Kristilyn brings project management, community engagement, and library master planning expertise to every project she works on. She enjoys working closely with clients, consultants, and contractors to ensure the creation and development of well-integrated buildings through all phases of design, from needs assessments to construction administration. The most gratifying aspect of architecture for Kristilyn is turning design ideas and community goals into reality. Her project work has received numerous awards, including an international IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year Award and a national AIA/ALA Library Building Award.

  • Joon Ta
    ,

    WELL AP, LEED Green Associate

    Designer

    Joon recently joined MSR Design with a Master of Science in Architecture–Applied Research in Practice and a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the University of Minnesota. Passionate about sustainability and research-informed design, Joon has conducted a variety of complex research projects, including an investigation into forced labor in the building material supply chain, the health impacts of the recycled carpet life cycle, and the embodied carbon of interior finishes. With a commitment to pushing the boundaries of sustainable design, Joon seeks to raise awareness of complex issues in design and help design professionals make informed design decisions. She has experience working internationally (including in Vietnam and Spain) on a range of projects, from residences and healthcare facilities to workplace environments and performing arts centers. Joon received the 2023 Outstanding Master’s Student Award from the University of Minnesota College of Design.

  • Brody

    Rescued off the mean streets of Houston, Texas, Brody was spirited away to Minneapolis by the incredible Secondhand Hounds rescue organization. He became part of the Vercruysse family in September 2019. At home, Brody plays numerous roles, from quirky and funny companion and A+ puppy rodeo performer to top-notch gardener and champion running buddy. To outsiders and office mates, he appears quiet and lazy, which is also true. Brody’s favorite things include tennis balls, soft toys with squeakers, the dog park, watching cars and trains pass by the window, and running into the office to grab his bone and enjoy it on one of the rugs.

  • Dottie

    Hailing from Jasper, Alabama, Dottie made her way north to Minneapolis thanks to the impassioned efforts of Secondhand Hounds. She arrived in Minneapolis with a bad case of heartworm, thin as a rail, and leery of people and loud trucks. With lots of love, attention, and food, she began her slow but steady path to becoming her true self. It turns out she is a real character. Dottie delights in initiating intense wrestling matches with Brody (commandeer all the toys), hopping on that bed she’s not supposed to be on (and getting away with it!), and all sorts of other ri-di-cu-lous antics because, hey, that’s just who she is. This Southern belle has proven to the entire world that resiliency wins the day.

  • Christopher Wingate
    ,

    AIA, LEED AP, CPHC

    Associate

    A registered architect and associate with MSR Design, Chris is passionate about developing and applying a design-centric approach to sustainability grounded in clarity of concept, design rigor, and inspiring visualization. Chris has worked on the design of numerous award-winning projects, including the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center and RIDC’s Mill 19, both winners of national AIA COTE Top Ten Awards. He oversees a student research partnership with the University of Minnesota where he is also an adjunct faculty member teaching sustainable design. A certified passive house consultant and LEED accredited professional, Chris has given numerous talks for AIA and the USGBC focused on integrating analysis into the design process. His design experience also includes two LEED-NC v3 Platinum certified projects for the City of Madison: the new Olbrich Botanical Gardens Frautschi Family Learning Center and Madison Municipal Building restoration. Metropolis Magazine recognized Chris for his contributions to sustainable design with the 2023 Planet Positive Rising Star Award.

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