In the fall of 2007, Will Hopkins and Mary K. Baumann made what many New Yorkers would consider a puzzling real estate decision and moved to a converted flour mill on the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis.
They paid $550,000 for two basement units that together had been the turbine room of the old Standard Mill. They knocked out the dividing wall, hoping to design the space to fit an office, a guest suite, a kitchen, a media room and a professional library. A pivot door has a one and a zero, for 'in' and 'out'; the couple, both graphic designers, chose the font, Futura.
To bridge the gap between work and domestic spaces, Geoffrey Warner, the architect, attached casters to a pair of Room & Board tables and laid a 50-foot floor track that stretches from dining room to office. One minute, the tables are set for dining, the next, they're roller coasting to the office for a conference.
Renovation has not polished away the mill building's industrial past. Photos from the couple's personal collection hang in front of a bricked-up turbine shaft, and river water still flows through a sluiceway under the floor.
The condo is half underground, but design tricks help banish the darkness. A platform lifts the media room up to the windows, and Mr. Warner minimized the dark recesses above the windows by fashioning "clouds" — white, wavy drywall forms that slope up from the window tops to the 10-and-a-half-foot ceiling.
Although the couple knocked out a wall, some barriers weren't budging. This wall, a patchwork of limestone, brick and concrete block, harbors knickknacks like a wind-up robot in its crevices.
River to River - The New York Times > Home & Garden > Slide Show > Slide 13 of 13