Groundbreaking FlatPak House in Minneapolis is on market for first time at $1.1M

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If you were reading shelter magazines in the mid-2000s, the odds are good that you came across the FlatPak House, a modern home near Cedar Lake in Minneapolis.

The striking — and groundbreaking — house made a splash after it was built in 2004, and was showcased in many publications, including Dwell magazine, the New York Times, the Star Tribune, Architect magazine and Midwest Home.

Architect Charlie Lazor, founder and principal of Lazor/Office and a co-founder of Blu Dot furniture, admits he was “really surprised by all the interest” the house generated.

For Lazor, the FlatPak House was the melding of his personal needs at the time and his professional interest in making modern architecture more accessible and affordable.

“I wanted to build a house for my family,” he said. “I was simultaneously interested in the history of prefabrication in architecture. I was also calling on my time at Blu Dot of applying machine technology to fabrication.”

Lazor’s FlatPak House was a case study in modern prefab construction. Modular components, including wall panels of precast concrete and Douglas fir and a steel commercial roof, were premade in a factory, craned into position and assembled on-site.

“I was searching the marketplace for materials off the shelf that could be kitted together to create a building,” he said.

Walls of glass bring light and views of surrounding nature into the home.

“People said, ‘Why floor-to-ceiling glass? It snows here,’ ” Lazor recalled. “I was thinking the Minnesota landscape is beautiful at all times of year, particularly when it snows. It’s magical. In a snowstorm, it’s like being inside a giant snow globe.”

Concrete floors with radiant heat keep the house cozy, “It’s a treat to be barefoot in the winter time,” Lazor said.

The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home was designed in two sections, connected by a second-story bridge. The larger section houses the main living spaces, while the smaller one contains an office on the main floor and a craft room/extra bedroom upstairs.

The FlatPak House is on the market for the first time, listed at $1.095 million.

At 2,840 square feet, all above ground, the house “feels big,” with exceptional light and volume, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass and high ceilings, said real estate agent Bruce Erickson, Coldwell Banker Burnet. “It’s remarkable space, particularly on the main level. It’s one big space but it doesn’t feel like a big open shoe box. The kitchen breaks it up really nicely.”

The two semi-connected structures make the house ideal for accommodating home-based work and/or schooling, Erickson noted.

Upstairs, the bedroom walls are “demountable,” said Lazor. “You can reconfigure the space, swap them out.” Some of the bedroom walls are made of frosted glass. “It was done to create a more poetic interior, allow light to bounce around.”

The house is tucked into a dead-end street, “a stone’s throw” from Cedar Lake, said Erickson, close to Hidden Beach and the Kenilworth Trail and adjacent to the pending light-rail expansion, now under construction.

“Being where it is, you might think it feels exposed, but it has a remarkable feeling of privacy,” Erickson said. “There’s a privacy wall in front and trees. Charlie did a brilliant job masking things that are less appealing to look at, while keeping open long views, so rare in the city.”

Lazor chose materials that give the house “a timeless feel, not unlike a midcentury home,” Erickson said. “There’s a great patina to the house. The concrete floors have gracefully aged. The zinc countertops look great. It’s very much a piece of living art.”

Bruce Erickson, 612-382-4099, Coldwell Banker Burnet, has the listing.

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