With towering walls of glass, heated concrete floors and high ceilings, Minnesota's iconic FlatPak House is back on the market.
Designed by Charlie Lazor, the house near Cedar Lake in Minneapolis was a case study in prefab construction. When it was completed in 2004, the 2,840-square-foot house caught the attention of architects around the country. It was featured in publications from the New York Times to Dwell magazine for its design, construction and use of materials.
The idea of prefab houses emerged after World War II as a means of using ready-made materials, rather than highly customized materials, to build houses, said Pavel Pyś, curator of visual arts at the Walker Art Center. (A smaller FlatPak that Lazor's firm designed is on display in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.)
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Modernist prefab architects were looking to create efficient homes with minimal construction and aimed to reduce waste when building, he said.
The Cedar Lake home "is very much tied to these ideas of modularity, easy assembly and efficiency," Pyś said.
The home is one of just a handful of modern prefab homes in Minnesota, according to Lazor, founder and principal of Lazor/Office and a co-founder of Blu Dot furniture. The house, for Lazor, was an experiment in affordable prefab construction.
"I was interested in scaling up the design principles and methods that we were using for Blu Dot Furniture [at the time] and creating a system of components that could be used to build a home," he said.
The modular, 8-foot-wide walls of FlatPak houses can be clad in wood, concrete, metal or glass, which offers variability in appearance compared with the uniformity usually associated with prefab, according to the Walker Art Center's website.
Current owner Zelda Thomas-Curti, Lazor's ex-wife, put it on the market in 2021, but decided to keep it because she loved it too much and wasn't ready to move out of state. Now, she spends most of her time in Milan, Italy, so selling the beloved house, which has been an Airbnb, made the most sense.
"It's very L.A., cool and funky, and has a modernist style," Thomas-Curti said. "Kudos to my ex-husband. He's amazing at his craft, and he builds amazing homes like it all over the world."
The four-bedroom, three-bath home has floor-to-ceiling windows on the lower level that offer views of the woods around the house. On the upper level, high windows can make you feel like you're in the treetops.
From its walls of precast concrete to its steel roof, the house was premade in a factory, then assembled on-site with the use of a crane. It's made up of two sections, a larger one that houses the main living spaces and a smaller one that contains an office on the main floor and an extra bedroom upstairs. The two sections are connected by a bridge on the second level.
Upstairs, the bedroom walls are "demountable," Lazor previously told the Star Tribune. You can reconfigure the space how you want and swap them out.
Warmth is evenly distributed through the house from the heated floors, making it particularly cost-effective and cozy during the wintertime, said Thomas-Curti, who added that the location is "unbeatable," with Cedar Lake just steps from the house, along with ample biking and cross-country ski trails.
"I can walk out the door and I can cross-country ski on trails," she said. "It's so fantastic; you can kayak and canoe, and it's literally a three-minute walk to the beach."
It's also close to the Southwest LRT extension of the Green Line linking downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, meaning easy commuting for future owners.
Bruce Erickson (612-382-4099, email@example.com) of Compass Real Estate has $999,000 listing.