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Close Associates Seward Project Wins Star Tribune Home of the Month


Gar Hargens, president of Close Associates.

Article by Jared Hanks

Photos Courtesy of Close Associates

Close Associates, an architecture firm located on the east border of Seward, has mastered the art of infusing environmental sustainability with architectural technology for generations. They also focus on empowering their community to take an active part in the initiative. Since 1938, Close Associates has striven to produce quality architecture work on projects, large and small, and have been locally and nationally recognized for it.

Gar Hargens, current President of Close Associates, has worked on many projects here in Seward and in greater Minneapolis. If you are a Seward resident, you have most likely seen some of Gar’s work, including: the former Seward Co-op (now Verdant Tea), the new Seward Co-op, Metro Place commercial and residential building, Earth Shelter Townhomes; and he helped renovate Seward Redesign’s building, Franklin East. In addition to commercial and small business development, Gar works very closely with clients in Seward on private residential projects.

Close Associates August 2013

Exterior shots of Close Associates’ Home of the Month winning design.

Recently he finished work on a property in Seward, of which he is quite proud. Located in the SE blocks of Seward, this $310,000 estate was designed specifically with the client’s needs in mind. The clients are empty nesters, moving into the city from St. Louis Park.  The husband and wife – an esteemed mathematician and seasoned teacher –- were looking for an environmentally conscious, innovative, energy efficient house for Gar to build. They found a derelict property off of 35th Avenue South, and tore down the remains to build a masterpiece.

As President of Close Associates, Gar likens his relationship with his clients to that of a family practice doctor. He works to develop a healthy, genuine working relationship with the residents in order to best accommodate their wants, needs, and preferences. Whether it’s making the 2nd floor a split level open area with kitchen and lounge to allow them to entertain friends and family while preparing food; or a mud room used as a checkpoint before entering the house after gardening; one can see the clients’ lifestyle represented in their finished home. In fact, the Mathematician specifically designed the glass panels used as side railings to reflect an algorithm he constructed for the piece.

When asked what his favorite part of the project was, Gar replied, “the couple’s pride in the finished product.” The couple loves to show off their home to guests, and host parties there quite frequently. Another of Gar’s favorite aspects of the house is that it is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. The house temperature is controlled by a geothermal heating and cooling system that uses heat pulled from deep underground, as opposed to burning propane or natural gasses. For more on the house, keep your eye out for it highlighted in the Star Tribune’s 2013-14’s Home of the Month section – another positive representation of the Seward Community.

Close Associates Interior August 2013

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