mike@mikeap.com

Originally from Minneapolis, I’m a designer, builder, and traveler based in Washington DC. With a background in sustainable construction, my work is focused on environmentally aware and socially conscious development. I love architecture, cities, history, and planning.

Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia

The Empowerhouse is the first home built to Passive House standards in DC. Its structure, with exterior walls measuring over 18 inches thick, allows for energy cost savings up to 90% over a code-built house. Thermal bridging is minimized by using advanced framing techniques and superinsulation averaging R50. Large south-facing, triple-glazed windows capture heat from the winter sun, and calculated overhangs keep it out during the summer. Airtight construction prevents the leakage of conditioned air to the outside, while a state-of-the-art ventilation system pumps in fresh air when needed. An array of solar panels, coupled with very energy-efficient lighting and appliances, makes the house net-zero. Finally, an integrated design process was employed from the beginning to maximize value and minimize waste. Half of the first home – there are now two – was on display at the 2011 Solar Decathlon on the National Mall, where it placed 1st in Affordability (under $250,000).

Berlin, Germany

Recife, Brazil

Minneapolis, Minnesota

This future transit map of Minneapolis takes a more literal approach to the term “city limits.” All of these lines, with the exception of the existing blue (to the airport) and red (to Saint Paul), are fully contained within the city. Extensions in the planning stages, including Kenilworth and Bottineau, were rejected in favor of shorter tracks that would allow for more redevelopment in the core. A compact urban footprint is more sustainable than a large one, while a sprawling metro system will only lead to a sprawling metro. The primary goal of transit is not to make it easier for people to live further away, perhaps inducing demand for less efficient lifestyles. The primary goal of transit is to move more people more quickly, and more people live in the city. It doesn’t make sense to skip the densest parts of the state to build a train to a parking lot adjacent a prairie.

The Rise and Fall of Great Northern Station

It was clear that Hennepin Avenue would be a great street. Known locally as “the wide way to the lakes,” it was the city’s first road, though one that merely followed an old native trail from the river to the southwest. Its significance was solidified early on and nationwide, when in 1855 it became the first road to permanently bridge the Mississippi River anywhere along its 2,320-mile course. The bridge was a key transportation corridor, connecting the city of Minneapolis on the west with its then rival, Saint Anthony, a town located directly across the river to the east. Because of the crossing, the area just south of the river – where Hennepin met Nicollet Avenue – was known as Bridge Square. And because of its prime location, the city’s booming commercial activities located here. Institutions assembled as well, including the first city hall, the Minneapolis Tribune, and the post office. From the city’s foundation in 1856 through the boom years of the later 19th century, Bridge Square was the heart of the city: its business and banking center, its primary marketplace and civic center. Continue reading (pdf)

Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru