American Institute of Architects

The Bloom House
Duluth, Minnesota
Where Eagles Fly

Have you ever been in a place so special, with a view so beautiful, you absolutely did not want to leave? For Steve and Kay Bloom, that place is a high rock cliff above Duluth's Lakeside neighborhood. They fell in love with the site and its incredible view and decided this rocky promontory would be the location of the house they planned to build for their retirement in Duluth.

After purchasing the lot, Kay and Steve would pack picnic lunches and spend hours on the rock cliff, often with their architect, deciding how to build a house that would not only meet their needs, but also fully enhance the dramatic views. While the high, rocky site and outstanding views dictated much of the design, it was equally important to Kay and Steve that the house meet their specific needs. Rolf Lokensgard, architect, noted, "We were after a very functional house; the spaces had to work efficiently."

Lokensgard created a multi-level design that continues the upward thrust of the rock. Adding to the home's edge-of-the-cliff appearance are a walkway, deck, and patio; the entry walk is cantilevered above a ravine, and a concrete patio sits directly on bedrock. Exterior brick picks up the color of the rock. With the home's position and vertical profile, it is known in Lakeside as "the Chimney House."

Their furniture was drawn on the floor plans so that each piece had its proper place. Knowing how important good planning and organization are in a successful building project, the Blooms had all the fixtures selected for the house before construction started. Continuing this level of careful attention, Lokensgard took color cues from the Blooms' furniture, artwork, and the environment.

The 2,800 square foot home took eight months to build. Constructed directly on rock, it has no conventional footings and is doweled into the stone. The house was successfully wedged onto the site with few changes. Little retaining work was required and the Blooms saved as many existing trees as possible. Structural design by Larson Engineering of Minnesota also was efficient and economical.

"We have an infinite number of views," points out Steve, "with constantly shifting light and colors of the lake, the seasons, and the weather." Even the kitchen has its share of scenery. On two of the walls, the architect placed small windows with pleasing views, like looking at small, landscape paintings that change. A granite island with a double sink separates the kitchen from the dining, cabinets with glass doors for display don't obstruct the view. "In this kitchen," notes Kay, "washing dishes has become a pleasure to linger over!"

Both Kay and Steve enjoy the fact that they truly "live" in the entire house; all the hours spent in careful planning, design, and building resulted in a home that is just what they wanted. They've watched bald eagles flying close by and the endlessly fascinating Lake Superior.

"Foggy mornings are quite mystical in feeling," points out Steve. "You almost expect to see some creature rising from the lake!" They've held their breath watching ships struggle to make port during a storm. We feel tremendously lucky to be able to live in this house," says Kay. "We have a sense of peace, so close to where eagles fly."

Condensed from The Area Woman August/September 2000
By Linda Nelson
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Copyright © 2016 Rolf Lokensgard, All rights reserved.