2013 Affordable Housing Design Award: Renaissance Box

In 2012 the American Institute of Architects began a search to find and recognize the best in Affordable Housing and to promote the best attributes of these projects to the rest of the architectural and development communities throughout the United States and to encourage more projects that instill these values.

I've been fortunate to be selected to produce films for both 2012 and 2013's project. Each time we approached the recognition film in a different way. For more information about the award, click here.

Project Details

Title: 2013 Affordable Housing Design Award
Commissioned by: AIA Minnesota and The McKnight Foundation
Date: Winter 2013

Recipient: Renaissance Box. 
Architect of Record: LHB Corp
Lead Architect: Kim Bretheim
Developer: AEON
Service Provider: People Incorporated

Interviews with Kim Bretheim, Pam Bookhout, Geoffrey Meyer, and resident artist Michaela.
Music: Waiting Around by Dexter Britain
Special Thanks to the Kushman Wakefield, The City of St Paul, and St. Paul Farmers' Market, 

Project Description from Client:

Renaissance Box, an inspired renovation of an historic shoe factory in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, into 70 units of LEED-Gold affordable housing, was awarded the 2013 Affordable Housing Design Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Minnesota and the McKnight Foundation. Aeon developed the project, and LHB Corp. is the architect. This Ryan Siemers (ryansiemers.com) film tells the story of the project and its impact on the community. architecturemn.com


The purpose of this video is to help inspire others to produce quality affordable housing for communities across the Twin Cities and the world at large. 

Editing Choices

With one version of this project under our belt we approached this one with less desire to present the technical aspects of the project and instead focus on what can really make a difference to those who decide to develop, design, serve and lives in affordable housing. 

In essence we wanted to weave the stories of these 4 key groups and connect on a more personal level.

Preparing for Success

As we wanted to weave 4 stories together, it required us to try and look through the perspective of those individuals. We challenged ourselves to incorporate them as much in the spaces they connected with in this project as possible. 

In some instances, we had to "recreate" the feeling. For instance in the opening scene, because Renaisance Box was in fact, already constructed, we scouted several locations that had the same look and feel to the Old Shoe Factory before it was purchased by Aeon. 

Incorporating the places that make the community of Down Town St. Paul's east side so special, required seeking permits for filming most of our exterior scenes. However doing so, pays great dividends. It turned out that one location would have been covered with barriers to keep the general public off the grass to help reseed the area. Thankfully by working with the city's park board, they sent folks out specifically to remove them for filming.