Creating architecture that embodies a lifetime of exploration.

Since our beginning in 1983, SALA Architects has placed a high emphasis on developing intimate, effective relationships with our clients and collaborators. It is fitting that our founding partners, Dale Mulfinger and Sarah Susanka, first met through the University of Minnesota – their spirit of exploration, innovation, and public outreach continue to shape SALA’s culture.

During the early years of the firm, Dale, Sarah, and a growing office of architects and designers focused on energy-efficient residential designs, and connected with clients who were looking for innovative approaches to residential architecture– particularly smaller homes that maximized quality over size. In today’s media we see much attention paid to “small houses” and smart design, but it was Sarah Susanka’s 1998 book The Not-So-Big House that first focused on the benefits of building well-crafted and livable dwellings. The ideas of designing smartly, focusing on sustainability, and investing in the quality of a home, remain driving philosophies of our firm.

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In addition to Sarah’s series of Not So Big House books, Dale Mulfinger has authored a collection of cabin books beginning with The Cabin, and followed by The Getaway Home, Cabinology, and The Family Cabin. Each book shares a wide range of concepts for designing retreat homes, many of them from SALA’s broad portfolio. Cabins and retreats continue to be an important part of the work we create, particularly in crafting sustainable architecture that is sensitively integrated into native landscapes.

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Along the way, SALA Architects has served a growing base of civic, commercial, and institutional clients. While we continue to be highly interested in residences (which are the crucible of our innovation), not surprisingly, our non-residential clients are also interested in efficient, sustainable, well-crafted, and connected places. Whether these projects are libraries, visitor centers, boutique retail stores, restaurants, museums, or other places, insightfully designed environments provide a high-value of return for those who work, shop, eat and play in them.

SALA’s work has been published in countless books, magazines, and newspapers. Our projects and employees continue to be honored with numerous design and service awards, including both state and national AIA awards. We were immensely honored when the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects selected SALA for its 2005 Firm Award. This biennial award is given “to firms that have contributed to the advancement of the profession in the areas of technology, service and design.”

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Throughout our years of practice, we have been blessed with the vision, talent, and leadership of Dale Mulfinger, Sarah Susanka, Michaela Mahady, Katherine Hilbrand, Kelly Davis, Wayne Branum, and Joe Metzler. Each of these past principals (most of whom continue to practice architecture with us) has shaped who we are, and has contributed immeasurably to the wide body of work that SALA is known for, and that our client’s and our communities continue to enjoy. We are deeply indebted to their legacy.

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SALA’s ongoing success reflects our founders’ emphasis on creative exploration, and a commitment to creating spaces that excel in beauty, functionality, and sustainability.

Our leadership group today has built upon the traditions of the past 35 years while nurturing a renewed and vibrant spirit of innovation and excellence. Each of our current Principals – Eric Odor, Paul Hannan, David O’Brien Wagner, and Bryan Anderson – bring unique perspectives and interests that fuel our ongoing design explorations.

Today, our firm represents a diverse group of architects, designers, and support staff. Our projects reflect a wide range of project types, client needs, and architectural methodology.

As we move into our fourth decade, we continue to explore architectural ideas that advance the needs of our community. If you are looking for creative ideas, would enjoy a collaborative design process, and are interested in thoughtful architectural solutions, regardless of scale or budget, then we invite you to contact us to help shape your own future!