architect Jim Dayton, AIA, is from one of the best-known Minnesota
families, but he downplays his family connections and does not plan
to do much work for relatives. Thats a slippery slope,
he says, cautiously.
fathers cousin is U.S. Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), and
the architect is the great-great-grandson of George Draper Dayton,
who in 1902 opened Goodfellows Dry Goods, which became Daytons
department stores. The Daytons started Target as a discount retailer
in the 1960s, and the Dayton Hudson Corporation was recently renamed
Target Corporation. Daytons father was the last of the Daytons
to work for the retailer.
While Jim Dayton
had no interest in working for the retail company, he was considering
a career in advertising before earning his B.A. in Architecture
from Yale, in 1987, and M.Arch. from the University of Virginia,
in 1991. I think there are some real connections between architecture,
retail, and advertising, Dayton says. Part of the business
of architecture is to convince someone, if you want to do something
in your own language of design. You have to convince them that these
leaps of faith are worth taking, as in retail and advertising.
in 1991, Dayton headed west to Los Angeles and interviewed with
Frank Gehry, who had just received the commission for the Guggenheim
Bilbao and needed to add employees to his 30-person office. I
was a warm body showing up with a portfolio, says Dayton.
But it was an incredible opportunity and experience to be
part of [Gehrys] professional success. Hes basically
like a father figure to me.
I talk to him all the time. I feel quite fortunate that I do have
this relationship with him.
After five years
working on projects including Disney Concert Hall, Jim and his wife,
Megan, also an architect, moved to Minneapolis because they wanted
to raise a family there rather than in Los Angeles (they now have
two children). Dayton also wanted the chance to start his own practice,
James Dayton Design, which he did in 1997, after a year with Meyer,
Scherer & Rockcastle. Before he even had his own staff and computers,
Dayton was given the commission to design a new home for the Minnetonka
Arts Center in Wayzata, Minnesota (page 144). I couldnt
ask for a better project, Dayton says of the $5.8 million
building for the nonprofit organization that provides courses in
the visual arts and crafts. He also curated the first art exhibition
in the new building.
made an impression on Dayton, and its apparent in the Minnesota
architects work. Dayton explores the manipulation of forms
and curves, and the juxtaposition of materials, including woods
and metals, in his projects. He says he finds Gehrys urban
work to be a complex collage of elements. I find that very
intriguing. I think of it as a languageof looking at materiality,
plasticity, and industrial materials in new ways.
now has a six-person practice, employed a number of the lessons
he gained from Gehry in his first completed housea vacation
cottage on Madeline Island, Wisconsinand in a competition-winning
entry for the St. Paul waterfront (both on previous page). He is
now beginning design on his most ambitious project, converting a
1916 five-story Minneapolis warehouse building across from his current
office into 46 loft condos. The project, three times larger than
the arts center in square footage, may include a new, larger office
E. Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA