UrbanWorks Architecture Enters Next Stage as Founding Principals Pursue Separate Paths 150 150 UrbanWorks Architecture

UrbanWorks Architecture Enters Next Stage as Founding Principals Pursue Separate Paths


MINNEAPOLIS, MN.  In a move that UrbanWorks Architecture, a prominent and fast-growing Minneapolis architectural design firm, describes as, “more of an evolution than a separation,” its two founding principals, Noah Bly and Tod Elkins, announced that, although separating and parting ways as joint owners and co-managers of the firm, they are planning to continue the close working relationship they have had for more than 12 years–but going forward, “as architect and developer-client rather than day-to-day business partners.”

Under terms of the agreement effective February 28, 2017, Bly sold his interest in the firm to Elkins, co-founder and co-managing principal, who is now the sole owner.

“You might say that we are parting ways in order to stay together,” said Elkins regarding his assumption of ownership of the firm. “Noah is returning to his roots as a real estate developer to once again do what he loves best, and I and our staff get to continue to do what we enjoy most–namely, envisioning and designing the kinds of great buildings Noah wants to develop.”

“In many respects,” Elkins said, “it’s a case of evolving our working relationship in order to continue to cooperate on projects, but in more personally fulfilling ways for each of us.”

The two have worked together for many years, including time spent as employees of a major Twin Cities architectural firm before striking out on their own a dozen years ago “in order to pursue our own vision for contemporary urban housing,” said Bly. Since then, the firm they founded together has delivered more than $700 million in completed projects across the Twin Cities, in Minnesota and other states.

For Elkins and UrbanWorks, the purchase marks the launch of an entirely new phase in the firm’s growth and development, including plans for significant expansion into surrounding states, including Iowa and Missouri, as well as a broadening of the scope of its work to include a greater focus on commercial and non-housing related engagements. No changes in the firm’s staff are planned, Elkins said.

The sale of his interest enables Bly to do much more of what his role at UrbanWorks had grown to become in recent years. “I have spent an increasing amount of time advising and counseling our developer clients,” he said, “a task I enjoyed immensely. But at the same time I have envied their daily hands-on involvement in actually making the buildings we were designing become a reality. I thoroughly missed that feeling of real accomplishment that comes with nursing a project along and completing it successfully. Now I’m looking forward to enjoying that again.”

From the very beginning, UrbanWorks has been recognized as a somewhat edgy leader in vibrant and distinctive multi-family residential design, a reputation that has attracted a strong and loyal following among Twin Cities investors and developers.

Its portfolio of completed work includes an array of innovative market rate, affordable, and subsidized housing and senior living communities. Among the most prominent are the 30-story 4Marq residential tower in downtown Minneapolis; the Hoigaard Village apartments in St. Louis Park; 710, 720 and 730 Lofts and Third North in the North Loop; The Glenn at St. Therese in Minnetonka; Rising Cedar for Touchstone Mental Health, Longfellow Station and Hawthorne EcoVillage apartments in Minneapolis; as well as major office projects, including the headquarters of DC Group on the Mississippi riverfront and the John B. Davis Education and Service Center for Minneapolis Public Schools in North Minneapolis.

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UrbanWorks Architecture LLC is an award-winning architectural design firm based in the North Loop of Minneapolis, providing master planning, design and project management services for clients in the housing, education, office, non-profit, arts and other sectors.

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