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More Home, Less House: Why Bigger Is Not Always Better for Creating a Dream Home

Date: 01/29/2013

Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Location: Continuing Education and Conference Center

Cost: $160


This four-session short course is offered by the College of Continuing Education's LearningLife program.


When we first experience an amazing home, many of us ask the same question: "What makes this place so beautiful?" We soon realize that it is not the size, the colors, the windows, the layout, or any other single factor.

Homeowners and designers experience the same challenge when confronted with the hundreds of decisions that need to be made when building or remodeling a home, and this course will examine the basic design strategies employed by residential architects as they sort through the maze of decisions necessary to create beautiful home spaces that are "just right." You will learn about the "more home, less house" concept that builds upon the work of Sarah Susanka (author of The Not So Big House), the Pattern Language developed by Christopher Alexander, and the challenge of making homes more sustainable through the use of design.

On Thursday, January 31, between the first and second session, we will meet at and tour the Purcell Cutts House (William Gray Purcell and George Grant Elmslie, Architects) in Minneapolis. This will provide an opportunity to see how the ideas and examples discussed during class may be applied to real projects. (Admission to the Purcell Cutts House included in tuition.)

For the third and final session, you will be encouraged to share a personal dream project with the class in order to receive feedback from the instructor and other participants.

Instructor Marcelo Valdes, M.Arch., University of Minnesota; member, Architect AIA, is an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota College of Design who has more than 20 years of experience as a residential architect in the United States, Europe, and South America. After 10 years with SALA Architects in Minneapolis, he started his own firm, M. Valdes Architects, PLLC. His work has been featured in numerous periodicals, including Architecture MN, Pioneer Press, Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine, and The Family Handyman, as well as in House in the Landscape (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011). His many awards include two Rave awards (2008, 2012), a Home of the Month award (2010), and a Blend Award (2011). Valdes lectures frequently about home design, his passion, to a wide variety of audiences.

Instructor Pamela Vazquez has worked in the field of architecture for more than 20 years, most recently as a senior designer for a prominent local architecture firm. She now owns and runs The New Studio in Wayzata, which covers all aspects of residential design, both interior and exterior, and through which her work was highlighted in Home and Architectural Trends Magazine. Vazquez dedicates herself to her craft by surrounding herself with mentors who have handed down their professional expertise and by seeking out clients who are as passionate about architecture as she is.


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LearningLife is a program of the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education. Established in 1913, the College provides high-quality continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities for professional development, personal enrichment, career transitions, and academic growth.


  • Name: College of Continuing Education Information Center
  • E-mail: cceinfo@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-624-4000
  • Sponsored by: College of Continuing Education

More information: http://z.umn.edu/ayz

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact the College of Continuing Education Information Center at 612-624-4000 or at cceinfo@umn.edu.

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