We’re a residential architecture firm located in historic Fire Station 28 in Linden Hills — a vibrant southwest Minneapolis neighborhood. Originally known as TEA — Tom Ellison Architects — we’re the second generation of one of the oldest, most experienced residential firms in Minnesota. Since our start 42 years ago, our focus has been on the creation of custom homes and renovations: exquisitely designed, thoroughly detailed, beautifully livable custom homes and renovations.
We’ve created sought-after homes for clients across North America, with projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and British Columbia.
Our team of 21 professionals works collaboratively. Sharing, debate, ongoing refinement, and continued education drive us to elevate our process as individuals and as a team, and cultivate an uncommon level of creative energy that enriches each and every home we create.
If you’ve seen our portfolio of work, you know we don’t have a specific “style”. Instead, we draw inspiration from historical and modern sources, reinterpreting them for modern living, translating our clients’ hopes and dreams into fresh, imaginative and timeless homes.
Our thoughtful, environmentally sensitive and innovative design has become its own hallmark, garnering a great deal of national recognition. But what pleases us even more? Homeowners who are absolutely thrilled with their homes. Homeowners who tell us they appreciate them more and more with each passing year. TEA2 Homeowners.
Dan joined TEA Architects following his graduation from the University of Minnesota School of Architecture in 1986. He became a licensed architect in 1990 and partner in 1996, at which point the firm changed its name to TEA2 Architects. Dan is a recipient of the Ralph Rapson Traveling Fellowship from the Minnesota Architectural Foundation. His work has been featured in more than 75 publications and he has designed several projects for PBS's Hometime, including a thirteen-part series called House with Character. He has won two dozen AIA Minnesota/Star Tribune "Home of the Month" awards and AIA Minnesota/Mpls.St.Paul Magazine RAVE awards combined, a half dozen BLEND awards, and two Heritage Preservation awards. In 2008, Dan was awarded the honor of Architect of Distinction in a joint jury process by AIA Minnesota and Midwest Home Magazine.
Leffert's interest in residential architecture began with his first visit to an Edwin Lundie home on Lake Superior in 1986. As a student at the University of Minnesota, he worked as a research assistant with Dale Mulfinger on his book "The Architecture of Edwin Lundie," co-authored two articles in Fine Homebuilding Magazine, and interned at Mulfinger/Susanka Architects. Leffert has been with TEA2 twice, first as a Senior Project Manager, then rejoining as an associate in 2014. In between, he served as head of the architect's studio at a local design–build firm, and worked as an independent architect designing a substantial lake home in northern Minnesota. Leffert’s work has been recognized with three AIA MN/Star Tribune “Home of the Month” awards, and other honors.
Born in the the Netherlands and raised in South Africa, Leffert received a BFA in Monumental Ceramics at the CABK Academy of Fine Arts in Kampen, the Netherlands. He first came to the U.S. as an Artist-in-Residence at the Moravian Tile Works in PA. Leffert's strong interest in the art and craft of architecture is evident in his work.
Steve graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Architecture in 1987 and worked with a Minneapolis-based commercial architecture firm for nine years before joining TEA2 in 1996. In 2001 he became a Senior Project Manager, and in 2004 an Associate. His work at TEA2 includes new residences, as well as renovation projects of varying, size, scope and character. Steve’s projects have been recognized with an AIA Minnesota/Mpls. St. Paul Magazine RAVE award and an AIA Minnesota “Divine Detail Award.” His projects have been published in several magazines, including Architectural Digest and Trends, as well as in the Not So Big Remodeling Book. Steve has worked on new residences in Minnesota, North Carolina, Alabama, and Arizona.
Tom graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with a Master of Architecture in 1995, following a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology from UW–Madison. Tom worked for Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York and Julie Snow Architects in Minneapolis, serving as Project Manager and Designer on projects ranging from libraries and multi-family housing to corporate campus master plans. While there, he managed the Great Plains Software 'Vista' building, which won an AIA Minnesota Honor Award in 2003. Tom has been with TEA2 Architects since 2004, and has been Project Manager and Designer for many residences — including additions to historic homes, historically-inspired new homes and even modernist interior renovations. His projects have been awarded two AIA “Home of the Month” Awards and a RAVE Award.
Petra has been with TEA2 Architects since 2000. Her work has been recognized by AIA Minnesota/Star Tribune "Home of the Month" and has won Blend Awards in 2012 and 2015. Petra graduated from the University of Colorado with a Master's Degree in Architecture in 1991, following a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from Columbia University in New York. She became licensed in 1993 and worked in Denver for an architectural firm on commercial, institutional and residential projects. Moving to Miami, Florida in 1995, she worked for an architectural firm on high-rise residential projects and art deco historic preservation projects on South Beach. She was an Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Miami, Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University. She has NCARB certification and is a Minnesota Green Associate.
Charlie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and received his Master of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Charlie has been with TEA2 since 2000 and has designed and managed projects of all scopes and sizes. Following projects through from the initial programming meeting to the final punch list, Charlie’s deft problem-solving abilities help the team achieve spaces that are beyond expectation.
Tyler holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and is a member of AIA, Minnesota. His expertise in the areas of lighting, landscaping and cost analysis are highly valued by the firm.
Matthew joined TEA2 in 2008, shortly after completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at the University of Minnesota. Since then, he’s completed his Master of Architecture at the U of M, has volunteered with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi following Katrina, and conducted research on the built environment in Venice and Tokyo. He was the recipient of AIA MN scholarship and his design thesis was shown as part of the Regis Art Center’s “Sacred Space, Contested Terrain” exhibit. Matthew was selected to the Minnesota Historical Society Symposium on the Built Environment lecture series for his undergraduate thesis.
Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics with a focus in Art History from Carleton College and received his Master of Architecture from Columbia University in 2005 where he was awarded the Lowenfish Memorial Prize. For 12 years, he maintained his own practice in New York City, which focused on the design of custom high-end residential architecture and interior projects. Prior to joining TEA2 in 2022, he served as Director of Design for a Minneapolis design-build firm, providing design leadership and helping raise the company’s profile within the Twin Cities. Michael finds great joy in working closely with clients to create homes that reflect their goals and aspirations in elegant and often unexpected ways. His passion for design comes from his belief that well-designed spaces have the ability to enhance and inspire the lives of those who inhabit them.
Ann, a graduate of Cornell University, received her Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 2004 and has been with TEA2 Architects since 2008. She has designed and managed projects of many different scales and personalities, and enjoys all aspects of the work—from schematic design through spec writing and bid analysis. She is passionate about design (as well as math, history, gardening, science and languages) and thoroughly enjoys the process of working with each client and the entire project team in creating the unique structure her clients will call home.
Aaron has over 10 years of experience in residential design. He has worked on multiple RAVE Award-winning projects and several that have been published in local magazines. Through thoughtful design, Aaron seeks to reveal the transcendence of place created at the meeting of architecture and nature, to encourage it to age gracefully, and to enrich the life of each individual that inhabits it. He has a passion for building resiliency into communities, at all scales. Aaron enjoys designing paper sculptures, sketching and exploring our City of Lakes. Aaron received a Master of Architecture and Certificate in Metropolitan Design from the University of Minnesota in 2012. Drawings from his award-winning thesis project have been featured in the UofM exhibition “100 Years of Student Drawings” and published in the book, “Graphic Design for Architects.” He received a BS in Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy from Drake University.
Tyler studied architecture in the rural landscape of western Montana, developing an appreciation for a building’s unique relationship with its site—the intersection of the natural and the manmade. He earned both his Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Design from Montana State University. Tyler brings over five years of high-end residential design experience to TEA2, much of it spent in New York City renovating town homes and condominiums.
After earning a Master of Architecture degree from Kansas State University, Josh practiced commercial/corporate interior architecture in Washington, D.C., receiving professional recognition with a handful of awards for projects around the world. Josh brings eight years experience in high-end interiors, along with an eye for detail. He is passionate about creating connections between interior/exterior, and built/natural, environments. Josh enjoys traveling to new cities and exploring different cultures to inform his work.
John brings a wide range of project experience to TEA2 Architects, including adaptive reuse, higher education, worship, and multi-family, as well as single-family residential, working in all phases of the design process from programming and schematics through construction administration. John received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota after previously completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in German from Gustavus Adolphus College. As a hockey coach for 15 years, he emphasized passion, teamwork, communication and respect among his players; these values also inform John’s approach to each building project from start to completion.
Before arriving at TEA2, Alex practiced urban, commercial, and multifamily housing design in Portland, OR. Projects ranged from district masterplans to commercial office lobbies. He earned his Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon, where he wrote about sustainable urban design and researched eco-district development patterns across Europe. His work and research at the largest scales have led him to see the home as the basis for great design. Alex earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Studies from Emory University and has performed with many regional theaters including the Georgia and Cincinnati Shakespeare companies.
Tom has been with TEA2 Architects since 2001 and continues to produce award-winning projects. Passionate about thoughtful design solutions, Tom excels at creating a collaborative process with attention to detail. Tom's interests include sustainability and building science, believing that homes should be creatively functional, yet mindful of the environment. Before studying at the University of Minnesota's College of Design, Tom received a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN. He started his career with other firms, with work ranging from schools and multi-family to churches and senior care facilities. Tom leads TEA2's technical team, and is responsible for ensuring projects adhere to TEA's rigorous level of quality detailing.
Peter is a native of Linden Hills who grew up appreciating the residential architecture surrounding Minneapolis’ chain of lakes. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Minnesota and recently graduated with his Master's in Architecture. Peter developed an interest in urban design while living and studying in Paris, Rome, and Istanbul, and gained a deeper understanding of the power and importance of high quality public space within a city. He never leaves home without his sketchbook.
From a young age, Gerte was captivated by visual art. But she didn’t see herself as a painter or sculptor, and chose architecture to combine her keen interest in the visual with her aptitude for math and science. What fascinates her most about architecture is the experimentation with shape, experience in the space, and narrative behind each building. Gerte holds a Bachelor of Architecture from her home country, Lithuania, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle. She loves to travel—and whenever she has a chance, she wanders around the city with her film camera, looking for “that shot.”
Coltan received his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Notre Dame, which grounds its education on the timeless principles of classical design. Before moving back to his home state of Minnesota and joining TEA2 Architects, Coltan gained experience in New York and Chicago, working on high-end residences all over the country. While in New York, Coltan received the Stanford White Award, a regional honor for excellence in classical and new traditional design. The design focused on the holistic relationship between architecture, art, and the landscape. With each project, Coltan strives to create a sense of place from the original idea down to the details and materials, resulting in homes that look and feel like they belong. Outside of architecture, Coltan spends his free time following his passion for art through oil painting, mostly outdoors, as a way to experience and learn about the places he visits and lives in.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Ruth has always been fascinated with the city’s history and buildings. Through her membership in many historic preservation organizations including the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, Linden Hills History Study Group, and DOCOMOMO (Documentation & Conservation of the Modern Movement), she has had the opportunity to travel widely, trading ideas with people from all around the world who share her fascination with historic architecture.
Ruth earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Minneapolis Community College and studied Architectural Technology at Minneapolis Technical Institute. Ruth joined TEA2 in 2002, and helps the firm establish and refine its approach to workflow and drafting standards.
Dave joined TEA2 in the spring of 2018 after nearly 20 years in research science. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Physiology from the University of Minnesota in 1999, his career change began in 2007 with architecture and design classes at the U of M and Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He earned an Architectural Technology degree from Dakota County Technical College in May of 2018. Dave's move into the world of architecture was driven by a lifelong interest in beautiful structures, how they work, how they're built, and the relationships formed between those structures and the people who use them.
Growing up, Lily was always attentive to detail, whether perfecting her form for gymnastics or sketching her surroundings. Her awareness of details affecting outcomes made her want to figure out how the elements affect the whole, which led her to study biology. But, missing the creative aspect of her nature, she made a switch to architecture - where both creativity and science are essential.
Lily graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and minor in biology. Lily's passion for details and how they affect the outcome pushes her to look at every aspect of a project to create intricate and aesthetic designs. And while she no longer practices gymnastics, you may catch her doing a cartwheel as she runs around the Minneapolis Lakes.
As Chloe grew up, she was surrounded by and enjoyed piano, costume design, set design and construction, painting and ceramics. After her parents purchased a home as a fixer-upper, she had the opportunity to observe and work on many woodworking projects with them. Her pursuit of design as a career emerged from this foundation, sparked by a suggestion from her mom: “Maybe you should try architecture." Chloe graduated in 2018 from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Design in Architecture and minors in Landscape Design & Planning and Construction Management. She is interested in architecture not as a singularity, but as it relates to other disciplines—and she seeks to understand the process of building from beginning to end.
Growing up in northern Minnesota, Faith spent most of her time outdoors—camping, hiking, and kayaking. She also loved to draw, and a high school engineering class made her aware of her aptitude for spatial thinking. Five years later in 2020, Faith graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and minor in Earth Sciences. She continues her education today at the University of Oregon, studying for a master's degree in architecture, specializing in advanced building technology as it relates to ecological design.
Lizzie's passion for architecture began at a young age, filling sketchbooks with floorplans and elevations of homes for imaginary families. Her aptitude has since been fueled by world travel (exposing her to different forms of design and architectural philosophies) and education. Lizzie graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 2020. Optimistic about architecture's ability to positively affect our future, she believes working as a designer will help improve local and global environments and the lives of others.
Architecture was always the only dream for Ben; there has never been a plan B. While earning his Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the University of Minnesota, Ben studied urban design in Copenhagen, Denmark. But he has found that he especially enjoys the emotional investment in and subsequent payoff of residential architecture, which is so closely connected to clients’ lives. Ben appreciates architecture that brings in light and thoughtfully designed detailing, whether the aesthetic is simple or more elaborate. Outside of architecture, he enjoys caring for his many plants, vegan baking, Nordic skiing, distance running, and exploring the Twin Cities with pals.
Alexis's interest in architecture stemmed from her lifelong passions of drawing, the built environment, and problem solving. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2021 with a Bachelor of Design in Architecture and minors in art and environmental science. While in school, she developed a fascination for the way that built and natural environments can blend, as well as how design can positively impact the human experience. Outside of work, Alexis enjoys spending time at the lakes, learning new recipes to cook, and experimenting with various art media.
Tracy grew up in the deep south and enjoyed exploring old buildings on her parents’ farm, where her love of preservation began. Tracy has always been fascinated by the small details that turn a house into home, and brings her love of detail and tradition to TEA2. She holds a BA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and is a master’s candidate in Historic Preservation at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Tracy spent the early part of her career working in San Antonio as a part of an award-winning residential architecture firm. When not working, she enjoys dragging her family on tours of historic dwellings across the country.
Michelle has worked as an office administrator since 1991 and brought her experience, expertise and keen attention to detail to TEA2 in 2015. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art with a concentration in film and photography from the College of St. Benedict. While there, she also studied accounting, economics and business management, which have proven invaluable to working in business within a creative field.
Tom graduated in 1970 from the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. After working in Boston for a Community Action Program, building a geodesic dome in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and working for the Navaho Indian Tribe in Window Rock Arizona, he designed and built several houses in the Minneapolis area. In the late 1970’s Tom and colleague John Carmody were major contributors to the book Earth Sheltered Housing Design: Guidelines, Examples & References published by the University of Minnesota. Tom later co-authored another book called Earth Sheltered Homes.
In 1980, Tom founded TEA Architects, and was instrumental in guiding the firm to becoming an industry leader in the three crucial areas: design, professionalism and technical expertise. Retired since 2013, Tom’s work during his career at TEA2 has been published in dozens of local and national magazines and books. It has also won awards from the Minneapolis Chapter of the AIA, Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission and St Paul Chapter of the AIA, and has received the AIA Minnesota/ MplsStPaul Magazine RAVE Award and AIA Minnesota/ Star Tribune “Home of the Month” Award on multiple occasions. In 2010 Tom was also named Architect of Distinction by the Minnesota Society of Architects and Midwest Home Magazine.
The fire station was built during a time when the population of Minneapolis was growing rapidly and the Linden Hills neighborhood was evolving from a remote lakeside community to a fully integrated neighborhood. The station was the second-to-last originally built by the city, and it was the first to be designed solely for motorized equipment. In contrast to horse-drawn rigs which required more space, time and care, motorized trucks were relatively inexpensive and efficient. Motorized fire-fighting trucks reformed the service by expanding territorial coverage and decreasing response time. By 1993, the charming, tucked-away nature of the neighborhood lead the city to relocate the functional fire station to two new locations with better response times.
The original fire station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by TEA2 and converted into a restaurant and TEA2’s own office. When the city sold the fire station, the neighborhood was tasked with selecting the new owner based on who they felt the best steward of the building would be. TEA2 won out by an overwhelming majority, as the association believed they would best create the best connection for the building to the neighborhood. The fire station still continues to charm neighborhood visitors and residents, as well as clients, and gracefully support the daily activities of TEA2.