WHY 45?

Founded in 2006 by Ted Barnhill and John Larsen, our studio is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota near the 45th parallel north. We are acutely aware of what it means to live where July days are long and warm and where the sun arcs low across the southern sky in cold, dark December. Our designs reflect the need for bright, warm spaces in winter and cool, shaded areas in summer.


Design Forty Five is dedicated to a fun, creative and engaging design process, characterized by great service and grounded in social and environmental responsibility.

Community Service and Philanthropy

We are fortunate to live in a time and place of relative privilege — we wish to actively and strategically share our talents and resources. The partners of Design Forty Five donate at least 25% of our gross income to non-profit organizations. Some organizations for which we have volunteered:

Ted Barnhill

Ted’s diverse background includes work as a software developer, campaign staffer, backcountry ranger and building contractor.  He has been a professional building designer since 1999.  His work spans a broad range of project types, from residential design/build to sustainable public, educational and institutional buildings.

Ted’s undergraduate degree, in mathematics, is from Princeton University.  As a Master of Architecture student at the University of Minnesota, he was awarded the KKE Prize for exemplary studio work.  Throughout his academic and professional career, Ted’s work has explored ways to minimize the impact of buildings on the natural environment.

Ted lives with his wife, writer Kelly Barnhill, and their three children in what once was a 1920’s Minneapolis bungalow, and which they are perpetually renovating.

John Larsen

Prior to co-founding Design 45, LLC in 2006, John worked for 10 years in professional design.  From 2002-2006, he ran his own residential design firm, Ironwood Design, LLC.  Before founding Ironwood Design, John worked with Thorbeck Architects, Ltd. on a variety of project types: institutional, commercial, public, historic, residential and urban planning.

John received his Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 1996 where he was honored with the Henry Adams Award for graduating student with the highest cumulative grade point average.  While finishing his degree, John was the lead researcher for the Rural Affordable Housing Project sponsored by then-Dean of the College, Harrison Fraker.

In addition to his professional practice, John is an active member of his community.  He serves on boards of various organizations and is particularly dedicated to philanthropy and social justice.  John lives with his partner Mike, their foster-daughter Rosie and Sadie the mostly-beagle in Minneapolis.

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