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Minnesota Architects Build Award-Winning Quonset Hut

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Q-Model workshop with custom front end wall
Kara Hill Studio’s SteelMaster Quonset Hut in the woods of Togo, Minnesota

In northern Minnesota, in a remote location on the edge of the iron and timber ranges, you’ll find a 30′ X 60′ Q-model SteelMaster Quonset Hut tucked away in the woods.

The project was completed by Kara Hill Studio, a Minneapolis- based architecture firm that is experienced in art centers, museums, theaters, performing art centers, and other public buildings.

Kara Hill and her husband, both architects, wanted to use a SteelMaster Quonset Hut as a simple storage building for their projects.

“We have been in love with Quonset Huts forever,” Hill said. “We both love how structurally efficient they are and we love the shape, we just think they’re beautiful buildings.”

Part of the reason why the couple chose a Quonset Hut was because of its snow load strength and wind resistance.

Brutally cold temperatures, high winds, heavy snow, and frozen ground are all things that folks in northern Minnesota have to deal with frequently. SteelMaster’s durable, metal Quonset Huts are engineered to handle the heaviest snow loads in any region.

Any of our models can accommodate these loads including the A-Model, S-Model, the classic Q-Model, and the X-Model which is the most popular for heavy snow.

They also appreciated the lack of maintenance required and the simplicity of construction. The couple put the Quonset Hut together in a week with the help of friends.

Virtually anyone can take a simple SteelMaster building kit and build any kind of structure the imagination can dream up.  One of the many advantages of a SteelMaster Quonset Hut is that they are do-it-yourself and can be assembled by you, the customer. Over eighty percent of customers construct their own buildings, resulting in huge labor cost savings. Seventy percent of the work is done on the ground with only one-size nut and bolt.

Hill found out about SteelMaster through an advertisement for one of our clearance sales. She purchased an existing building on clearance and bought additional arches to create porches on both sides of the structure. The building’s endwalls are made from three-foot-long sections of cedar tree fragments. The porches shield the endwalls from the rain and sun to protect the cedar flares from rotting.

“Since we’re in such a remote location, one of the greatest things about having a SteelMaster building is that the Quonset came on one pallet. So with our windy wood roads, it was very easy to get the Quonset there.”

Sustainability is a common theme in both the Quonset Hut and in all of Kara Hill Studio’s designs.

“[Sustainability] is something that we really try to emphasize to people. The SteelMaster Quonset Hut is extremely sustainable because it’s so little material for what it is, it’s fantastic,” Hill said.

All SteelMaster buildings, whether they are specifically green, eco-friendly buildings or not, are made of at least 80 percent recycled steel and are covered in Galvalume Plus coating, which reduces energy consumption by reflecting heat. This keeps buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Hill and her husband worked with local loggers and steel workers who used locally available materials of steel remnants and cedar logs for the endwalls.

“Our neighbor’s a logger and he just had all of these rotting trees and logs and we thought ‘Hey, we could make this work.’”

A local welder used steel scraps to make doors that are divided horizontally, commonly known as Dutch doors. The lower halves of the doors are closed to keep animals out while allowing a breeze to come through the open half of the door.

In addition to winning second place in the 2018 SteelMaster Photo Contest, the Quonset Hut won a 2017 American Institute of Architects Minnesota Honor Award.

“The judges, they’re nationally known architects who selected us, just talked about how interesting it was as a building. We’ve been getting great feedback online,” Hill said. “I just think people are more and more excited about Quonset huts and manufactured buildings like that.”

Hill also praised SteelMaster’s team of experienced design specialists.

“It was fantastic the whole way through. Whenever we called, they would put us with somebody technical who would answer our questions,” she said.  “I had a stellar experience with SteelMaster. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you. It was great.”