A significant force behind some of southern Minnesota’s recognizable buildings is hanging up his T-square. After 44 years of practice, David Kane is retiring from a long and successful architectural career.
David Kane is noted for his design of buildings such as Olmsted National Bank and the Widseth Smith Nolting office building (formerly Home Design Studio), both on West Circle Drive in Rochester, Minnesota, and the Steele County History Center in Owatonna, Minnesota.
David Kane began his career under the tutelage of his father, Warren Kane, who practiced architecture in Austin, Minnesota. Warren Kane’s design of the Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo Bank) on North Main Street in Austin is one of the area’s earliest uses of weathered steel, which forms the dramatic cantilevered high roof at the main entry façade.
One of David Kane’s favorite memories of learning from his father was in the early 1970s while he was still in in college. “Dad submitted for two church projects, one in International Falls (competing with 13 other firms) and another in Grand Marais (one of eight firms). The interviews were one or two days apart, so we did a road trip interviewing first at International Falls followed by Grand Marais. Driving down the North Shore after the second interview Dad asked how we did, and I said I thought we got both projects. He laughed and said, ‘No way!’ and that experience would teach me to be more realistic. We got them both!” Warren Kane published an article in the national magazine Our Church on designing small rural churches and was recognized as an expert in church design.
David Kane joined his father’s practice after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Environmental Design in 1974. Within less than a year, David Kane found himself at the head of the firm upon his father’s untimely death. He carried on his father’s legacy by providing rural Minnesota with planning and design that was personal, functional, yet reflected a high-quality aesthetic.
He oversaw the growth of the firm under the banners of David Kane Planning and Design, Kane and Cox Architects, and, finally, Kane and Johnson Architects (KJA). The practice expanded to Rochester through the 1988 acquisition of Pieper Richmond Architects as well as into Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Kansas City, Kansas. In 1990, Kane moved from Austin to Rochester and later sold the Austin practice to his business partner.
KJA survived five major recessions between 1978 and 2008, ultimately downsizing and regrouping the practice in Rochester. With its extensive portfolio and solid reputation, KJA was acquired in 2014 by Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN), a firm of 200 employees and eight offices across Minnesota and North Dakota.
Throughout his career, David Kane’s passion has been helping churches accommodate growth and changes in mission. He has designed more than 250 church projects from small renovations, to medium sized additions, to large new buildings. He has designed prominent government, commercial, casino, hospitality, and educational facilities helping clients bring their visions to life.
From his earliest days working with his father to his work with WSN, David Kane has been a driving force leading teams of creative, dedicated designers and completing hundreds of architectural projects.
WSN’s Rochester office is hosting an open house in celebration of Kane’s career on January 15, 2019, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Sarah Mattson at Sarah.Mattson@wsn.us.com or (507) 206-2122.