James Dayton Design is a full-service architectural firm based in Minneapolis. Focusing primarily on contemporary design solutions, our work includes projects in residential, educational, commercial, not-for-profit, and arts-focused contexts.

On Wednesday, February 13th, James Dayton unexpectedly passed away at his home in Long Lake, Minnesota. Jim’s generosity, kindness, integrity, and talent were evident in everything he touched, and the sudden loss of our dear friend and colleague will leave a permanent void in our hearts and lives. With a deep dedication to his clients and the profession, he held himself and those around him to the highest ideals. He was a master of his craft; a leader, a visionary, and a unique design voice. Most importantly, Jim was a loving husband, proud father, and a wonderful friend.

Jim grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota. He attended the Blake School and then The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. Jim graduated from Yale with a BA in Architecture in 1987 and received his Masters of Architecture from the University of Virginia in 1991 where he received the AIA Scholastic Gold Medal. Jim received the Minnesota Young Architect Award in 2005 and the American Institute of Architects Young Architect Award in 2006.

Jim’s vision for his firm was a practice based on collaboration, honesty, integrity, and a deep belief in using innovative design to create thoughtful spaces that serve clients well and contribute positively to the community. This vision and the practice Jim founded will continue under the leadership of four of JDD’s long time leadership team: Patrick Regan, Robert Hunter, Angela Varpness, and Abby Jensen.

James Dayton Design has designed a number of highly acclaimed buildings and public spaces that have greatly influenced the Twin Cities’ architectural landscape, including: Minnetonka Center for the Arts, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, The Blake School, MacPhail Center for Music, and most recently, the addition to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. 

Prior to opening JDD, Jim worked for Frank O. Gehry in Los Angeles. During his tenure there, Jim was a design team member on numerous notable projects including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Montreal. Perhaps the most profound impact on Jim during his time in Gehry’s office was learning from the interaction between Frank and his artist colleagues, such as Richard Serra, Claes Oldenburg, and Coosje van Bruggen.

An artist at heart, Jim was a talented and prolific painter, sketcher, calligrapher, photographer, and expert fishing fly tyer. Jim’s passion for art and the Twin Cities arts community heavily influenced his philanthropic and volunteer work. Over the years, Jim served on and led a number of non-profit boards including Walker Art Center, MacPhail Center for Music, University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum, and Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis.

We feel deeply privileged to have known and worked with Jim Dayton. Words fail to express our deep sorrow at the loss of our good friend and colleague. We continue to take inspiration from the lessons he imparted and comfort in knowing him.

  • James G. Dayton, AIA Founder
  • Robert A. Hunter, AIA Principal / rhunter@jddltd.com
  • Patrick Regan, AIA Principal / pregan@jddltd.com
  • Angela Varpness, AIA Principal / avarpness@jddltd.com
  • Abby Jensen Principal / ajensen@jddltd.com
  • Peter Aamoth Design Staff
  • Charlie Townsley Design Staff
  • Gretchen deGrood Design Staff
  • Ian Nielsen-Fox Design Staff
  • Lydia Ruppert Intern
  • Ava Elofson Intern
  • Architecture for JDD, Ltd. is a first-person empirical phenomenon. It is about making thoughtful, well-crafted spaces that serve clients well and contribute positively to the built environment in a creative and innovative way.



    Westminster Presbyterian Church

    ACEC/MN Engineering Excellence
    Grand Award – AKF Group


    Westminster Presbyterian Church

    Greening & Public Realm Award
    Small Green Space & Public Realm Improvement

  3. 2018
    Westminster Presbyterian Church

    Minnesota Construction Association Award of Excellence
    Subcontractor/Specialty Contractor Project of the Year – Empirehouse

  4. 2018
    The Village – Wayzata

    MSCA Starr Award
    Design & Aesthetics Renovation/Remodel



    MSCA STARR award for Design & Aesthetics Renovation/Remodel

  6. 2015
    The Bachelor Farmer

    AIA LA – Restaurant Design Award

  7. 2012
    The Bachelor Farmer

    Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Award Best Restoration/Rehabilitation

  8. 2012
    The Bachelor Farmer

    Charlie Award for Best Restaurant Design, Twin Cities

  9. 2012
    MacPhail Center for Music

    Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine Best Classical Music Venue in Twin Cities

  10. 2011
    Highpoint Center for Printmaking

    American Institute of Architects Minneapolis: Merit Award

  11. 2011
    Northland Executive Office Center

    TOBY Award (The Office Building of the Year, Midwest Region)

  12. 2008
    MacPhail Center for Music

    American Institute of Architects Minneapolis: Merit Award

  13. 2008
    MacPhail Center for Music

    International Illumination Design Award from the Midwest Region

  14. 2007
    The Blake School at Highcroft

    NAIOP Award of Excellence

  15. 2006
    MacPhail Center for Music

    Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s Best in Real Estate Award

  16. 2006
    James G. Dayton, AIA

    National American Institute of Architects: Young Architects Award

  17. 2005
    James G. Dayton, AIA

    American Institute of Architects Minnesota: Young Architects Citation

  18. 2005
    Minnetonka Center for the Arts

    American Institute of Architects Minnesota: Honor Award

  19. 2003
    Minnetonka Center for the Arts

    American Institute of Architects Minneapolis: Merit Award

  20. 2000
    St. Paul Headhouse/Sackhouse competition

    Selected as one of four winners from over 200 entries from 17 countries


  1. House Beautiful

    This Minnesota Colonial Sets the Scene with Boatloads of Art and Color

  2. Mpls St. Paul Magazine

    The View from Here

  3. Star Tribune

    Instagram’s best friend: Why Minneapolis’ Lynhall is the best-designed restaurant of the year”

  4. Star Tribune

    “10 reasons Why Lynhall in Minneapolis is casual dining’s new role model” by Rick Nelson

  5. Architecture MN Magazine

    “Eric Dayton Interview” by Joel Hoekstra

  6. Star Tribune

    “Four stars for the remade Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis” by Rick Nelson

  7. Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine

    “Trend Alert: Geo Catch” by Jennifer Blaise Kramer

  8. The Growler Magazine

    “Grand Designs: Alma is expanding to make you feel more at home” by Erin Kincheloe

  9. Star Tribune

    “In a stellar year for restaurant design, these Twin Cities hot spots stood out” by Rick Nelson

  10. Star Tribune

    “Photos: Westminster Church’s Minneapolis Expansion”

  11. Star Tribune

    “Coming Sunday: The Bachelor Farmer’s daytime café” by Rick Nelson

  12. Interior Design magazine

    “A Nordic Yarn” by Edie Cohen

  13. The New York Times

    “A Return to Nordic Roots” by Julia Moskin

  14. Star Tribune

    “Two SOGs walk into a bar…” by Tom Horgen

  15. Minnesota Monthly

    “Hot Plate” by Rachel Hutton

  16. Twin Cities Design Scene

    “MN Architect Profile: James Dayton Design”

  17. Twin Cities Metro Magazine

    “His, Hers, Theirs” by Kitty Shea

  18. Star Tribune

    “Architect gives shoe store the boot” by Patrick Kennedy

  19. Star Tribune

    “An architect-designed boot” by Claude Peck

  20. Star Tribune

    “Bachelor Farmer is Restaurant of the Year” by Rick Nelson

  21. Twin Cities Metro Magazine

    “Restaurant of the Year” by Mecca Bos

  22. Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine

    “Scandi Pop” by Jennifer Blaise Kramer

  23. Luxe Magazine

    “Cubic Equation” by Caren Kurlander

  24. Twin Cities Metro Magazine

    “Three in One” by Chris Clayton

  25. Minneapolis Saint Paul Magazine

    “Starchitect James Dayton” by S.D.

  26. Twin Cities Daily Planet

    “Highpoint Center for Printmaking opens grand new home on Lake Street” by Mason Riddle

  27. Minnesota Public Radio

    “Highpoint Center for Printmaking gets a new home” by Marianne Combs

  28. Star Tribune

    “Mom ‘n’ pop shop for printmaking” by Mary Abbe

  29. Architectural Record online

    Building Type Study: Performing Arts- MacPhail Center for Music

  30. Star Tribune

    “Music Box” by Mary Abbe

  31. Minnesota Public Radio

    “MacPail’s new Center for Music” by Marianne Combs

  32. Minnesota Monthly

    “The Next Starchitect?” by Michael Tortorello

  33. Architectural Record online

    “The Guthrie Spurs Development on Minneapolis Riverfront” by Bette Hammel

  34. Walker Art Center | DRAWN HERE-

    Contemporary Design in Conversation Discussion with Thomas Fisher

  35. Minnesota Public Radio

    “A new home for music in Minneapolis” by Marianne Combs

  36. Star Tribune

    “Glitzy, ritzy condos planned on Minneapolis riverfront” by Linda Mack

  37. Architectural Record

    “Minnetonka Center for the Arts” by John E. Czarnecki

  38. Architectural Record

    “Not just another Minnesota Dayton” by John E. Czarnecki

  39. Architecture Minnesota

    “Housing for Lifestyles”

  40. Architecture Minnesota

    “The Minnetonka Center for the Arts introduces…” by Thomas Fisher

  41. Star Tribune

    “Stately new arts center shows its metal” by Linda Mac

  42. Star Tribune

    “‘Center piece” by Linda Mack