written by:
September 5, 2013
Originally published in City Living
as
Reinventing Fargo
Amid the tall grasses and open skies of the Great Plains, forward-thinking urban planning ideas take root in North Dakota.
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  Fargo native son Doug Burgum stands on his rooftop deck. Landscape architect Brian Reinarts outfitted the space with local grasses and plants, LED-illuminated privacy screens, and a natural-gas fireplace. Photo by: David Bowman

    Fargo native son Doug Burgum stands on his rooftop deck. Landscape architect Brian Reinarts outfitted the space with local grasses and plants, LED-illuminated privacy screens, and a natural-gas fireplace.

    Photo by: David Bowman

  • 
  The Fargo Theatre at night.  Photo by: David Bowman

    The Fargo Theatre at night. 

    Photo by: David Bowman

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  A frequent entertainer, Doug Burgum created the ultimate rooftop hangout for his Fargo, North Dakota, residence. With a few deft touches, architect Chris Hawley and landscape architect Brian Reinarts of Land Elements designed a space that can be used year-round and pays homage to the region. Photo by: David Bowman

    A frequent entertainer, Doug Burgum created the ultimate rooftop hangout for his Fargo, North Dakota, residence. With a few deft touches, architect Chris Hawley and landscape architect Brian Reinarts of Land Elements designed a space that can be used year-round and pays homage to the region.

    Photo by: David Bowman

  • 
  The tricked-out outdoor kitchen features a fleet of appliances from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. The company's K750HB Hybrid Fire Grill anchors the space and offers burners and a grill that can be fueled with wood or charcoal. An Energy Star–rated outdoor refrigerator and ample weatherproof storage ensures that all cooking and prep can take place on the deck—no running back and forth between inside and out. "It's a wonderful kitchen," says Burgum. "One of the things I've appreciated the most is a full venting system over the grill. Being able to pull the heat and the smoke away when you're grilling is a key. The team anticipated the need for a refrigerator and the two burner stove. There isn't anything you can't cook up there—maybe just a cake!" Photo by: David Bowman

    The tricked-out outdoor kitchen features a fleet of appliances from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. The company's K750HB Hybrid Fire Grill anchors the space and offers burners and a grill that can be fueled with wood or charcoal. An Energy Star–rated outdoor refrigerator and ample weatherproof storage ensures that all cooking and prep can take place on the deck—no running back and forth between inside and out.

    "It's a wonderful kitchen," says Burgum. "One of the things I've appreciated the most is a full venting system over the grill. Being able to pull the heat and the smoke away when you're grilling is a key. The team anticipated the need for a refrigerator and the two burner stove. There isn't anything you can't cook up there—maybe just a cake!"

    Photo by: David Bowman

  • 
  Burgum opted for locally sourced reclaimed wood from a demolished barn to build sections of the pergola covering the cookspace. Photo by: David Bowman

    Burgum opted for locally sourced reclaimed wood from a demolished barn to build sections of the pergola covering the cookspace.

    Photo by: David Bowman

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  The deck is designed for all seasons. In the blazing summer sun, people can hang out under covered areas. In the winter and at night, a basalt-and-steel fire pit, powered by natural gas, keeps everyone warm. Burgum was conscious to go for an open flame rather than infrared heaters since it encourages people to gather around as a group for conversation. "When the sun goes down and the chill comes in, you can turn the fire on and it extends the evening," says Burgum. The privacy screen is lit with energy-efficient LED bulbs. Native plants and grasses soften the space and were selected for their hardiness and for being low-maintenance. The railing is ipe and the floor tile is natural basalt. Photo by: David Bowman

    The deck is designed for all seasons. In the blazing summer sun, people can hang out under covered areas. In the winter and at night, a basalt-and-steel fire pit, powered by natural gas, keeps everyone warm. Burgum was conscious to go for an open flame rather than infrared heaters since it encourages people to gather around as a group for conversation. "When the sun goes down and the chill comes in, you can turn the fire on and it extends the evening," says Burgum. The privacy screen is lit with energy-efficient LED bulbs. Native plants and grasses soften the space and were selected for their hardiness and for being low-maintenance. The railing is ipe and the floor tile is natural basalt.

    Photo by: David Bowman

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reinventing fargo doug burgum outside

Fargo native son Doug Burgum stands on his rooftop deck. Landscape architect Brian Reinarts outfitted the space with local grasses and plants, LED-illuminated privacy screens, and a natural-gas fireplace.

Photo by: David Bowman

Like many low-density cities, Fargo, North Dakota (population 107,000), is a victim of sprawl. To combat his hometown’s swelling city limits, developer Doug Burgum applied the infill and adaptive reuse lessons he gleaned while living in San Francisco and Chicago. “You can’t have a healthy community without a healthy core,“ he says. “And people want to live in a vibrant core, whether it’s in Fargo or in California.”

Burgum’s company, the Kilbourne Group, is hard at work developing downtown Fargo properties, like the Lofts on Roberts—a former office and warehouse that lay vacant for 26 years. Today its residential units are 100 percent occupied. Burgum lives in one of his own infill projects, 300 Broadway, a condominium sited on a former parking lot adjacent to the historic Fargo Theatre. “My mother, Katherine Kilbourne Burgum, grew up here,” says Burgum. “In the 1970s, when I was growing up in nearby Arthur, North Dakota, we would come to downtown Fargo. She would always be saddened by another business closing, another building being torn down. We named Kilbourne Group after her to honor her memory of a vibrant city.” From his rooftop deck, Burgum can survey the downtown that he’s been working to reinvigorate—one filled with a diverse mix of people, new businesses, a stronger sense of community, and a clear vision for the future.

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