Design in the Hills


Design in the Hills 2019

Greetings from Jenn Johnson, the 2019 AIA SD Design in the Hills Committee chair. The committee extends a big "Thank you" to Kris Bjerke, who has served as committee chair and has led the planning of the conference since it started in 2011!

This year's conference is planned for July 18-19 in Rapid City. For those who haven’t attended in previous years, Design in the Hills is a unique gathering of architects, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers and artists from across the state, along with members of the community to celebrate and elevate the standard of design work in the Black Hills. Each year, we focus on projects and places of interest in the Black Hills communities, rotating the event between the various cities in the region. This conference is unique in the design world; while there are sponsors and continuing education credits, very little of it is provided in a traditional classroom setting.

The conference is interactive and mobile. A full day of tours and presentations is followed by a half day primarily filled by a multi-disciplinary design charrette that tackles an interesting project from that year's community of focus. Look for the upcoming blog post about Design in the Hills on Friday on the AIA SD blog Blueprint South Dakota (

The deadline for AIA South Dakota's call for presentations for building tours, walking tours, presentations and workshops to be presented at Design in the Hills 2019 is closed.


Recap of Design in the Hills 2018 - New Ruralism: Custer

Thursday, July 19

7:45 a.m.

Meet in the parking lot of Rapid City High School, 601 Columbus St.

9:10 a.m.

Facility tour: SLIC-e Campus (1 LU/HSW) – What's next for STAR Academy?: SLIC-e (Sustainable Light Industrial Campus & eco-ecological economics), from Gene Fennell, AIA, Fennel Design Inc.; Tanya Olson, PLA, ASLA, Tallgrass Landscape Architecture and Jared Carson, SLIC-e CEO and former Custer mayor

10:10-10:45 a.m.

RAW Student Design - Build Courses (1 LU/HSW) – Paul Neseth, AIA, Locus Architecture

paulsm.jpgNESETH BIO: Although Paul Neseth intended to be an architect since the age of ten he spent many years working and studying in areas peripheral to architecture.  From pouring concrete for grain-bins on Southern Minnesota farms to teaching woodworking to native Bajans in Barbados to cutting mortise and tenon joints in China, Paul has merged his talents in design and construction with his desire for travel, learning and diversity.  Paul brings that passion for creative, new architectural ideas to the firm through investigations into alternative construction methods and materials.  Outside of architecture, Paul has designed items as diverse as furniture, lighting fixtures, remote control switches, automobile brakes and children’s toys. He has been a member of the faculty of the University of Minnesota College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and is currently a mayoral appointee for the Committee on Urban Environment in Minneapolis.

11 a.m.

RAW Dakota 2011 - The Hearth (1 LU/HSW) – campsite and overlook – Paul Neseth

Noon-12:45 p.m

Catered outdoor lunch at campsite - Provided by Ro-Batta Asian Cowboy Grill

1 p.m.

Rural Renewal: Pacer Spar Plant Industrial Site Revitilization tour (1 LU/HSW)

2 p.m.

Facilty tour - Custer Community Center, old elementary school (1 LU/HSW) – Gene Fennell, AIA, Fennel Design Inc.

2:45 p.m.

Regional Health Custer Hospital and Clinic Healing Garden (1 LU/HSW) – Tanya Olson, PLA ASLA, Tallgrass Landscape Architecture

3:30 p.m.

Mount Rushmore presentation - Mount Rushmore Society Executive Director Diana Nielsen Saathoff / Cheryl Schreier, Mount Rushmore Superintendent, Room 120

4:30-5:30 p.m

Evening mixer - Mt. Rushmore Brewing Company, Custer (Food and beverage sponsored by Hebron Brick Supply)

6:30 p.m.

Return to Rapid City High School

Friday, July 20 - Black Hills State University (University Center), 4300 Cheyenne Blvd.

7:30-8 a.m

Sign in, coffee, exhibitor setup - Atrium

8 a.m.

Burning Beetle presentation – Hank Fridell, Burning Beetle committee leader

9:15-9:45 a.m.

Visit sponsor exhibits - Atrium

9:45-11:45 a.m.

Rural Renewal: Pacer Spar Plaint Industrial Site Revilalization Charrette (2 LU/HSW) - Room 120


SD AIA Summer Membership Meeting, Room 120

gagebrothers200.jpg westplainsengineering200.jpg
syversontile200.jpg hebronbrick200.jpg
journeygroup200.png tallgrass200.png

Thanks to Gage Brothers, Hebron Brick Supply, Syverson Tile & Stone, West Plains Engineering, Journey Group, Bridger Steel and Tallgrass Landscape Architecture for sponsoring the 2018 event.

Design in the Hills is open to all design professionals, including architects, interior designers, landscape architects, planners, interns and students.

Design in the Hills 2017, “Adaptations,” focused on the expansion of downtown Rapid City “Past Fifth,” from downtown to the School of Mines campus. It included tours of several adaptive re-use projects, a charrette on “Supported Housing” with a special Duluth Housing Model presentation and a bus tour to the Bridger Steel facility near Blackhawk.

Design in the Hills program

Click on the image below to view the full program.