founding partner | lead designer

Kurt Gough

Assoc. AIA

Kurt’s diverse design experience brings to Shelter’s projects a point of view that is rare among architecture firms. It’s a key component in the award-winning work that fills our portfolio.

Kurt believes one of our most powerful tools is the design process. As a project’s plans take shape, he excels at identifying critical design elements, simplifying solutions, solving specialty constructions, planning for challenging spaces, developing presentation graphics and designing customized construction details.

Kurt co-founded Shelter in 2004. His journey can be traced back to his youth, when he demonstrated an early aptitude for drawing. Later, his passion for art and theater became the focus of his studies at St. Olaf College. Kurt began his career in the theater industry, spending nearly a decade as a scenic designer, prop artisan and painter for institutions including the Guthrie Theater and Baltimore Center Stage. He began his next act by earning his Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota and working for two Twin Cities firms before taking on his role as a Shelter founding partner.

Today, Kurt uses his design talents both in and outside of the Shelter studio. He is currently on the board of the Mixed Blood Theater, is the former chairman of the board of Forecast Public Art, and an instructor of architecture in the art department at St. Olaf College. As a member of Mayflower UCC in Minneapolis, Kurt has helped spearhead the church’s Earthwise initiative to achieve a carbon neutral facility by 2030. He is still active as a theatrical set designer and recently designed and built props and sets for independent and Hollywood studio films.

Community Engagement
  • Board of Directors, Mixed Blood Theater (2023-Present)
  • Committee Chair, Troop 187, Boy Scouts of America (2016-2021)
  • Advisory Board, Dodge Nature Preschool (2009-2010)
  • Board of Directors & Former Board Chair, Forecast Public Art (2008-2017)
  • Committee Member & Former Chair Co-chair, Lake Superior Design Retreat, AIA MN (2005-present)
  • Organizing Committee, Habitat 500-Habitat for Humanity MN (2001-2012)