Passion, discipline, hard work, and perseverance are essential to living a fulfilling life, Von Petersen says. He brings his all to everything he does. The architect’s goal, he says, is to “die empty” and not leave anything inside. Von gravitates toward ideas that some may consider absurd or too “out there.” He brings strategy and learning to the table, allowing him to listen to an audacious idea, riff on how to make it happen, activate it, then guide a client and project team through making that idea become real. Watching the Brooklyn Center School District improve how it serves students has been memorable to Von. An antiquated school was not conducive to how the teachers taught or the students learned. Facilities and goals were out of alignment. “Having the opportunity to work with them toward a successful referendum and then creating a 21st century school was immensely rewarding,” Von says. “I take pride that the buildings won’t get in their way any longer and should serve them well into the future.” Extracurricular activities include Cub Scouts, serving on the advisory board for his sons’ school, the Believe in Me bike ride, and providing exhibit support at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in Rochester.