Everyone agrees that The Twin Cities needs a public sauna. We’ve been saying it for years, and now—finally—it’s happening!

I’m thrilled to be working with The Little Box Sauna team on a plan to mobilize, open and operate their beautiful sauna for the benefit of all this winter.

Little Box Sauna

Little Box Sauna was conceived, designed, built and deployed as an experimental Creative Placemaking project by Andrea Johnson and Molly Reichert. The sauna began its travels in February and March of 2015 in Bloomington, MN, where it created unique opportunities for visitors and employees to gather and connect at area businesses.

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Little Box Sauna is a “mobile hot spot,” a new way to gather based on the Finnish sauna tradition. Supporting social engagement, relaxation, health and fun in a custom-designed structure, Little Box Sauna redefines our relationship with winter by deepening our connection to our community when we need it most!

I met Molly while building my own sauna at The Hack Factory in south Minneapolis. She had already completed her first mobile sauna build, The TönöSauna, which I remembered enjoying a few years earlier at the Art Shanty Projects while I was working on The Dance Shanty. I’ve since shared many hours on the bench with both Molly and Andrea. Molly was the one who started ladies-only sauna night, which is consistently the most popular sauna night of the month here at The Firehouse. (She’s also the one who talked me out of naming this group Saunamongers, so we all have her to thank for that as well!).

I was thrilled when I heard that Molly and Andrea were working on another sauna project last winter. I had high hopes/expectations, based on their previous work. When I finally joined them on the bench at The Little Box last February , I was completely blown away. The sauna is a work of art that truly honors this beautiful tradition!

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I could not be more excited to be working with Andrea and Molly and local businesses to expand Little Box Sauna’s reach to Minneapolis and Saint Paul this year!

“The Little Box Sauna is a unique experience bridging community, health, and architecture. The fact that it happens on such a micro scale and is so mobile only serves to amplify its reach and influence on the urban and social fabric of the city. LBS sauna creates a spontaneous, fun, and engaging way for people to connect with each other in the public realm.”  -Peter Crandall, Urban Designer, City of Minneapolis

We will be teaming up with local businesses and events that are interested in sharing this unique tradition with their communities. We just (today!) secured our first month sponsor and will be locking down the rest of the winter schedule over the next few weeks.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a sauna experience for your community, send me an email and I’ll send you the sponsorship info: john@612saunasociety.com

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Q: Is it an actual sauna?
A: Yes! LBS has two main parts, what we call the sauna box and the entry/ changing box.

Q: What’s privacy like?
A: The changing areas are private, and there is direct interior access from the changing area into the sauna area. The sauna has two screened windows to the outside, so people inside will have privacy yet connection to their surroundings. People can take a break from the sauna inside the entry box, or step outside for some cold air and a roll in the snow!

Q: Who created Little Box Sauna?
A: Andrea Johnson and Molly Reichert.

Q: What is the purpose of the LBS?
A: LBS is to sauna with others to promote individual and community health.

Q: Is there a restroom in LBS?
A: No. Restrooms should be made available inside each host location.

Q: What is the correct pronunciation of sauna?
A: In Finland, it is pronounced sow-na. In the US, saw-na is acceptable!

Q: Is there a cold plunge?
A: No, there is no cold plunge for Little Box Sauna.

Q: What will guests be allowed to wear?
A: Guests are allowed to wear swimming suits, or other appropriate clothing. Shoes are not allowed in the sauna.

Q: Can guests roll in the snow?
A: Yes, guests are invited to roll in the snow with caution, wearing footwear, and in the areas designated by the host.

Q: Can guests go in the nude?
A: Public sauna events are co-ed, and therefore nudity is not permitted.

Q: How does the sauna run?
A: The sauna heater is run on propane, a safe, efficient and sustainable source of energy. All other elements are individually battery-powered.

Q: Where will guests change upon arrival?
A: There is a changing area inside the entry box, with privacy provided by curtains.

Q: How long does the sauna take to heat up?
A: Approximately 15-30 minutes depending on the outside temperature.

Q: Do you have to bring your own towel?
A: A limited number of towels are available; guests are welcome to bring their own.

Q: How hot does it get?
A: The maximum allowable temperature in the US is 194°F, so it will not be hotter than that!

Q: How long will guests be allowed to stay in the sauna?
A: Sauna sign-up periods last for two hours.

Q: Can you control the heat?
A: The sauna host controls the temperature.

Q: How many people can go in at once?
A: 8-10 people.

Q: How do you reserve a spot or can you just show up?
A: Guests can reserve a spot ahead of time through the host. They can also show up without a reservation, but an open sauna time cannot be guaranteed.



MR_PP_photo_gs2Molly Reichert

Molly is trained as an architect and teaches in the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. She specializes in digital design and fabrication and has worked on numerous award-winning public projects including ‘Meander’ for the Lowertown Stadium, the master plan for Frogtown Farm in St. Paul, MN, LakeForms for the Minneapolis Creative City Challenge, and TönöSauna for the Art Shanty Projects. Molly is internationally recognized in the sweat-bathing community and has presented her design work at the International Sweat Summit in San Francisco, CA. She has visited countless saunas, banyas, and public baths around the world.

AndreaJJohnsonAndrea Johnson

Andrea is a licensed architect and educator, who values fostering health and creativity through design and design practices in both urban and rural environments. Andrea grew up within a culture of sweat lodges in South Dakota, and has since immersed herself in the experiences, spaces, and languages of bathing cultures around the globe, most often finding herself in deep conversation with an old or new friend in the banya at the Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village. At the University of Minnesota, Andrea is a research fellow and lecturer, teaching in the undergraduate and graduate architecture programs, and conducting research on best practices for delivering integrated, high-performing architecture projects, the space of artist studios, architecture and maker culture, and architecture and poetry. Her current experimental “hot room” project is for her mother on Lake Koronis, MN.

11695545_10104441941385737_1696790517209116981_nJohn Pederson
I founded this group, The 612 Sauna Society, a Minneapolis-based initiative helping people “waste time with dignity” by promoting Nordic sauna culture. The project started when I built a mobile sauna and converted it into a clubhouse of sorts for people who needed to unplug and connect. Today the group has over 400 members and is leading the way in what has been dubbed “The Urban Sauna Revival” (thanks City Pages!). Before I became “Sauna Guy,” I was a community manger at CoCo Coworking and Collaborative Space and the Director of Operations at The Mighty Mo! Web Development Company. I trained as a journalist by producing programs for NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” and “To the Best of Our Knowledge” programs before moving to Indonesia to start the country’s first student-run radio station as a Fulbright Fellow in Sumatra. When I’m not sweating in the sauna, I’m creating opportunities to do so on the dance floor as an organizer for The Dance Shanty.



Molly Reichert
mollyreichert@gmail.com +1 (510) 289-6742

 Andrea Johnson
andreajj@gmail.com +1 (320) 333-8588

John Pederson
johnrpederson@gmail.com +1 (612) 850-7600


See you on the bench 612!

– JP