Photo courtesy of Rodwin Architecture and Skycastle Construction

Meet the Architects

In Living by Sarah KutaLeave a Comment

Look around you. Take note of the homes, buildings and properties that dot the streets of Boulder. One thing they all have in common? Stunning architecture.

The city is on the cutting-edge of architecture and design, especially when it comes to sustainable, eco-friendly practices. We sat down with a few of Boulder County’s top architects to learn more about this important profession and what inspires their work each and every day.

Jennifer Lombard

bldg.collective

2872 Bluff St., Boulder

Why did you pursue a career in architecture and interior design?

I’ve always loved design and creating spaces — I actually went into interior design first, thinking I didn’t have the math chops to be an architect. In the course of working as an interior designer for an architecture firm, I realized that a) there wasn’t that much complex math involved and b) I wanted to do both design and architecture, so I went back to school and got a master’s of architecture. My boss and mentor at my first firm (who was an architect and a licensed designer) is actually who talked me into it and told me I could do it.

How do you describe your style and vibe?

Contemporary yet timeless — pretty, comfortable and warm. I love to mix different time periods and styles so that the result feels curated and collected, rather than like it was all purchased at once. Nothing too fussy or precious — spaces are meant to be used!

What architectural/interior design trends are you seeing a lot of right now?

On the architectural side, we’re seeing a lot of people asking for more dedicated home office spaces or more separation in their living spaces — with everyone at home all the time this year, there’s a definite push for more discrete spaces rather than full open concept plans.

On the interiors front, richer colors and jewel tones are one trend I’m loving — we’re also using a lot of handmade materials right now. Things with a tactile quality and variation to the finish, that feel more warm and crafted and less machine-precise.

What inspires your work?

My clients! The best design is personal and tailored to the inhabitants. Getting to know clients and their aesthetics is a huge source of design inspiration. I’m also constantly perusing a variety of design websites and blogs.

What do you wish more people knew or understood about your industry?

That designers do way more than pick pillows and paint colors! Joking aside, the value in hiring an architect or designer. It’s an investment, but having an expert to guide the process will almost always save you so much time and money. We help manage the thousands of decisions that come with a project, and can look holistically at the choices being made so that you end up with a gorgeous and functional final product.

What are the benefits/powers of architecture and design?

I love that we get to shape the spaces people use every day. The spaces we live and work in have so much impact on our well being, focus, sense of comfort . . . design is a huge part of everyday life that most people take for granted and I feel honored to be a part of it.

Scott Rodwin

Rodwin Architecture

1245 Pearl St. Suite 202., Boulder

Why did you pursue a career in architecture?  

I always loved art and physics. Architecture is the intersection of those two.

How do you describe your architectural style and vibe?  

We are known for a warm Colorado modern style, but we work in every style. The style of each project primarily expresses the clients’ personality and taste, rather than ours. Our firm’s focus is on providing extraordinary customer service, cutting-edge sustainable design and an integrated design/build delivery model.

What architectural trends are you seeing a lot of right now?  

Boulder’s architecture is becoming more luxurious, modern and sophisticated. And we are constantly pushing the boundaries of sustainability (including net-zero energy and LEED platinum certification).

What inspires your work?  

One of our clients summed it up best yesterday when he said to me, “I am so grateful to be living in this house during COVID.” We aspire to create homes that enhance the quality of life of our clients. Our designs are informed by the pragmatic (budget, energy-efficiency, function and flow) and the sublime (how it relates to the site, the views, the light and the social patterns of how our clients inhabit the home) and we seek the optimal balance of those two influences.

What do you wish more people knew or understood about your industry?  

Like medicine, creating a custom home is an organic exploration. No two are ever the same and no outcome is guaranteed. This is art, not manufacturing.

What are the benefits/powers of architecture?  

As Winston Churchill famously said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Most people contort their lives around the home that they have. But it is possible to craft a home that supports and enhances the life you aspire to live. That’s what we strive to create for each of our clients every day.

Elizabeth Smith

Fänas Architecture

2930 Broadway, Suite 106, Boulder

Why did you pursue a career in architecture?  

Simply put, I just couldn’t stay away. My roommate in college was in the design school and I found myself doing her homework every night because it was such fun!

How do you describe your architectural style and vibe?

My architectural style and vibe is a direct reflection of each individual client. I don’t strive to design my dream house for anyone. The goal is to design the perfect home for each client and I thoroughly enjoy all styles: contemporary, Tuscan, mountain modern, traditional, craftsman, mid-century modern

What architectural trends are you seeing a lot of right now?

There is still a steady stream of clients looking for a contemporary home, but we are also seeing a small shift towards craftsman as well.

What inspires your work?

Seeing amazing design materials used in unexpected ways, innovative spaces and the potential for truly transforming a building into a place people are drawn to. Also, it goes without saying, the clients I work with.

What do you wish more people knew or understood about your industry?

Design is the driving force behind every project, but there is so much more that goes into every project. Working with local jurisdictions, consultants, contractors and vendors, managing expectations related to schedule and helping clients stay focused on design decisions are just a few.

What are the benefits/powers of architecture?

Architecture creates and defines environments. The opportunities are endless and the potential to influence so many people is undeniable.

Dale Smith

Fänas Architecture

2930 Broadway, Suite 106, Boulder

Why did you pursue a career in architecture?  

I always had a strong art background throughout my public school years, but realized there were too many starving artists in the world (who were much better than me). I discovered architecture (a tangible art) a couple of years after high school, and have enjoyed it ever since.

How do you describe your architectural style and vibe?

I don’t have a style per se. I love the diversity. With study and research, we can recreate any genre, and by applying our sense of “appropriateness,” make it ours.

What architectural trends are you seeing a lot of right now?

It has been so great to see a turn towards the new modern and contemporary work being done, especially in the Boulder area. Elizabeth & I spent the 1990s in Vail, doing a lot of the Colorado craftsman style, which is a great mountain look, but it’s wonderful to look behind other doors.

What inspires your work?

Everything. And clients who allow you to do what they hired you to do.

What do you wish more people knew or understood about your industry?

A couple of things. That not only are we designers, but also project managers, from top to bottom of each project. And that it’s not all science (the objective), that much of it is art (the subjective). It should be fun, romantic.

What are the benefits/powers of architecture?

When well designed, spaces accomplish what they were intended for. Regardless of what you’re doing in there, it’s a joy.

Lauren Folkerts

HMH Architecture and Interiors

1701 15th Street, Suite B, Boulder

Why did you pursue a career in architecture?  

I grew up outside of Seattle where the weather is dreary, but the lush landscapes are always beautiful. Early on, I realized the power that buildings have not only to provide shelter, but to uplift us. While the potential is always there, many buildings miss the mark. The challenge of making buildings that are comforting, not confining, that inspires curiosity, that foster connection, and are not only good for us, but good for our world, drew me to becoming an architect.

How do you describe your architectural style and vibe?  

I personally love regional modernism. Natural local materials and vernacular styles combined with modern features and detailing have always resonated strongly with me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every project. In practice, our team works together with our clients, drawing inspiration from the site, the surroundings and the unique demands of the project to create something timeless regardless of style.

What architectural trends are you seeing a lot of right now?

You can’t get away from modern right now. Even more traditional houses are getting edgier modern touches. But what I’m excited about are curves. I’ve been seeing arched doorways, curved sofas and circular windows bringing some sensuality back to architecture. I’m excited for this, coupled with really tactile interiors, to bring some fun to 2021.

What inspires your work?

My inspiration always starts with the place, the people and the goal. Why here? Why now? What opportunities and challenges do the overlapping circumstances create? In Boulder, we are lucky to live in such a beautiful place — I find even the most basic things like the color of the dirt and the quality of afternoon light awe-inspiring. Trying to make a building as beautiful as the nature that surrounds us is a challenge I may never fully achieve, but enjoy striving toward.

What do you wish more people knew or understood about your industry?  

A great building is not a collection of Instagrammable moments, and it’s not a product you can pick off the shelf. A great building requires a talented team of people to take advantage of the specific opportunities and challenges unique to that exact project. I think HGTV and Pinterest are pushing architecture more and more into the realm of instant gratification and, to get there, people are sacrificing quality, sustainability and good design. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be an Instagrammable moment in your building, but a great building should do so much more than that.

What are the benefits/powers of architecture?

Buildings influence every aspect of our lives, from the quality of the air we breathe to our mood, our productivity and the habitability of the planet. Fortunately, there don’t have to be trade-offs. As our industry gets better and better at creating healthy and sustainable buildings, we find more and more overlap. Turns out, doing the right thing is usually better for us, the world and the bottom line. Like all great challenges, there are no simple, perfect solutions, but there is unlimited opportunity to do better.

Nathan Kipnis

Firm: Kipnis Architecture + Planning

1200 Pearl Street, Boulder

Why did you pursue a career in architecture?

I was lucky enough to grow up on the North Shore of Chicago near some spectacular homes designed by some amazing architects including Frank Lloyd Wright. My parents often drove to Chicago and, along the way, I’d be glued to the window, taking in these magnificent houses.  Later, even though I was still quite young, the 1973 oil embargo crisis opened my eyes to our reliance on oil, and I thought that I wanted to somehow, someday, do something to change that. In 1981, while attending the University of Colorado Boulder, I actually designed my first solar home. Things have really come full circle since my interest in architecture was first piqued in childhood — I recently came off a role as the national co-chair of the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment. It is immensely gratifying to see the impact of that committee’s work on how architects around the country are transforming their practice and working toward designing carbon-neutral buildings.

How do you describe your architectural style and vibe?

Our general vibe is really clean design that is a direct response to the site’s context, the client’s wishes and the local climate. We don’t ever design two homes exactly the same — we believe in personalizing each and every design.

Our firm’s overall philosophy can be summed up as high design/low carbon — to design beautiful architectural buildings and spaces that have a positive impact on society and the planet.

What architectural trends are you seeing a lot of right now?

It’s fascinating and heartening to see that the concepts of low-carbon design that we espoused decades ago are being implemented across so many projects now. In addition to building for sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change, this past year has also brought healthy home features to the forefront. I believe that going forward, the combination of sustainability, resilience and health/wellness will be essential priorities for residential and commercial clients.

Over time, the emphasis for our firm’s work has evolved from being directed toward high-performance, energy-efficient projects to include the larger picture of sustainability. Understanding the built environment’s impacts on climate change, incorporating resilient design measures and providing wellness solutions have all been on the firm’s dynamic range of design measures. I’ve also been focused lately on including the impact of embodied carbon on our project’s material selections.

What inspires your work?

The state of the planet drives me every day. We are in a critical time — with the earth’s climate being attacked relentlessly. There is a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. While it’s easy to focus negatively on the task at hand, I try to think positively about the solutions that are available. Every day, it’s clearer to see what needs to be done for a more sustainable and resilient future.

What do you wish more people knew or understood about your industry?

The solutions to these various issues need to be thought of as a positive instead of a negative. The homes we design represent the physical expression that a home can have a positive contribution to the larger environment and still be beautiful, fun and functional. It’s not a sacrifice to create and live in a home designed with these principles in mind.

What are the benefits/powers of architecture?

Architects have the ability to design buildings that have a neutral or even a positive impact on the environment, both in terms of the materials used and energy required. Architecture designed with that in mind can create great spaces that are uplifting in a mental, physical and spiritual way.

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