Colorado Business Hall of Fame Laureate Curtis Fentress
His passion for creative civic buildings benefits millions
Since its inception in 1990, the Colorado Business Hall of Fame has honored outstanding laureates who have made impactful contributions to the business community. The laureates are chosen each year from hundreds of nominations, selection committee chair John Freyer said, noting this year’s theme: “a mosaic of Colorado character and success.”
Distinguished, hard-working architect Curtis Fentress is praised by his two sons as having created an internationally known architecture firm with accomplishments that would have taken others two lifetimes. Hundreds of millions of people benefit from his passionate design of civic and business buildings that generate sizeable economic impact.
Fentress’ career in Colorado began with designing the former Amoco Tower at 1670 Broadway while he was working for a New York architecture firm. He fell for Colorado and established his own firm in Denver in 1980 that grew to design airports, museums, laboratories, hospitals, university buildings, skyscrapers and convention centers. The firm now has 150 employees across five U.S. offices as well as two international satellite locations and has designed $38 billion in architectural landmarks worldwide.
His iconic local designs grace the likes of Denver International Airport, Mile High Stadium, Colorado Judicial Center and Colorado Convention Center. Fentress said he is especially proud of the striking design for the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., and Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea.
“He has a real passion and loves to design,” said son Julian Fentress, business development director at Fentress Architects. “He truly cares about all of his employees and clients. He is a visionary and finds a way to make each project special.”
For Curtis Fentress, this drive comes from a desire to create successful public buildings that fit the place and culture. He believes “architecture is about asking the right questions, then solving those questions.”
“I’ve always been interested in designing large-scale projects because I thought they were a bigger challenge architecturally to design in a way that makes the person feel good and comfortable while being easy to navigate,” said Fentress, age 69. “It’s a big responsibility and an exciting challenge.”
The architect grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina and was encouraged by his high school art and drafting teachers to attend college and pursue architecture.