The Architects Behind Some of the Most Notable Buildings in Colorado

Local architects are recognized for both their impressive designs and their leadership

At the 2019 AIA Colorado Design & Honor Awards Celebration. Photo credit: The Unfound Door. 

Great architecture is about designing places that innovatively solve a challenge, positively impact people’s lives and creatively improve communities.

Beyond the buildings themselves, great architecture comes from having compassion for clients, leading within the profession and cultivating a culture of empathy. These qualities are what set apart Colorado’s very best architects and transform them from being great designers into AIA Colorado Honor Award recipients.

“The 2019 AIA Colorado Honor Award recipients are leaders who are committed to giving back to the profession and Colorado at-large,” says Zachary Taylor, AIA and the 2019 AIA Colorado president.

On Sept. 13 at the 2019 AIA Colorado Design & Honor Awards Celebration, the local architecture community recognized the top achievements, projects and members of the profession. Three Honor Awards were given to the top architects/firm of the year.

Young Architect of the Year: Kevin Nguyen

Kevin Nguyen, AIA opened the firm Regular Architecture in 2015 at the age of 31. His firm is focused on the core principle that design can simultaneously meet clients’ needs, enrich the environment and improve peoples’ lives.

Nguyen’s work has ranged from sustainable and affordable housing to commercial retail. More recently, his work has focused on custom restaurants and hospitality, including some of Denver’s top new restaurants like Hop Alley, The Wolf’s Tailor, Beckon | Call and more.

“Kevin’s designs are crisp and thoughtful,” says Scott Lindenau, FAIA and the 2019 honor awards head juror. “His architecture is keenly focused on the people who will occupy the buildings, and he’s helping to create a uniquely-Colorado design aesthetic.”

Additionally, Nguyen co-founded Immersion Workshop, a local nonprofit that provides design professionals and students the opportunity to participate in traveling master-classes to develop their skills and learn the importance of integrating architecture into its unique surrounding. He also mentors high school students who are interested in architecture and volunteers with Food for Thought Denver.

“It is such a great honor to be receiving Young Architect of the Year. Growing my small firm and working with incredible people has afforded me an opportunity to do what I love, and receiving this recognition affirms for me that I’m headed in the right direction,” Nguyen says. “I look forward to using this incredible opportunity to continue to help our next generation grow and improve people’s lives.” 

Young Firm of the Year: open studio | architecture

open studio | architecture (OSA) was formed in 2011 by Blake Mourer, AIA and Brad VanArsdale, AIA to forge a new approach to both design and the business of architecture. Some of their most notable projects include the Residences at Fillmore Plaza, high-end rental units in Cherry Creek North; Galvanize 1.0 and 2.0; and New Belgium Brewing – Liquid Center Addition

Perhaps even more notable than their designs is the way OSA operates. The firm does not track time in billable hours. Instead, the firm calculates project fees according to scope, schedule and budget. They believe this allows employees to focus on being architects and designers; truly collaborating to solve problems rather than deliberating over where hours are spent.

In addition to offering comprehensive benefits, OSA boasts a relaxed culture that includes being dog friendly, happy hours, ski trips, holiday parties, annual staff gift exchange, bake-offs and birthday celebrations. Plus, the OSA office features an exterior patio with a fire pit and beer on tap.

“open studio | architecture’s mission, beautiful office, diverse team and unique business model create a culture that’s unmatched. In fact, the firm’s name perfectly encompasses what they’re all about,” Lindenau says.

OSA also invests in the profession and the community through scholarships, mentoring, supporting continuing education and licensure for architects and encouraging community service on local boards and commissions.

“This award recognizes our unique business approach and we are grateful to AIA Colorado and our peers for the honor. Looking forward, we insist on constant reflection and remaining relevant in our creative community,” Mourer says.

Architect of the Year: William Moon, AIA​

Since joining Tryba Architects in 1990, William (Bill) Moon has been a leader of the firm, overseeing business development, project management, staffing and operations.

During his tenure, Moon has created inspiring and enduring places that have transformed communities across Colorado — from leading the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of Denver’s Union Station, to spearheading the new addition and renovation of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, to overseeing the design of award-winning corporate campuses for some of the largest energy and technology companies in the world.

“Bill embodies the fact that good architecture is about more than simply designing. He works behind the scenes and believes strongly in collaborating with and mentoring his team,” Lindenau says.

For his work, Moon has received a multitude of honors, including Denver Business Journals’ 40 Under 40, several AIA Colorado Design Excellence Awards and this year was named one of the 100 Top Commercial Real Estate Industry Influencers in the U.S.

Moon aims to enhance the quality of life for Coloradans both through his designs and his community service. He serves on the City of Denver’s Technical Advisory Board and the Cherry Creek North Design Advisory Committee.

“I am humbled and honored, and I have this great community to thank for where I am in my career today,” Moon says. “As architects we spend an untold amount of time on the design of great structures, detailing every square inch. But while our buildings help define the urban fabric, we can and should play a more meaningful role in creating better spaces within the public realm and in becoming more involved with the communities in which we practice.”

Each of the AIA Colorado 2019 Honor Award Recipients has created innovative and inviting buildings which define the state’s design aesthetic. But more importantly, each of the recipients recognizes that they have the power to positively transform Colorado communities and impact the way residents live every day — and they use their unique skills to do just that.

(This sponsored content was provided by AIA Colorado.)

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