DENVER – Arch11, a Denver/Boulder-based architecture firm recently received top honors from The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Colorado at the organization’s Design & Honor Awards Gala this month. Arch11 received both the AIA Colorado Notable in the North award and a Colorado Award of Excellence for its 909 Walnut Street project – a modern, mixed-use building in Boulder’s historical downtown.
The award-winning building at 909 Walnut Street is located on one of downtown Boulder’s last remaining infill sites where the property owners envisioned an “exemplary” project that would combine their commercial objectives for a sustainable, mixed-use building with the aesthetic demands of the area’s turn-of-the-20th-century context. To maximize the desired outcome, Arch11’s Principal E.J. Meade and Project Architect Kimble Hobbs realized early in the process that to maintain the streetscape’s integrity, less would be more. Working within the City of Boulder’s Downtown Urban Design Guidelines and stringent zoning regulations, they manipulated the buildable volume to optimize square footage and provide daylight deep into the 14,475-square-foot structure.
“Arch11 is grateful to have been a part of this project and delighted to have it receive the highest honor from the awards jury” said Hobbs. “With this award, we are reminded that good buildings are rarely possible without a patient, understanding client and a team willing to put hard work into the pursuit of ideas.”
A three-story structure with two floors of offices above a ground-floor restaurant, the 909 Walnut design references the height and proportions of its masonry neighbors while establishing its own presence in Boulder’s iconic low-rise commercial cityscape. To shade the south-facing glass along the street front, Arch11 suspended a slender brise-soleil made from terracotta “baguettes” from the building’s structure. About the delicately proportioned screening device that serves to both shade the interiors and maintain the established building edge along the sidewalk, the AIA jury said that they “loved the sunshade and the way it addressed the street.”
“Windows” on the 909 Walnut building were subtracted from the continuous sun screen to provide light and views from within and to emulate the look and proportions of its downtown district masonry neighbors’ deep “punched” openings. Light scoops on the east and west sides of the building – where windows weren’t permitted – deliver additional daylight to the lobby and second- and third-floor offices. With a commitment to sustainable design throughout, the building’s energy performance was projected to be 43 percent better than a similarly sized/located baseline building.
Overall, the AIA Colorado jury praised the project as “beautiful!” and appreciated it as “sophisticated and well-accomplished inside and out.”
Arch11 has previously proven its ability to creatively repurpose buildings with contemporary design solutions that respect the past in projects such as Boulder’s 1904 Pearl Street and the Canyon Center office building. Similarly, such Arch11-designed restaurants as Oak at Fourteenthin Boulder, and Denver’s Humboldt, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Ignite! have each given new life to older structures while reflecting the authenticity of the place.