Accessibility and well-being: Are multimodal travelers more satisfied with their lives?

Date: 12/31/16 - 5/1/17
Principal Researchers: Jeremy Nemeth and Carrie Makarewicz Student Researcher:Former MURP students Roxanne Borzo Bertrand and Cayla Cothron; former GES student Isaac Rivera.

In this study, we asked how the ability to use multiple transportation options affects one's subjective wellbeing (SWB), including aspects such as physical health, financial security, standard of living, and personal relationships. We draw on 232 surveys from a diverse set of residents in the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area and find that having more transportation choices can improve standard of living for low- and middle-income residents. These multimodal middle-income residents are also more satisfied with their health and what they are achieving in life. Vehicle owners report higher levels of satisfaction with their standard of living, health, and achievements, compared to non-owners, unless auto is their only travel mode. Only low-income respondents had significant differences in standard of living by where they lived, with greatest satisfaction in the urban core. These results confirm the relationship between public transit and SWB, and contribute to our understanding of how the concept of motility (social and spatial mobility) shapes one's quality of life. The findings have implications for investments in transportation modes across neighborhood types and populations, so that people have a range of travel options to meet their needs and increase their satisfaction with their goals through improved daily travel. A clearer understanding of these associations can inform investments in multimodal infrastructure.

More Information: Read an article about the project

Designing for difference: Planning for immigrant integration

Date: 11/2/18
Principal Researchers: Jeremy Nemeth and Edelina Burciaga (Sociology) Others Involved: Carrie Makarewicz (URP) Student Researcher:Peter Burke, Reilly Rosbotham, Jose Parra, Shannon Terrell, Iza Petrykowska, Mais Alnima, Steph Leonard, Quin Joel

For many years, planners and sociologists have sought to determine what shapes immigrant integration, or the dynamic, two-way process in which newcomers and the receiving society work and adapt together. “Context of reception,” or the combination of opportunities and challenges that shape acceptance into a host society, profoundly shapes immigrant integration. Glaringly absent from studies on context of reception, however, is a focus on whether and how the design of the built environment might affect immigrant inclusion and exclusion. In this project, we ask how the spatial qualities of communities can create positive contexts of reception for recent immigrants. Eight undergraduate and graduate students from the geography, public health, sociology, and urban and regional planning programs will conduct 300-400 surveys of first-generation immigrants in a number of neighborhoods across the Denver metro area. This collaborative project makes several contributions to research on these subjects: a) it introduces a key spatial-analytical construct for immigration scholars in urban planning and sociology, b) it recognizes the important role that professional planners and designers can play in building more inclusive and integrative spaces for immigrant populations, c) it helps nonprofits, policymakers, and other state actors advocate for better urban design and built environment improvements in existing and potential arrival neighborhoods, and d) it benefits immigrants by foregrounding the notion that “place matters” for immigrant integration.


Raine House 2012

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah: Cindy Bithnell Hiroko Ogiso Cortland Wilson Atsushi Yamamoto Student Researcher:University of Colorado Students: Lindsay Moore Halle Hagenau Matt Brown Tor Jorfald Elise Mascitelli Laura Mears Maggie Hattman Megan Brankamp Sarah Boman Sara Zezulka Kimberlee Derhammer Brian Majerus Lauren Watkins Laurie Hollm Lauren Peterson Treonna Villasenor Craig Cherry Jason Astorino MC Burns Southern Utah University Students: Chris Hoffman Mark Trevor Faculty Advisor: University of Colorado Faculty:
Rick Sommerfeld

Southern Utah University Faculty:
John Murray

in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah

The Raine House was constructed for Lorraine “Raine” Toney, a Navajo and single mother of five children.

Lorraine had to travel an hour to get to work, a tough drive through the desert.   Her children lived so far from school that they were forced to board on the campus.  The boarding house situation has classically torn apart families on the reservation and this was Lorraine’s worst fear.  She needed a place to live, closer to work, closer to school, a place to raise her children. When the students asked what she wanted from the project she said only two words, a home.

The home is constructed primarily of thermally broken slow pour concrete. This concrete along with the concrete slab helps collect the sun’s rays and maintain a year round internal temperature between 62-82 degrees Fahrenheit (17-27 degrees Celsius). Interior sliding panels cover the glass curtain wall in the evening, providing an additional R-12 insulation. During the day they nest along the walls in the living room.


Colorado Outward Bound School Year-Round Micro Cabins 2016

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: Structural Engineer: Andy Paddock Student Researcher:Joshua Allen Andrew Baur Devyn Bernal Michael Black Leigh Bryant Craig Dunn Amanda Gonzales Anna Griffith Jeffrey Heger Jim Hillard Kyle Hoehnen Andrea Kelchlin Jesse Ledin Amie McDermott Tanner Morrow Nina Najmabadi Kyle Plantico Christopher Powell Genevieve Rogers Mike Schauble Andrew Schrag Diana Souders Henry Spiegel Samantha Strang Catrina Weissbeck Tyler Whaley Brittany Wheeler Ryan Wresch Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld
Will Koning
JD Signom

In 2016 the Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS), a not-for-profit organization focusing on outdoor education, continued its partnership with University of Colorado Denver’s ColoradoBuildingWorkshop. This second group of 28 students designed and built seven insulated cabins for year-round use. The cabins were intertwined within the same village housing boundaries as the 14 seasonal cabins constructed in 2015; deep within a lodgepole pine forest, 10,000 feet above sea level, and accessible only by a narrow dirt road.

Students were required to conduct a critical architectural inquiry into materiality, structure, light, context, environment, and program to create innovative solutions to prefabricated, accelerated-build, micro housing. Each 200 square foot cabin was required to house one or two residences and be powered by a single electrical circuit. The circuit provides lighting, heating and a series of receptacles with the capacity to charge technology and small appliances (mini refrigerators, teakettles, coffee pots, etc). A central staff lodge is accessible to the residences for bathing, cooking, and laundry.

With an average annual temperature of 35o Fahrenheit the seven all-season structures were required to meet the standards of the International Energy Conservation Code climate zone 7&8 (the coldest zone in the United States). Inspired by quinzees, a snow shelter made from a hollowed out pile of snow, the students adapted the logic of “snow insulation” for their structures. The cabins employ structurally insulated panels (SIPs) for the walls and flat roofs. The roofs are designed to hold the snow in the winter, providing an additional R-20 to R-30 of insulation depending on the depth of the snow. A single electrical circuit powers each structure. This is accomplished by the small cabin footprints, LED lighting, and the super insulation of the SIPs combined with the snow’s natural insulation. This efficiency reflects the school’s commitment to the environment.

The orientation and articulation of each of the seven cabins react individually to the immediate site conditions present in the landscape. No two cabins are alike. Hot rolled steel cladding provides a low maintenance rain screen for the structure. The cladding and the vertical columns of the moment frame below blend with the pine forest, minimizing the visual impact. Cedar clad front and back porches are carved from the main mass to create entry and private outdoor spaces for the more introverted, permanent COBS staff. The cabin interiors are skinned in birch plywood bringing warmth to the structure and a connection with the trees surrounding the site.

2016 American Architecture Prize, Student Architecture
2016 American Architecture Prize, Gold-Small Architecture
2016 American Architecture Prize, Silver-Social Housing
2016 Residential Architect Design Awards (RADA)
2016 WAN Metal in Architecture Awards, Shortlisted


Colorado Outward Bound School Micro Cabins 2015

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: Structural Engineer: Andy Paddock Student Researcher:Derek Ackley Sidney Aulds Brent Beicker Matthew Breen Andrew Brown John Giddens Brandon Gossard Aaron Gray Dane Hardy Chad Holmes Casandra Huff Mark Hurni Timo Jyrinki Rachel Koleski Kate Lucas Nathan Moore Matt Ollmann Aleka Pappas Holly Paris Nathan Pepper Kit Piane Ken Roberts Louisa Sanford Joe Stainbrook Brandon Sweeney Phil Stuen Amanda Tharp Elliott Watenpaugh Becca Barenblat Jeff D’Addario Sam Palmer-Dwore Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld
Scott Lawrence
JD Signom
Jordan Vaughn

Located on a steep hillside in a lodgepole pine forest, these cabins were designed as micro dormitories for the Colorado Outward Bound School. The cabins sit lightly on the landscape, directing views from private spaces towards trees, rock outcroppings and distant mountain views of the Mosquito Range. More public “community” views are directed into social spaces that develop from the organization of the cabins in relationship to one another. These community spaces are made up of front porches and the negative spaces between cabins.

To satisfy clients’ lodging and storage requirements, and to facilitate completion in three weeks of on-site construction, the cabins were conceived as two separate elements, a “box” and a “frame”. The “frame” acts as a storage device for the educators’ large gear (bikes, skis, kayaks, etc.) while simultaneously housing the cabin “box” and covered porches. The prefabricated cabin “box” rests in the frame under the protection of a “snow roof” designed to keep the winter snow load off the waterproofed roof below. Hot rolled steel provides a low maintenance rain screen for the box.  This steel cladding and the vertical columns blend with the lodgepole forest minimizing the visual impact of the cabins. Structural taped glazing on the windows eliminates mullions and connects the occupants directly with natural views.

The interior of the cabin is skinned in CNC’d birch plywood bringing warmth to the interior and evoking a connection with the trees surrounding the site. The plywood is specifically milled to accommodate desks, beds and storage for each user. The walls and CNC’d plywood were prefabricated in Denver, flat packed onto trucks and shipped to Leadville to shorten the on-site construction timeline.

2015 American Institute of Architects Colorado Honor Award
2015 American Institute of Architects Colorado Citation Award
2015-2016 ACSA Design-Build Award
2016 Architizer A+ Award Residential: Private House XS


ROMO Backcountry Privies 2018

Date: 1/31/19
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Others Involved: CU Denver Staff: Katherine Hartung Collaborators: Justin Morse DenCol NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) Student Researcher:Collin Bailey Riley Barber Taylor Carlisle David Cincotta Robby Cuthbert Marc Daubert Brian Duncan Kate Farrington Leah Fett Austin Gohl Brittany Goldsmith Leah Gordon Greg Hise Cate Humby Grant Johnson Ben Ludeman Morgan Marzo Selena Obelinas Jillian Pate Matt Rivera Gloren Roper Aleksi Vuola David Wallmueller Intan Yokelson Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld
William Koning
Andy Paddock, PE

Long’s Peak, the tallest and most iconic mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, has become one of the most frequented 14ers in the State of Colorado. To deal with human waste on the trail, the National Park Service (NPS) installed their first backcountry toilets in 1983. Since their installation 35 years ago the technology has deteriorated in the harsh climate to the point that waste is now required to be removed by shovel full, placed into five-gallon buckets, and carried down the mountain using llamas.

Determined to find a better privy design, and a more humane solution of collecting waste, NPS collaborated with ColoradoBuildingWorkshop to re-design and constructed new backcountry privies. The new Long’s Peak Privies explore lightweight prefabricated construction and emerging methods of waste collection to minimize the human footprint in Colorado’s backcountry. The final design solution is a series of prefabricated structural gabion walls. Within the gabions, a series of thin steel plate moment frames triangulate the lateral loads within the structure while stones, collected on-site, are used as ballast. This innovative construction assembly allows for rapid on-site construction (the project was erected in eight days) and an architecture that disappears into the surrounding landscape.

2019 ACSA Design Build Award Winner


Redsand Cabins – Sunrise & Sunset 2014

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah: Jose Galarza Director, DesignBuildBLUFF Hiroko Yamamoto, Associate Instructor Atsushi Yamamoto, Associate Instructor Structural Engineer: Andy Paddock, PE Student Researcher:Becca Barenblat Lauren Cooper Cam Tu Dang Linh Dam Seth Donnell Arron Elmore Pipsa Happo Matt Krick Johnny Mathews Dan Mitchell Kathryn Mullinax Ryan Nickolas Zane Levin Sam Palmer Roshan Jason Patel Robin Scher Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld

in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah

The Mexican Water Chapter of the Navajo Nation partnered with the University of Colorado Denver and the Design Build BLUFF program to design and build two rentable cabins to bolster the local tourism industry. Influenced by the landscape and distant views of the Blue Mountains and Monument Valley, the programmatic design and materiality led to the development of two “sibling” cubes. One rests on the landscape while the other emerges from it. Each cabin establishes its own identity while simultaneously evoking the same language together.

The orientations of the Sunrise and Sunset Cabins were influenced by the Navajo tradition of eastern entry. While entering the Sunset Cabin requires a journey through the patio first, the journey of the Sunrise Cabin is through the building and out toward the cantilevered patio. Both patios, located on the northern side of the cabins, provide shade in the summer and are clad in reclaimed barn wood. In order to diversify the sleeping arrangement possibilities between the two 300 square foot spaces, the Sunrise Cabin includes a two-person sunken bed platform and the Sunset Cabin, with a bed, loft, and futon, can sleep up to six visitors.

Beauty and craft can be seen in the treatment of interior and exterior finishes. Concrete floors, sinks, and counters contrast the reclaimed barn wood on the interior walls and bedrooms while the weathered steel exterior resembles the red sand of the landscape. Apertures in both cabins frame views of the surrounding natural environment: the sand, mountains, and sky. Additionally, the carefully placed windows, skylight, and electrical lighting fill the spaces with soft light to emphasize materiality.

Redsand Cabins win the 2015 AIA Colorado YAAG Built Project of the Year


Hozho House

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah: Jose Galarza, Director Atsushi Yamamoto, Assoc. Instructor Hiroko Yamamoto, Assoc. Instructor Structural Engineer: Andy Paddock Student Researcher:Shawn Adams Erica Alfaro Patrick Beseda Gregory Behlen Anastasia Chmel Megan Garrett Lacy Graham Patricia Gut Amy Keil Anna Huey Catalina Pedraza Henry Rahn Foster Ramsey Scott Rank Joe Stevenson Dana Trill Iassen Vladimirov Megan Voiles Ronald Willison Kristin Zuro Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld

in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah

The clients, a soft-spoken Navajo couple, requested a home that would allow for family gatherings while simultaneously providing a private place of retreat. They had an intimate understanding of their environment and had already constructed a small shade structure on the property for family gatherings. Students from the University of Colorado Denver worked in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah to design and built a modest 800 square foot home.

Constructed for $25,000 this single pitched cedar clad house is stitched into the landscape with a cedar and recycled aluminum rain screen designed to layer shadows and transparency. The aluminum sheathing wraps the building, folding out from the facade and intersecting the cedar screen to create apertures that protect the glazing, and the main entry, from direct southern sun. The cedar, held off of the facade, provides a depth that creates a subtle dynamism of light and shadow. The vertical screen is spaced to reduce direct heat gain of the façade helping to keep the home cool in the summer. The walls and roof are constructed with structural insulated panels that exceeding traditional insulation standards.

Two private volumes (the bedroom and bathroom) clad in cedar, define the interior of the home. Doors have been integrated into the cladding to conceal their location further emphasizing privacy. At the end of the hallway a nook desk is built into the wall. A continuation of the cedar volume, the extrusion provides a work surface while shading the window from the summer sun. The depth captures the southern view back to the original shade structure, one of the main inspirations for the design.

The more public area of the home has an open floor plan that transitions out to the patio. The patio is enclosed by the cedar rain screen on the east and west but opens north to a view of the Blue Mountains. The rain screen offers protection from the sun and wind while providing filtered light and animated shadows.


Nakai Residence

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah: Hank Louis Andrew Foster Craig Harren Structural Engineer: Christopher O’Hara Principal Studio NYL Structural Engineers Student Researcher:James Anderson David Hevesi Zia Hooker Courtney Hughes Cameron Minor Milen Milev Michelle Pollock Josh Young Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld

in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah

The Nakai residence was constructed for Lorraine Nakai, a Navajo, academic and avid collector.

In the middle of the desert with three existing structures on site the team sited the building to create an outdoor communal courtyard. The home opens to the south to accept the cool breezes in the summer, while the building shields the courtyard from the cold western winds in the winter. In response to the geomorphology of the site, the roof gestures up to the tree on the northeast and the nearby hill to the southwest. The building is clad in recycled spandrel glass. The glass reflects the landscape and nearby historic homes.

A 50-foot long bookcase on the interior of the home showcases the client’s collection of books, acts as the kitchen and sleeping nook while creating a threshold for private spaces behind it. The bookcase terminates at the window seat at the north end of the building. This reading nook is cantilevered under the lone tree on the site. The public zone of the floor plan is a large 11’ wide x 50’ long space beside the bookcase. The fireplace, an integral part of the Navajo culture, is the singular element in this space simply dividing the living room, dining room and kitchen from the art studio and bedroom.


Lamar Urban Farming Classroom

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: Structural Engineer: Andy Paddock Student Researcher:Shawn Adams Brandon Bain Kristin Bevis Mike Blea Joe Coleman Amr Fayez John Gibbons James Hart Jeremy Jones Amy Keil Maeve Kinsey DJ Kornmeyer Breton Lujan Kendra Matrician Paul Mitchell Jack Tipton Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld
Craig Cherry

Lamar Station Crossing is a new development by Metro West Housing Solutions, the housing authority of Lakewood, CO. The PUD is adjacent to one of the newest Lightrail lines in Colorado, the W line to Golden. The housing authority approached Colorado Building Workshop about designing a classroom to educate the residents about urban farming. The site is located in the panhandle of the property along the Lakewood Gulch. Given the up-and-coming characteristics of the neighborhood visibility into the classroom and vandalism were concerns. The solution was a steel bar grate structure that provided “dynamic” transparency. The orientation of the classroom allows for views into the space by staff sitting in their office while simultaneously allowing privacy for those learning in the classroom. When approaching the classroom on the path the structure continually gets more opaque due to the orientation of the vertical louvers. The bar grate skins carry the majority of the building load all but eliminating the need for columns and vertical web members. Once inside, the classroom subtly divides itself into three spaces. A large steel gutter that terminates in a wash station and planter marks the entry. A mobile table, and skylight, defines the classroom space directly east of entry, while the stage west of the entry opens to the future raised beds and amphitheater seating.

2017 AISC IDEAS2 Merit Award
Recipient of the 2015-2016 ACSA Design-Build Award


Next Stage Collaborative 2016

Date: 11/30/16
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Others Involved: Structural Engineer: Andy Paddock Graduate Teaching Assistant: Samantha Strang Student Researcher:Joel Brown Sofia Bruni Adam Buehler Josh Chandler Robert “Taylor” Chesnovar Marika Davis Natacha Denis Meghan Duarte-Silva Barry Carl Faler Eileen Gahihausen Sasha Godinez Kelsey Grundman Kurt Hartmann Ryan Helle Ryan Johnson Danielle Jones Benyamin Khezri Allisa Lacey Alex LaVoy Alexander Martin Joseph McKinney Joel Miller Olivia Mott Mason O’Farrell Christopher Powell Brandon Smith Rebekka Thy Hunter Wells Lidia West Kelsey Wotila Liezl van Wyk Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld
Will Koning

Next Stage Collaborative was designed and renovated by the students and faculty of ColoradoBuildingWorkshop. In collaboration with Denver Arts and Venues, this space further supports their mission to enhance Denver’s quality of life through premier public venues, artworks, and entertainment by becoming a platform to showcase student work—something rarely seen by the public.

To best utilize the facility, students created a clean, versatile exhibition space that accommodates two different programmatic zones: the first, an entry space where guests are greeted by information about the current exhibition, and the second, the exhibition space itself. The two zones have been articulated through subtle gestures in ceiling height variation and lighting strategies.


Skow Residence

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah: Hank Louis Andrew Foster Craig Harren Structural Engineer: Christopher O’Hara Principal Studio NYL Structural Engineers Student Researcher:Ellen Adams Brett Blackmon Lura Blumfield Jay Burkhalter Glen Camuso Jacob Ebling William Koning William Murray Rebecca Sockwell JD Signom Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld 

in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah

Having received a typical Navajo “home build kit”, the clients, Harold and Helena Skow, had already completed a CMU foundation to accept a traditional rectangular gable-trussed home. Unable to complete the building the Skows turned to students from CU Denver and DesignBuidlBLUFF. The students decided to utilize the existing foundation and virtually all of the build kit materials stock piled on site in their design. While walking the site with the clients on their first visit some students took note that Harold wore a large brimmed hat which shielded the harsh sun from his face and neck. When asked about the protective garment Harold commented that everyone should have a sombrero in the desert. Inspired by his comment and resisting the idea of a traditional gable roof house, the team chose to turn the trusses upside down and create a sombrero for the Skows’ home.

Programmatically, the 800 sf, 2-bedroom home is separated into two volumes. The private volume, containing the bedrooms, is wrapped in highly insulative straw bale construction and is located to the north, providing a sense of comfort surrounded by natural earthen plaster and security from the desert elements. The public volume containing the living room and kitchen/dining room opens up to the southwest, providing spectacular views and a connection to the landscape while allowing direct solar gain, in the winter, through two walls of orientation-specific solar glazing. A large deck wraps the western and southern sides of the home and brings the ‘livable’ space outdoors for much of the year, while an eastern entry porch provides shaded outdoor space to gather during summer afternoon hours.

Skow Residence receives a Special Mention in the Architizer A+ Awards, Typology Categories Residential: Private House (XS <1000 sq ft)


WEEP [Waterton Environmental Pavillion] | 2012

Date: 4/20/19
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Others Involved: Structural Engineer: Julian Lineham, PE, SECB, MICE, CEng Lee Maggert Principal Studio NYL StructuralEngineers Civil Engineer: Chris S. Strawn Jansen Strawn Consulting Engineers, INC Geotechnical Engineer: Scott Myers, PE TerraCon Excavation: Josh Hawkins Zach Hawkins Concrete: David Neighbour Metro Mix, LLC.Roof framing: Tim DeVos Cemco DenverSteel Fabrication Greg and BJ Titchenal Coalesce Design and Fabrication Roofing: Jamie Fredericks Fowler and PethConcrete Finishing Pat Thomas Toma ConstructionLandscape Supply Alameda Wholesale Student Researcher:Caitlin Blythe Nicole Bruechner Michael Bucher Nicole Davis Carrie Hadley Katherine Hawkins Christopher Johnston Robert Kiester Will Koning Milen Milev Rachel Mott Will Murray Gerald Reynolds JD Signom Astrid Vander Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld

The pavilion, located in Waterton Canyon, serves as an outdoor classroom for environmental groups involved in Bird Banding, Pond Ecology and Wildlife Habitat.

The structure is a pragmatic response to the various constraints of the site. The tilted columns were conceived to triangulate the lateral loads associated with a structure that, by floodplain regulations, were not allowed to have walls. Off the backside of the structure a small cantilever celebrates the release of captured birds back to nature. The roof drains to a central skylight (fondly referred to as the squoculus) to capture rainwater and filter it through vegetation, soil, and rock before returning it to the floodplain.


Confluence Hall 2017

Date: 7/12/17
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Others Involved: Katherine Hartung Samantha Strang Raw Creative MH Companies VonMod With Gaia Designs Ecologic Design Build Student Researcher:Sofia Bruni Adam Buehler Joshua Chandler Robert Chesnovar Marika Davis Meghan Duarte-Silva Carl Faler Eileen Gehlhausen Sasha Godinez Kelsey Grundman Kurt Hartmann Ryan Helle Ryan Johnson Danielle Jones Benyamin Khezri Alex LaVoy Alexander Martin Joel Miller Olivia Mott Mason O’Farrell Ali Reed Brandon Smith Rebekka Thy Hunter Wells Lidia West Kelsey Wotila Liezl van Wyk Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld
William Koning
Andy Paddock, PE

The Confluence Hall project was designed and built in 19 weeks by 27 students from [name withheld for blind review]. Confluence Hall is situated between the Wingate Cliffs and the La Salle Mountains just outside of Moab, Utah. The building serves as the main community space for the Colorado Outward Bound School’s Southwest Program. The students, staff, and instructors use the hall for course briefing, training, and community meals, with dormitories to the north, and the warehouse and workspaces to the south.

Located on the footprint of an old doublewide trailer (that was sold to help finance the project), Confluence Hall reused the foundation, patio, and existing infrastructure to keep costs low and the construction timeline brief.

The students worked with the staff and instructors of Colorado Outward Bound to create a successful structure that would best serve the organization. The team concluded that Confluence Hall should become a communal space that allows programmatic flexibility, mitigates the sun and wind, provides structural efficiency, and uses a palette of honest material while contextually linking to the rest of the site.

The program is organized from north to south into four zones – exterior gathering, interior gathering, cooking, and “the spa.” The thresholds between each zone are divided by light and accented by walnut millwork. The flexibility of the program is realized by a series of operable openings. Between the indoor and outdoor spaces, large Nana Walls open to provide connections between interior and exterior cooking and indoor and outdoor dining. These openings allow the spaces to connect to one another for large raucous gatherings. A large operable walnut wall provides flexibility for the kitchen to be closed to the dining room, separating workspace from meeting space. Smaller, more intimate spaces are tucked within the walnut millwork, providing places of escape for smaller gatherings.

In “the spa” a large sink overlooks the bluffs to the west while serving both toilet compartments. A large, two-person shower is accessed from the outside, allowing guides coming in from the field a place to rinse off before heading into the building.

The building is set back from the western edge of the existing foundation. This simultaneously creates an exterior walkway, to minimize conditioned indoor circulation and act as a buffer from both the hot western sun and parking lot to the west. On the southern edge of the walkway a concrete wall rises, allowing the large window in the “spa” to view the Wingate Cliffs to the west without seeing cars in the parking lot. On the northern edge of the walkway a hung steel staircase descends from the rooftop deck, and the canopy that covers the north and east patio folds down the western side of the walkway linking to the patio beyond.

The canopy is constructed of four-inch insulated wall panels. The material was left over from warranty work on a telecom building and scheduled to be discarded. The project recycles these panels, reimagining them as large louvers for the patio opening to the eastern view of the La Salle Mountains. The inherent structural capacity of the panels is leveraged to span large distances, minimizing the amount of steel structure required. Using a grasshopper script, the spacing of canopy panels and structure was determined to allow for maximum sun penetration in the winter while allowing minimal sun exposure in the summer. Openings within the overhead canopy allow for fire-pits and a rooftop deck, while other panels are removed to reinforce the thresholds within the building.

Hot rolled steel panels with a hand-rusted patina clad the main portion of building. The cladding helps relate Confluence Hall to other campus buildings clad in rusted corrugated steel. Window openings on the south and west of the structure are veiled with large shade apertures, reducing solar gain and providing depth and privacy for the spaces beyond.

2018 ACSA Design Build Award
2017 AIA Utah Honor Award


Windcatcher House 2010

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: Christopher O’Hara Principal Studio NYL Structural Engineers Student Researcher:Amber Danzl Amy Beresford Cayla McConnell Dominic Herrera Emily Martin Eric Sechrist George Kincaid Jessica Garfin Jocelyn Turkowski Jonah Rogin Joshua Paulsen Katie Carleo Lisa Robins Matthew Joiner Matthew Rennert Mike Sullivan Mark Olsen Nik Rael Nina Afshar Peter Lutz Tina Pruett Wren Hoffmann Faculty Advisor: University of Colorado Faculty:
Rick Sommerfeld
Rob Pyatt

DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah:
Hank Louis
Mitch McCombs
Andrew Foster
Cynthia Bithell
Atsushi Yamamoto

“Windcatcher House” was designed for a single mother and her son in Southeastern Utah. The design aims to protect from the harsh desert climate, while utilizing the beneficial attributes of the natural elements. This manifests itself in the focal point of residence, the central hearth, or “windcatcher.” The hearth naturally acts as both the primary cooling and heating source for the home, utilizing passive evaporative cooling through wetted media within the tower, and a wood stove at its base. Thermal mass is utilized through compressed earth blocks surrounding the stove and rammed earth walls, protecting the home from harsh winds and the intense summer sun.


Dairy House & Learning Cube, FEED Denver 2010

Date: 8/8/16
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Others Involved: Christopher O’Hara Studio NYL Student Researcher:Roland Boshmann Evan Burr Bill Daher Mary Dimmick Jessica Ellis Roman Gershkovich Matthew Joiner Austin Pulford Fernando Riviera Katie Roberts Brandon Rutledge Anne Shaver Sarah Sherman Mike Sullivan Jacqueline Ulrich Brett Van Andel Annette Williams Jerrod Wilson Max Zurek Faculty Advisor: Christopher Herr
Brad Tomecek

Built for a non-profit with quite literally no budget, these two structures were designed over the course of a semester and built in three weeks.  To manage this feat, the students worked as hard on fundraising and donation procurement as they did on design and construction. The Learning Cube operates as an outdoor classroom, first stop on the farm tour, orientation device, and visual icon for the property.  The Dairy House provides a teaching facility for goat milking, goat and sheep shearing, as well as protection from the sun and wind for the occupants.  Both structures make use of salvaged, scrap, and donated materials that expose the element of time as revealed in materiality.




Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Date: 7/15/16
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Principal Researchers: Studio NYL Structural Engineers
Christopher O’Hara
Others Involved: Christopher O’Hara Student Researcher:Erin Anglin Ashley Anderson Andrew Atchley Mark Brunner Timothy Clinefelter Bill Daher Justin Feider Lauren Fowler Aris Garrison Randall Hatley Ryan Jensen Tracy Joda Emili Mcmakin William Mensching Michael Nulty John Ostrander Lee Parmenter Rebecca Roberts Heather Scott Robert Stroud Michael Sullivan Jerod Wilson Maximillian Zurek Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld
Rob Pyatt

In contrast to the historic building, the design inserts modern elements creating space by drawing off the location of the northern window. The design uses this window to showcase the natural light revealing the space in different ways throughout the day and over the course of the changing seasons. This natural light also helps define the space in the entry and museum store. Making a connection to Colorado and addressing issues of sustainability, the new design uses salvaged and recycled materials when appropriate.


Village 23

Date: 8/22/16
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Student Researcher:Juan Carlos Baños, Jessica Hillman & Marqus Perez Faculty Advisor: Andre LH Baros

The Narrows is focused on two main narratives that I had to design around: One is a meditation space, and the other is water. What you see in the model is just a small piece of a much larger maze that makes up the entire project. My goal was to provide a journey for individual meditation in a crowd of people through creating narrow paths through water and offering unique moments that improve the visitor’s overall experience. 
 
I wanted to give each person his or her own experience along a single path, but the project also had to accommodate 100-plus visitors. To enable multiple visitors to enjoy the same space, the path had to be lengthened, and thus the maze was born.  This allowed for enough walkways for everyone, but also gave me opportunities to incorporate areas that change the visitor’s experience. 
 
The pathways are very narrow and are slightly submerged under the water, which forces visitors to focus on where they are walking. This allows each person to block out the rest of the world and meditate as he or she travels along a path. As you can see in the model, the metal wall panels are spaced further and further apart, which has a two-fold effect. It results in varied light conditions along the water-covered pathways, while also lightening up the mass as it cantilevers or spans. 


Village 23














The Narrows​

Date: 8/22/16
The Narrows rendering of interior space
Student Researcher:Cameron Hemenway Faculty Advisor: Andre LH Baros

The Narrows is focused on two main narratives that I had to design around: One is a meditation space, and the other is water. What you see in the model is just a small piece of a much larger maze that makes up the entire project. My goal was to provide a journey for individual meditation in a crowd of people through creating narrow paths through water and offering unique moments that improve the visitor’s overall experience. 
 
 
 
I wanted to give each person his or her own experience along a single path, but the project also had to accommodate 100-plus visitors. To enable multiple visitors to enjoy the same space, the path had to be lengthened, and thus the maze was born.  This allowed for enough walkways for everyone, but also gave me opportunities to incorporate areas that change the visitor’s experience. 
 
 
 
The pathways are very narrow and are slightly submerged under the water, which forces visitors to focus on where they are walking. This allows each person to block out the rest of the world and meditate as he or she travels along a path. As you can see in the model, the metal wall panels are spaced further and further apart, which has a two-fold effect. It results in varied light conditions along the water-covered pathways, while also lightening up the mass as it cantilevers or spans. 


The Narrows








Meditation Through Water

Date: 8/22/16
Meditation through water model elevation
Student Researcher:Hector Saldivar Faculty Advisor: Brad Tomecek

The goal of the project was to create a meditation and healing center for residents of the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood in Denver. The core idea was to use the sound of water to help people focus. The site challenges included a 14-foot grade change and a lack of sunlight due to an adjacent 12-story building.  
 
In response, I conceived a two-story building with an underground parking area and a series of tranquil spaces illuminated by skylights. The front of the building features a public plaza with a waterfall, which draws people into the facility. Once inside, visitors encounter the main mediation area, which has a number of personal meditation pods. An interior garden contains the source of water and acts as a connection between the active social space and the private individual spaces. Throughout the center, the sound of water helps people forget about their stressful lives and meditate. 

Meditation Through Water