Week 15

This week I worked on a few different projects again.  I continued to work on McNichols, redlining  and figuring out whether our plaza steps at the entry will be able to have tiny LED lighting recessed within them for dramatic appeal at night.  I also helped design and build in Revit with Kelly and Ozi what the stairs from the first floor to the second floor will look like.  We needed to upgrade these stairs to meet code, but of course they have to be more than just concrete cast in place, so we are playing with glass guardrails, possibly acid etched mimicking the pattern of the intricate historic iron guardrails from the second to third floor, treads and risers within a stringer made from a c-beam, much like the 2nd floor stairs as well, and lighting underneath the stairs, covered by glass as well.

I also spent a good chunk of time this week working on initial design options for Eagle Library.  I had to get in contact with the Town Planner to figure out the regulations for parking which are 1 spot per 100 sf, and we typically suggest 1 per 250 sf.  So we needed to figure out if we could suggest something other than the requirements set up by the Town of Eagle.

In addition to these two larger projects I worked on putting together a poster for the Historic Elitch Theatre to show the renovations that have been completed and are in progress.  This poster was requested of us by the Elitch Theatre for the Doors Open Denver event this weekend, kind of like a giant open house all over Denver.  Finally, I pulled together some cut sheets for another designer, Eric, for lighting in 35th and Larimer, a multi-family housing complex.  I was also able to select a main lighting feature for the lobby area of this building.


Week 14

This week at Humphries Poli was jam-packed with exciting events and happenings.

I knew I would be traveling to Eagle, Colorado with Dennis on Tuesday, so Monday was spent preparing all the materials we needed for our mind-breaking sessions with the library staff of Eagle Valley.  This included printing and cutting and organizing tags for the Building Breaking activity, printing floor plans, google earth maps of the site and surrounding neighborhood, and large sheets with the various categories for the Mind Breaking activity.

Tuesday, Dennis and I left the office at 6:30 in the morning to be there for our first session at 9:00 in the morning.  Honestly, it is probably one of the more beautiful drives to get up early for.  During the driving portions, Dennis regaled me with stories of different projects he has worked on, what it is like working in the public sector, people he has met along the way, committee’s he has served on, as well as Chair positions he has held.  Dennis is someone who is very passionate about design as well as serving the community where he is at.  That is probably why all of the projects he works on honor the community and environment around them so well.  He held the Regional Presidential Chair of AIA for a while, and was asked to serve on the national committee as well, but decided he wished to make an impact on the people whom he would be speaking to everyday, and the place where he was living.  He also participated on a lot of work for Civic Center Park in Denver to revitalize the park and turn it into something that was beautiful, usable, and honoring to the city instead of what it was previously, a mecca for druggies and homeless people.  In order to do this, at one point they hired Daniel Libeskind to do some concept work for the park.  At the time, Daniel Libeskind had recently built the Denver Art Museum just to the south of Civic Center Park.  It ended up not working out with Mr. Libeskind, but because they were clients of his, Dennis was invited to attend Libeskind’s 60th Birthday Party at Rockefeller Center.  That is just one example of the many relationships he has been able to build through his involvement around the city and through the firm.  On the way back I asked him what advice he would give to a younger Dennis, and so I will pass that knowledge on to you as well.  Dennis recommends, “Get involved!”  Whether it is with your church, AIA, Landmarks Preservation, a homeless shelter, whatever, get involved with your community, build relationships, find out what is going on in the location where you are, and do something about it.  We have the privilege to impact and literally BUILD our environment, so don’t selfishly keep your talent, knowledge, and perspective to yourself.

In regards to the actual sessions with the Eagle Public Library Staff, we held a morning session and an afternoon session which were basically identical.  We started with a presentation by Dennis, introducing who we are, what we are doing, and then basically showing lots of images and examples of different aspects of libraries, while the participants were instructed to write down things that they liked and did not like on separate sticky notes for later activities.  After this, we participated in two different activities: the first, mind-breaking where large sheets were hung around the room with different categories like Children’s Spaces, Reading/Shelving, Technology, Staff Spaces, Sustainability, etc. and the participants placed their sticky notes within the various categories.  The second activity was building breaking, where we had sets of tags printed out with different categories such as front door, best view, children’s, adult, book drop, meeting room, makerspace, etc. and the participants placed them on existing floor plans where they thought the different areas should go, as if they were the architect for a day.  We then had a discussion about the building breaking as well as the mind-breaking.  This was very helpful to see them get inspired and excited, and really engage with their space and inform us of what was important to them, or what they needed.  We will see what happens from here.  Right now our scope is to only provide concept work for them to allow them to see what they would like to do from here on out.

The rest of the week was spent organizing and beginning a report and a sketchup model for Eagle Public Library, as well as some work on McNichols.  I actually got to visit the McNichols building on Thursday with Kelly for a site visit.  We had a lot of items to verify, dimensions of the interior, staircases, and lighting layout.  I have discovered that accurately building and modeling architecture that is both historical and existing, where you are renovating and not demolishing, is difficult.  The only drawings we have to work off of are plans from 1906, the building was actually completed in 1910, and has undergone work since then.  Also, we inherited the current Revit model from people who no longer work at Humphries Poli, so when our Revit model was vastly different from Structurals Revit model, we needed to verify a lot of items.

Other exciting events from this week including re-arranging our studio, so I now sit in a completely different spot from where I have been.  We also had a “Fresh Designs” presentation on Wednesday night that I attended.  This is when we ask a fellow employee to present their recent work, from college, or wherever they worked previously, and from Humphries Poli in the evening right after work.  This is fascinating to see what other architecture firms are doing, or have done, and ask questions and get to know a co-worker a little better.  Various micro-brews are consumed as well.  We are also at the very beginning of a 21 week long celebration of the firm’s birthday, so the first e-blast was sent out this week, and we held a lick and stick party to mail out the 1000 invitations to our 21st birthday party on May 21st.  Thankfully I will still be working there at that time, so I will be able to celebrate too!  The final exciting piece of this week was very special and I am glad I was able to be there to experience it.  Yesterday Dennis and Joe, current principals, founders, and owners of the firm, announced that Ryan and Jane are now owners and principals of the firm as well.  This was wonderful to witness, as Dennis remarked that they never thought they would make it this far, and Joe commented that he was sure they would make it three months, but to find people who would want to carry on Dennis and Joe’s legacy is something they had not even dreamed of.  It is a little bit like a father being proud of his child graduating from college.  All in all, this has been an exciting week at HPA.

Week 13

This week consisted of two intense projects.  Last week Kelly took a trip up to Ft. Collins to start a new mixed use historical preservation project.  This project consists of taking an old Feed and Supply building near the railroad tracks, renovating it, and dividing it into several business, retail as well as restaurant.  My job was to take the as built plans and elevations, which were very poor and lacking quite a bit of information, using Kelly’s photos and measurements from the site visit and creating a Revit file of the building to then deliver to the main architects, Roth Sheppherd which is also located in Denver, for them to begin concept sketches on the project.  Our job in this project is not to be the head designers, but point for the client to try and get a historical grant, as well as advice them on all of the specifications to meet landmark preservation standards and restrictions.  Therefore, it was very important in the Revit drawings to capture the important historical aspects such as the existing façade, grain elevators, windows, roof, headhouse, etc.  Honestly, the building was what I like to call a franken-building, and has seen better days.  I am glad that it will be receiving a facelift, yet keep it’s historic value, details, and charm.

The rest of the week was filled with finishing this phase of work on the McNichols model, which included alterations to the third floor lobby, stairs, and access to the catwalk, all of which I was responsible for modeling the changes.

The very last part of my week was spent beginning to gather materials and prepare for a trip I will be taking with Dennis early next week up to Eagle, Colorado, just thirty minutes west of Vail for a workshop with the staff at the library up there, to gather information from our clients of what they are looking for and beginning that new relationship.

Week 12

This week I worked on a variety of projects.  Monday was spent working on a few favors for Dennis.  I gathered and perused through existing drawings for a new library project we won last week in Eagle, Colorado.  These drawings would then be used by Dennis to create some preliminary concept sketches for the library, who is debating whether or not they want to remodel or expand or renovate their existing building.  After looking over the floor plans, he decided they were messy and hard to read, so he requested that I reconstruct them to make them cleaner and more readable.  I also gathered images from Google Earth of the town of Eagle (located thirty minutes west of Vail), the surrounding neighborhood, and the site.  I then identified the actual site and approximately how much acreage they owned by looking at county records and zoning maps.  All of this I then delivered to Dennis.  I may even be taking a trip up to Eagle soon to take pictures of the site and the building for Dennis to use to begin concept work on the project.

The rest of the week was occupied with the McNichols project, surprise work from Xcel for the Thornton Substation, work on an apartment complex called Vela (or Peoria Apartments), and further picking up of red-lines on the retail space, 38th and Kalamath.  McNichols work included some quick modeling on the current section model for new designs of the lobby area and third floor alterations for a client meeting on Tuesday morning.  Then Xcel came back to us for revisions to the elevations on the Substation that I have worked on in the past.  Sometimes clients can be incredibly particular.  The fun work for the week was on 38th and Kalamath, learning a little bit more about egress and how to show that in construction documentation, and learning new tricks in Revit as some of the information from previous drawings was missing when we reconfigured the site. On Peoria, I modeled a few different options for signage outside of the clubhouse and created a few images of what that would look like from both the entrance and the back.  I’ll try and upload some of these images if I can next week.

Week 11 (I think)

I am starting to lose track of the weeks, though I guess that is a good sign that I am enjoying myself.  This week contained a lot of variety, small tasks for many different projects.  I quite enjoy this though, as it gives me an excuse to be nosy and learn a lot about different projects.  Another added bonus is that by talking to the people who create the design, you get a behind the scenes look at the nitty-gritty, how and why a client did or did not like an idea, what it is like dealing with a regional building department, talking with contractors and manufacturers, thinking a lot on certain details, such as how high and thick the foundation wall needs to be to address the 100 year flood, etc, and having to take a best guess on color choices when you really do not know what a client wants.

The first part of my week consisted of more work done on the McNichols model.  I will show you more pictures later.  I may have mentioned this before, but I always kind of thought model building was antiquated in modern architectural offices, but it truly has proved to be a very useful tool for the client, who continually asks us to bring the model to the design meetings.  This time we have moved on from the exterior plaza and entrance, and are dealing with the stairs and third floor ceiling.  The stairs on the second floor will be restored to their historical proportions, detail, and grandeur.  The first floor stairs, however, were in debate until Tuesday afternoon.  This was originally the basement of the old Carnegie library, and so it was used exclusively for storage.  Therefore, the stairs were never meant to be used with heavy traffic.  The three options were to make them simple and up to code, up to code with historical replication, and a completely different twist that allows them to lower the landing and open up the lobby area just off of the current grand main entrance.  I modeled these three, and the Denver Arts and Venue people are very open to what we propose, so they chose the completely new option.  The new stairs now also need to be completely enclosed, so we are playing around with the idea of surrounding the stairs and the lobby for each floor in fire-rated glazing.  This provides protection from fires and noise from events on each level, but still gives you a visual of what occurs on each floor as you move to your desired destination.

The next items I worked on were a continuation of the report for Big Piney Library in Big Piney, Wyoming, more work on our office renovation, and prepping and submitting material for the Colorado Landmark Buildings award for Library 21C in Colorado Springs, CO.  Ryan and Dennis returned from the initial Mind-Breaking and Building-Breaking session for Big Piney, so I compiled their results into the report and made several diagrams, explanations, and wordles to help the client visualize the results.  For the office renovation I mainly helped move around furniture, and redrew portions of our site and desired parking for Dennis to take to the contractor for pricing.  For 21C, I cleaned up and redrew the existing plans in Revit to be ready to submit for the award.

Here are some photos of Library 21C before and after, as well as McNichols:

before atrium after atrium

before middle after middle

before staircase after staircase


Week 9

Last week we received the go ahead from the owner of 1230 at 38th and Kalamath as well as Civil to continue working towards 100% completion on construction documents.  That meant that this week was a big push for taking that leap from design thinking to technical thinking.  Originally all of this was going to be due at the end of this week, but due to some issues with Structural regarding the foundation, we had to push the due date out a ways.  I was tasked to spend ten hours on drawing up wall sections and details in Revit and generally just cleaning up the Revit model that we so quickly put together when the façade was changing.  The work was then passed on to another co-worker, Felipe. The rest of the week was supposed to be spent doing work on Big Piney Library.  We won the bid for Big Piney at the beginning of this month.

Big Piney library is located in Big Piney, Wyoming, and Humphries Poli will be the lead architect working on remodel and possibly expansion or relocation for this library.  At the beginning of each project Dennis or Joe and the project manager travel to the location of the project for a few days and conduct “research” sessions with the client.  They invite the owner (board of trustees, private owner, investors, etc.), the staff or employees, and the general public or the users to a variety of interactive meetings.  During these meetings they introduce who they are and get to know their clients.  Then they conduct interviews, surveys, and “Mind-Breaking” or “Building-Breaking” exercises.  These exercises consist of using large scale printed out floor plans and titled tags for people to dictate things like where is the quiet part of the library?  Which entrance do you use?  What is the best view?  Outdoor space? etc.  Mind-breaking exercises consist of participants placing sticky notes with their thoughts on large pieces of paper with categories such as, teen space, renovations, staff, seniors, technology, sustainability, etc.  Once all of this information is compiled and Dennis and the project manager, in this case, Ryan, return all of this information is processed and put into a report that continues to grow as progress continues.  This book is very similar to the other one that I have worked on previously for another library, Campbell County Library.

My job this week in regards to this library was to compile the aerial images, plans, blank plans, and mind-breaking sheets and have those printed and ready to go for Monday.  I also had to print out all of the tags for the exercises.  The funny part is, almost every person who walked past me cutting out these tags commented on how they had to do that too or wish they still did not have to do that.  After these tasks were completed, I began to compile and set up the report in InDesign for when Dennis and Ryan return from Wyoming next week and we start processing the information.

Time in-between working on this report was spent helping Felipe clean up and organize the Revit model, and draw wall sections and details.  I learned a lot about detailing and how walls meet at a parapet, foundation, exterior cladding change, storefront, etc.  We have not spent too much time in school with specifics on flashing or membranes, building wrap, or furring for metal panels, so it was fascinating and slightly confusing at first to learn how all of these make up a wall and how to protect any changes in material or direction from water infiltration.  Tom and Felipe were happy to teach me what I did not understand.

Week 8

This week I finished up the McNichols model on Monday for several meetings with it on Tuesday.  After seeing the whole model come together, I enjoyed the process.  It helped me better understand the building and really allows people a better perspective of the mass and scale of the design.  I found out later from Dennis, Ozi, and Kelly that this was extremely helpful for the client to understand when they presented the model in their meetings.  The team received a forwarded email from Dennis later in the week from the client talking a little bit about the design, but then finishing saying that they were fairly confused about the doors until Humphries Poli showed them the physical model and then everyone loved it and the design was approved.

door closed Bronze Door opened

The day after finishing the McNichols model consisted of me fixing up other older models on display around the office.  This deed at first seemed kind of boring to me, but I was grateful afterwards as I did not realize how tired I was from cruising through building the section model and working late on Monday night to finish that.  Plus, it offered me a chance to learn more about some of the other projects Humphries Poli has completed, speak with the other designers on them, and peek into the archives to find out what parts of the building that were missing looked like and in turn discovering a gold mine of information, presentations, process work, renderings, and client interaction for each project.  I also discovered a brilliant new concept for label making as Humprhies Poli makes a lot of the labels for their models on basswood or chipboard which can’t actually be printed on.  You print a label on paper backwards, and then lay that facedown on the chipboard and basswood and then use an alcohol marker all over the ink and rub the label onto the wood or chipboard.  It is a really fun technique.


Later in the week I was tasked with continuing to work on a project that I did façade studies for: 38th and Kalamath.  The owner and the city have approved the changes to the materials on the façade and now wish to move forward to construction.  Therefore I know am drawing section cuts and details of parapets, material changes in the wall, and where the wall meets the foundation for the entire building.  It is kind of a lot of work, and I do not always understand how to draw some of the details, but it has been a good learning experience, not only in presentation and Revit, but also in building construction.  One of the PMs, Tom, has been working with me to help me understand the connections and the makeup of some of the walls I am not familiar with.

I was also cleared to share some images related to Pret a Porter (the fashion design competition) with you guys.  Here is our concept poster:

Pret a Porter Concept Poster