Studio K2 Ramblings
SK2 is Thankful For…
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward
Everyday there is so much to be thankful for, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving we would like to share a few things we are thankful for.
Studio K2 would also like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and a reminder to share the things you are thankful for!
Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Studio K2!
Art Back into Architecture: The Search for Patio Inspiration
After a busy week of meetings and deadlines, the office found time to take a Sketch Day. The place chosen to sketch was Postinio in LoHI. This adventurous sketch day ended up being a quest for patio inspiration.
One of the projects being worked on at the time was a patio design for a restaurant with distinct design requirements. Postinio, coincidentally, has a beautiful, large patio and a unique interior design making it the perfect opportunity to get ideas and inspirations for our design. Interesting design elements about the restaurant include a wall made from books, stunning light fixtures, playful wall paper, and exceptional branding all the way from the space to the food plating.
The surroundings were also very inspiring to our creative minds. The patio we were sketching from was adjacent to other restaurants and beer gardens, making one continuously long porch. We were surrounded by beautiful, full trees in which one felt within them from the patio. Pockets of downtown or the neighboring park could be seen within little moments framed by the trees and large umbrellas.
It was a beautiful day to sketch outside and a great way to close out the summer.
Art Back into Architecture: SK2 + Goed Zuur + Happy Hour!
So, this post is showing some of our concept sketches when designing the interior of 2801 Welton…. just kidding these are our drawings from Sketch Day at Goed Zuur!
That’s right Studio K2 went and had a Sketch Day at our 2801 Welton renovation project. After much time imagining how one’s design will turn out in real life, it’s only natural to go see it in action. So of course, we went and had a Sketch Day to experience the unique atmosphere and eclectic selection of beverages.
While there we sat at the designed, two-tiered tables allowing us a complete view of the bar with the keg and stemware storage acting as the back of bar (one of the central focal points of the restaurant); as well as, the featured wall made of wood planks, spiraling from a clock. These are just some of the interior elements that display Goed Zuur’s brand, while creating a one-of-a-kind environment. Since we got there early in their day’s opening, we got to see the place fill up with people who also became a part of the atmosphere.
Thinking we were unique, enjoying beverages and sketching, one of the servers informed us that she sees a lot of people come in and spend hours coloring in coloring books or playing board games. So, if you are looking for a place to enjoy your soothing activities/hobbies, Goed Zuur is the place to go!
Overall, we are so pleased on how it turned out and are so thankful for being given the opportunity to design for such an originative client!
Fresh Perspectives: Meet Our Summer Intern
This summer Studio K2 had the pleasure of introducing the world of architecture to our Summer Intern, Nethania! Hopefully we didn’t scare her away before she could fully dive in!
Nethania was introduced to our office via the Colorado “I have a Dream” Foundation. (Dreamers) Dreamers adopts classrooms in select schools, and stick with them throughout there schooling. Their goal is to provide the students with opportunities and tools that encourage them to do well in and graduate high school. Furthermore, they focus these tools and experiences so that the students aim to continue their successes through continuing their education and ultimately work toward the career of their dreams.
It is a bit interesting to think about all the things that would have had to happen for Nethania’s and Studio K2’s paths to have crossed.
In the third grade, Nethania’s class was adopted by the Dreamers Foundation. Dreamers worked to give Nethania and her fellow classmates diverse opportunities to explore colleges and introduce them to various types of resume boosters. Part of which is taking the students to conferences/trips with a focus on exploring different colleges and areas of study, as well as, walking them through the looking for/interviewing process of finding jobs/internships.
Nethania, having an interest in both architecture and engineering, previously did an internship with an engineering firm and wanted the opportunity to experience an architecture firm before going into college, in order to get a better idea of which direction she wants to go in. Thus, her focus for an internship this summer was to work with an architecture firm.
From Studio K2’s path, one of our wonderful clients is involved in the Dreamers Foundation and mentioned to us a seminar the program had to welcome new companies (in the hopes of attracting different fields), ultimately to give their students more opportunities and more fields of interest to explore. After attending the seminar, Studio K2 was excited and inspired to spread the fun of architecture and get a summer intern.
After interviewing a few interns, Nethania was brought on board!
Nethania, is from Denver, and is going into her senior year of high school. She became interested in architecture at a young age. When adopted by the Dreamers program, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She had responded by saying she wanted to go into construction and be just like her dad.
The counselors in the program had suggested to her about going into the field of architecture. They set her up with a mentor who gave her books on architecture, showed her how to draw some architectural elements such as doors, and built card structures together.
When asked, Nethania described that her goals going into the internship was to:
- Get a better idea of what architecture is all about.
- Get more information on what the process is to become an architect
- Get a better understanding of the work of an architect.
Additionally, she explained that she had expected to have to do all the drawings by hand and was unaware of drafting programs, such as AutoCAD.
While here at SK2, Nethania had the opportunity to work on several projects and was introduced to AutoCAD, the ANSI regulations, drawing interior elevations and floor plans, organizing a samples library, picking out furniture for interior design, and putting together a look book for clients. We hoped to engage her into our office life style while giving her enough tools and experiences to further her in her career successes.
As she enters into her senior year of high school, Nethania is looking to attend a university with a focus in architecture and engineering. Her top choice thus far is CU Boulder; but if given the opportunity to go out-of-state, she would like to attend either UCLA or Pratt Institute.
Since the summer is almost over (just a bit behind on this posting) Nethania has finished her internship. We are excited to have had her apart of our office, loved the work she did, and we wish her the best of luck on graduating high school and getting into the college of her choice. We hope to have her on board in the future!
Art Back into Architecture: SK2 Introduces Sketch Days to our Summer Intern
After months of busy schedules, the office was finally able to squeeze in some sketch time, taking a quick trip to Union Station (but this time tackling the interior). On this particular Sketch Day SK2 had a special participant, our summer intern!
Nethania, who came to us via The Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation, had just started venturing into the world of architecture when the office was eager to introduce her to the field by having a Sketch Day! Be on the lookout for another blog post all about Nethania!
The SK2 team had many exciting and inspiring elements to sketch within the grand interior of the renovated transportation hub. In fact, the well-appointed architectural features of the palatial space made an appearance in our drawings:
One of the attributes of Union Station’s interior is the large, bright open space within the Great Hall. The space’s openness is primarily due to the many “multi-story arched windows and bays” casting light into the room. (Source.) Thus, it’s no wonder why the Beaux-Art style windows were a main focus for many of our sketches. Some of us even had similar ideas of sketching what was outside the windows, as the composition so perfectly framed the city outside.
Much like the grandiose windows that play a big part in the interior environment of the Great Hall, the light fixtures also add decorative elements to “Denver’s Living Room.” From wall scones, to pendants and chandeliers, the station (and our sketchbooks) is/are scattered throughout with a variety of lighting elements.
The large chandeliers, a major focal point of the interior of Union Station, were a big part of the renovation. The original building once had three chandeliers that were replace with dull fluorescent panels sometime before the renovation. The new design included the re-establishment of chandeliers similar to the originals in order to bring back the fundamental characteristics of the historic building. (Source.)
Some not so historic elements but still important benefactors in the disposition of “Denver’s Living Room,” and also drawing inspirations were the shops, people and potted plants that bring vibrant life to the significant space.
The Great Hall of Union Station is home to many diverse shops, restaurants, and cafés. The pulsating energy the program brings to the space is demonstrated in the sketches.
The purpose of the renovation of Union Station was to bring together the people of the city through one central transportation hub, making it no stranger to the different faces that pass through its doors. SK2 teammates captured some of the faces in their drawings.
Strategically placed within the shops, the people, and the movement are various organic still-life that caught the attention of many sketchers. Though just a small element within the Great Hall, the potted plants make a big impact on the personality of the historic Union Station.
Office Successes: Historic Preservation an SK2 Specialty
Over the course of 11 years the leadership of Studio K2, Kevin Koernig and Geneva Kowalski, have worked together developing a passion for reviving old structures. During that time, Studio K2 has completed several historic preservation projects throughout the Denver area. Looking back at our accomplishments, we can say that Historic Preservation is one of our key (and probably our most fun and challenging) areas of practice, with a focus on restoring an existing structure, to give them a bright new future. This work has found honor for these historic buildings in the number of awards that have been bestowed upon them.
These are a collection of historic buildings that the Studio K2 team have had the honor of restoring and giving new life.
- The Saddlery Building – winner of the 2012 Historic Denver Award.
Built in the 1900s, the Saddlery building was a warehouse for suppliers of pumps, windmills, and eventually saddles.
Back in 2007, when Kevin was still the Principal Architect of the Lawrence Group team, the old structure was first brought to Kevin’s attention as the last remaining Grand Old Warehouse to be renovated in Downtown Denver. Then when the Lawrence Group transitioned into Studio K2, the Saddlery Building was one of the first projects completed (8 years later) with the young firm.
During the 8 years the renovation project existed, it was in the hands of two firms and two separate owners, but always under the care of Kevin. The goal for the clients was to maintain the building as its original self as much as possible.
In the end, Studio K2 was able to keep and restore the original windows, restore the brick façade, and add parking to the basement. The design also accommodated “ground level improvements to integrate the building to the pedestrian, provide retail and restaurant space, four stories of office space, [and] add a new penthouse with copper cladding.” (Source.) As Kevin explains, “its every architect’s dream to work with copper,” and SK2 was very excited to include it in the renovation without over powering the historic characteristics.
Along with the copper, a key feature of the design includes the incorporation of a German made HVAC system. The Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) system reduced the size of the ducts to accommodate the structure’s low ceiling heights. The building retains a comfortable indoor temperature without drawing attention to the mechanical system that is integrated into the architecture allowing the existing “heavy timber construction to remain the star of the show.” -Kevin
- Sternberg Building or The Court House Professional Building | 1959 – winner of the Littleton Preservation Award.
This 1960s structure was to become the annex building to the courthouse in Littleton, Colorado. Originally the office of Eugene D. Sternberg, principal of the first architecture firm from Littleton and architect of Arapahoe Acres and Arapahoe Community College, it was important to restore the historic nature of the building while having the least amount of impact on the building. (Source.)
The split-level (no elevator) building with many 1960s architectural features posed many challenges when updating the building to current ADA standards. Working with the existing structure and the building code, Studio K2 was able to make renovations that accommodated the new program without taking away from Littleton’s Star-itect’s work or adding a lot of additional cost to the overall budget. The original wood work that Sternberg had in his office remains in tack.
- 2801 Welton – winner of the 2016 Historic Denver Award
This two story building, built in 1895, had seen many residences throughout its lifespan once being home to a hotel, soul and Chinese food restaurants, a Jazz Club, and the American Legion. Additionally, the old structure in the Five-Points Neighborhood used to be a cat house and bar in which interesting relics were found in the walls, including a sketch of one of the women.
While the goal of the project was to restore the building as close to the fundamental look and feel of its former self, this project had many challenges when trying to return the building back to its original glory. One of the main struggles was the condition the abandoned building since it had been previously burned and had a leaky roof for many years.
Despite the challenges the project had many successes. The windows were returned to their historic locations, the wood storefront was re-imagined, and the wood details and exposed brick were renovated. Much like the old drawing was found in the walls, another interesting relic was discovered during the process. An old mural for Yuye Café and Coca-Cola from the 1940’s was discovered when the 60 year old stucco was removed from the brick walls, and restored on the exterior facade.
The two-story building is now home to new residences, a new restaurant, Goed Zuur, and office space on the second floor. The restoration of the notable building “was a gift back to Five-Points as an icon of its past history.” -Kevin
To see more about the historic structure and its award, check out Historic Denver’s video:
We like to think that a bit of our office’s historic preservation success has come from the experience and talented work of our Principal, Kevin, prior to him founding Studio K2. Kevin has served on Littleton Historic Preservation board for 10 years and was the chair member for many years. In Kevin’s previous firms, he had the privilege to be the architect of record for the following award winning historic preservation projects.
- Myrtle Hill Lofts – winner of the 2008 AIA Architects Choice Award
A site that laid vacant for many years had a collection of four buildings that once were classrooms for the Denver International School. The buildings were all constructed in different years, ranging from 1906, 1922, 1928 and 1986, each featuring their own characteristics and styles of their years (as well as their wear & tear).
The 1928 building was chosen to be preserved for its architectural significance and style. The major design challenge for this project was the conversion of two very diverse programs. Architectural elements that made up the iconic characteristics of the school were ideal to be preserved in the new program of residential units.
Thanks to the huge neighborhood support throughout the design process, Kevin and his team at the Lawrence Group transformed the historic classroom building into ten luxury lofts. The unique classroom entries were reused as doorways to the lofts, while the units recaptured some of the space within the school’s 14 foot hallways. Additionally, the original casework was restored and reused in the units.
Much like the reuse of the entryways, the team came up with a clever use for the original ¾” inch thick real slate chalkboards. While some living units kept the actual chalkboards hung on the walls as featured elements within the space, others have the chalkboards cut and used as slate tiles around the fireplaces creating a one-of-a-kind focal point.
The collaboration of the two diverse programs, as well as, the distinctive historical elements of the 1928 school building was an architect’s dream to create, “our best unit designs yet.” -Kevin
- Lowenstein Theater – winner of the 2006 DURA Award and the 2006 Historic Denver Award
The Lowenstein Theater was built in 1953 by the patron Helen Bonfils, whose dream was to bring community theater in a “state of the art” theater to Denver. (Source.)
The goal for the project was to re-purpose the building into a new retail use by finding a home for Denver’s iconic business, The Tattered Cover, within one of Denver’s iconic buildings on Colfax.
“Marrying the two was a chance of a life time.” -Kevin
In the end, just about all the important structural elements of the theater were saved and reused for the new use. The stage, lobby, raised seating, the volumes of space, ceilings, and walls of the big auditorium all can still be seen as one immerses themselves within the stacks of books. Additionally, the original significant features of the theater, such as the seats and lighting, were reused throughout the space.
Likewise, the exterior also was renovated turning a dull alley into a lively esplanade. Overhangs were added to the existing light brick and terra cotta facade to create an inviting entrance. The renovations to the area ultimately created a prominent anchor space for the intersection of Colfax and East High School, where the school’s promenade terminates at the theater’s site.
Reflecting about our past projects, Studio K2 can say we have found a passion for old structures, their past stories and the tales they have yet to tell.
Art Back into Architecture: SK2 and Construction Entertainment
One of Studio K2’s favorite pass times has been watching the construction of the building going in across the street. Having the perfect view for observing, learning, and of course critiquing from our new office windows, the office enjoys tracking the progress of our future neighbors at 1510 Market Street.
What used to be a vacant parking lot is now being transformed into a four story, steel façade architectural addition to the neighborhood. 1510 Market St, located on the corner of 15th and Market and directly across the street from our office, is to be an addition to the Rocky Mountain Seed Building housing a restaurant on the first floor, office space, and a roof top outdoor dining area. (Source.)
From traffic hold ups, steel installation, and our personal favorite, HVAC deliveries the excitement within the office grows with new developments in the progress of construction. These phases of activity at the job site, allow little moments during the day for the office to assess the work of others fostering our neighborhood, and for interesting side commentary of the construction observation to occur:
“From tiny beams to a mighty truss.” – Bruys
In our efforts to bring Art back into Architecture, the office used our daily inspiration of watching the progress of 1510 Market, and went next door to P.F. Changs (a restaurant we are all too familiar with) to sketch. This time everyone in our office got to participate in our skill development activity.
With all the construction happening near or at the corner of 15th and Market there was so much to reflect on in our drawings. The 1510 Market Site was the focus for some, who found the crane and other equipment on the site to be in the way of their artwork. The sketching activity brought questions about code and damages to the adjacent building to their mind as they looked more closely at the structure when drawing.
Additionally, the construction project just down the street was a focus for others since just days before a porta-potty from that job site was flying high above the cityscape. (See why we find the construction from our window so entertaining?)
Most were intrigued by the existing Rocky Mountain Seed building next to the construction site, focusing on the rustic front elevation. The historic building, which once sold seeds and other farming supplies during the time of mass farming in the area, was renovated into office space in 2014 (Source.)
Moreover the light restaurant activity of the late afternoon, as well as, the artistic elements of P.F.Changs’s façade was an inspiration to some office members’ sketches.
Last but not least, Bruys again somehow was able to attract the attention of fellow sketchers in which he was the motivation behind their oeuvre.
Studio K2 looks forward to seeing the final product of 1510 Market, but will sure be sad once the construction is complete since we will have to find something new to be entertained by during the day.
Studio K2 Welcomes our Newest “Office Manager”
What do you call a dog who designs buildings?
Here at Studio K2 we believe that the best office managers are of the four-legged nature. The office has very specific responsibilities and op-paw-tunities that only a furry four-legged office manager can fullfill. To name a few:
- Creating a paws-itive environment
- Being the paw-dyguard from pet-tentially bad things
- Doing various forms of paw-per work
- Providing a dif-fur-ent perspective
As many of you may know we recently had to say goodbye to our long-time manager, Mason. Mason was a great member to the SK2 team, and was always so happy to come to work with Geneva.
Though Mason will always have an important role in our office and place in our hearts, the Studio K2 team is pleased to welcome our newest Office Manager, Rufus; who is ready to follow in Mason’s office paw prints. Rufus is a mix between a Collie and Great Pyrenees. With his one floppy ear Rufus loves to explore the office, exert short bursts of energy before getting all tuckered out, and sniff our trash cans.
Along with all the standard responsibilities of an office manager, Rufus’s specializes include:
- Cheering other office members up on a ruff day (especially those feeling melon collie)
- Client greeter
- Fetching the Branch Manager
Welcome to the Studio K2 team Rufus!
Art Back into Architecture: SK2 takes on Union Station
“Like any form of art, architecture is a process of communication where the designer encodes the messages and the perceive decodes the same. The communication succeeds when intention match the experience. Every form of art has its own tools, media and palette. The tools of architecture are: the form and massing, light and shadow, texture and colour. Its medium is the space and the palette is elements of space making such as columns, walls, floor, roof, fenestrations.”
Going through the day to day activities of running a business, meeting clients’ needs, and adhering to building codes the architect’s “encoded message” is often put on the back burner of their designs. One of Studio K2’s goals for 2017 was to bring the art back into architecture, and bring the artistic message back to the forefront of our minds as we satisfy the needs of the business, clients, and building authorities for each of our projects.
One way in which the office plans to get back in touch with our artistic side is by getting back to our roots, go out into the neighborhood and spend some time sketching. Studio K2’s first stop was Union Station, where we took the afternoon, hung out and sketched whatever inspired us.
Union Station was first fabricated in 1868 to connect Denver to the main rail line in Cheyenne, Wyoming. To support the growth and increase in railroads at the time, the station was built at 17th and Wynkoop by architect A. Taylor in May of 1881. Since then the station has gone through a series of renovations and reconstructions with the help of various architects and styles. (Source.)
In 2001, plans to redevelop Union Station and the surrounding neighborhood began with the goal of creating a “multi-modal transportation network with transit-oriented private development.” Today, Union Station is the catalyst to the local light rail, while the building itself is home to the Crawford Hotel, a Great Hall acting as “Denver’s Living Room,” and other public and transit facilities. (Source.)
Studio K2 has its own personal history with the grand structure. From 2009 to 2010, SK2’s office was located in Union Station. As Kevin explains, “It was the best Class C – office space in Denver. I miss my 18 foot windows next to my desk.” The studio was asked to leave when the building was to be converted into the hotel. After which, the office was moved to the Garden Level (basement) of 1408 Wazee – “until we saw the light on April 1st (No Foolin’) of 2016 in our current location.” (-K2)
Union Station was a great place to jump back into sketching and drawing as there were so many things to be inspired by. Some were interested in the people and the constant coming and going of traffic, making you think back to before all the development when there was not a lot around. Likewise, some studio members and Kermit the Frog became the muse to other’s drawings. While, others were intrigued by the little elements and details that decorate the historic building greeting people to Downtown Denver. “I practice how I see the world through my hand.” (-K2)
Overall, the artistic afternoon was a great way for the office to rediscover our artistic message and brush some of the rust off our hand drawing skills. We hope that as we do more sketching, the office overall will improve our sketching skills and inspire others in the profession to work to bring art back into architecture.
“Thus in essence art and architecture are inseparable. Art finds its place in architecture through structure, spaces or surfaces and inspires from nature, materials engineering or even the philosophy.”
An Afternoon of Decision Making
What is not often discussed in architecture is how many hours are spent at your desk sitting behind a computer. But every so often, the office gets a little treat when samples are delivered. On this particular occasion, the office got to partake in choosing a tin ceiling pattern for the second floor of our award winning 2801 Welton project.
Studio K2 and Star Mesa Development have been in the works of renovating and restoring this 120 plus year old two story building. The first floor of this historic building will accommodate a restaurant featuring a steampunk interior design. With construction underway for the restaurant, the second floor is to become home to a real estate office. The goal for the second-floor office space was to faintly mimic the first-floor ambience while keeping with the historic characteristics naturally provided by the structure. Thus, the rustic, and simultaneous industrial, aesthetics of a tin ceiling became a clear fit. This just left the question of what type of pattern best represents the concept?
After looking through a handful of samples, the choices were narrowed down to four patterns. With our excitement growing from the chance to stretch our design opinions (and our legs), the decision was made to install the four remaining samples temporarily into the studio’s ceiling grid (you know to get the complete look and feel of the tin ceiling).
The office was split in which was the overall favorite. Some liked the look of simplicity, some were attracted to the strong organic configuration catching their eye, while others liked the secondary tessellation formed when the same panels are aligned. The one thing everyone could agree on was the type of finish to be applied to the tin ceiling.
What we had learned from this afternoon of decision making was that Studio K2 is made up of designers with different aesthetic palates and when our ideas collaborate something creative is likely to develop. Now, back at our desks behind our computers we can bring the results of these imaginative, collaborative, and fun decision making breaks to life.