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Boulder Business Feature: Rodwin Architecture

Edge House   - bestRodwin Architecture is a 12 person, full-service, award-winning design/build firm located in Boulder, Colorado. RA is known for creative excellence, friendly, responsive service, and expertise in sustainable design.  We love everything about this firm and their work, and we wanted to introduce them to you, as well.  We spoke with Scott Rodwin and asked him to share a little bit about the company.  Here’s what he had to say:

What motivates & inspires you in your design? What is your design philosophy?

When we create a home that brings joy to the owners, and supports how they want to live – that’s success. We strive to create a design that is the optimal balance of the site, the budget, our creative inspiration, and most importantly our client’s taste, needs and personality.  Ultimately the house should be the highest possible artistic and functional expression of our client’s life. Last year we designed and built a house for a client who was creating a vacation home.  When they saw it completed, they loved it so much they decided to move here.  That’s what inspires us.

Who are your favorite architects, designers, mentors, etc? 

Santiago Calatraava – I love the way he creates beautiful futuristic forms that are inspired by the central idea of a building (an eye for an observatory, a bird for an airport).  And like Calatraava, I am also a sculptor. Buildings should absolutely be functional, but they should be more than that.  There should be an organizing idea that elevates it into the realm of art, and a form that fully expresses that idea.

Richard Meier – Architect of the Getty, The Douglas House and numerous other of the greatest works of this century, his attention to detail, optimistic view of building’s role in the civic space and simple, clean, modern forms are beautiful and balanced.

Frank Lloyd Wright – He re-invented the house and I love his style.  The deep eaves, thick sculptural walls and detailed integration of his design ideas right down to the furnishings, created truly iconic homes.  Unfortunately he was a bad businessman. His projects routinely went wildly over budget and schedule. What I learned from him was a cautionary tale: just because your buildings are magnificent, it does not give you license to be disrespectful of your client’s other requirements.

What do your clients ask for in their architectural needs? What trends are you currently seeing? 

Sustainability: All of our homes are deep green, and our clients seek us out for that expertise.  We’re getting more clients asking for Net Zero Energy homes.  We’ve completed 5 so far (2 of which are also LEED Platinum).  And our clients want a green home that doesn’t compromise on beauty, quality and style.

Due to the lack of good housing stock in Boulder, we’re also seeing more and more people considering designing and building their dream home from scratch.  This is our area of expertise.

What have your last 3 projects been? 

Our specialty is custom green homes in Boulder, and we have about four under construction at any given time.  Additionally, we do some commercial work, including offices, churches, schools and restaurants.  We recently finished a beautiful expansion and remodel to Japango Sushi on the Pearl Street Mall.

What would be your dream project?

Our passion is designing and building homes for clients that want to do something truly extraordinary.  My dream project would be to create a $5million Net Zero energy home here in Boulder.

20130930-DSC_0145_HIGHHow do you balance life and work?

You can often find me practicing over at Radiance Power Yoga, rafting a river, or boarding down a mountain.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

The cost of custom home construction in Boulder can be a bit of a shock to many people.  New homes are built to a much higher standard than they have been in the past, and Boulder’s standards are the highest anywhere. We’ve become adept at finding the most cost-effective way to achieve the value and quality our clients are looking for, and because we are also the builder we can predict and control those costs very effectively.

Boulder (both City and County) has some of the most complex and restrictive zoning and building codes in the Country.  We have become expert in anticipating and navigating these rules; the first thing we do with all of our client’s is that we conduct a Feasibility Analysis on the property that they are considering purchasing in order to make sure that they can do what they are intending with the property.

What are the main attractions of having both a construction & architecture firm? 

The process of creating a home is complicated.  We’ve developed a unique architect-led, fully integrated design/build system that makes it easy.  It’s faster, less expensive and higher-quality than the traditional owner-architect-contractor arrangement, and it’s been gaining rapidly in popularity as a delivery method.

Do you have a specific style? 

No. Each house uniquely reflects our client’s stylistic preference.  If I had to pick one style that is most exciting to us it would be Modern, but we have created homes in nearly every style: Craftsman, Prairie, mountain, English Cottage, Tudor, Tuscan, Farmhouse…

What is consistent about all our projects is that they are all on the cutting edge of sustainability.

How do you incorporate sustainable design into your projects? 

Rodwin Architecture has helped lead the sustainability movement in Colorado since we opened our doors in 1999.  We integrate green building at every step of the process, and create a holistic design.  We begin with passive solar design and a great thermal envelope, then weave in an advanced mechanical system, renewable energy, excellent indoor air quality, water conserving landscape and plumbing, and environmentally preferable materials (recycled & renewable). We taught Boulder’s official Green Building 101 for five years and have been recognized locally and nationally with over two dozen awards for sustainable residential design.


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