Stories, True and Otherwise

Stories, True and Otherwise

NATURALLY MODERN

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The hustle of modern life is pushing a growing number of people from coastal metropolitan hubs to the relatively open spaces of the American west. Colorado added more than 90,000 residents last year, surpassing 5.5 million for the first time. A little further North, Wyoming ranks 15th in population growth rate. 

With such large-scale influx, our built environment is in a constant state of change. But how best to manage that growth and advance design while simultaneously preserving the region's natural splendor?

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WHERE LOCAL MEETS GLOBAL

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When Metropolitan State University of Denver (then Metropolitan State College of Denver) first established an off-site art gallery, the location was far from perfect. Although the lower downtown address may seem like ideal real estate today, in 1990, it was a downtrodden neighborhood on the mostly undeveloped outskirts of downtown.

With a 2008 move to the heart of the Art District on Santa Fe, however, something happened: The Center for Visual Art (CVA) blossomed into not only a visible and accessible arm of the university, but also a standalone force that serves the surrounding area. Maintaining that balance begins with relevant, challenging exhibitions and extends to community involvement and even workforce development.

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BEHIND OPEN DOORS

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The open office has been around in one form or another since the 1960s, but thanks to a 21st century resurgence, the concept has gone mainstream. Startups ignited the shift largely out of necessity, but organizations of all stripes and sizes have embraced the shift in pursuit of heightened collaboration—not to mention the strategic leveraging of stratospheric real estate costs.

By some estimates, 70% of all offices now boast an open floorplan. The average worker now spends less than half their time sitting at an assigned desk. Communal work environments offer tons of upside, but studies show these gains often come at one big expense: privacy.

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WHAT TO SEE AT MoP 2017

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After a successful inaugural run in 2015, the biennial celebration known as Month of Photography kicks off again in March (although many exhibits open sooner), with hundreds of events taking place at schools, museums, and galleries throughout the region.

This year’s theme, Between the Medium, explores the diverse ways artists utilize photography to anchor or enhance their work. Photographer Mark Sink is the program’s Founder and Director. “This is a very fertile time for fine art photography,” said Sink. “It creates amazing opportunities for the photographic arts community, and the educational component is very rich and inspiring.”

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THE ART OF COMMUNITY

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In November, Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe announced an all-new celebration of our rapidly growing creative culture: To Denver, With Love. The program, open to artists of all backgrounds, mediums, and experience, gave residents a unique opportunity to express their love for the city while also demonstrating the importance of art in our lives and communities.

Now comes the big reveal.

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NOW IS THE TIME

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Of all the metrics that define our lives — the spatial dimensions of homes, our fluctuating body weight, and so on — none is as elusive, or as powerful, as time. We use it not only to measure the intervals between meetings or birthdays, but also as a guiding force that helps shape and define our day-to-day existence.

In fact, time has become such an integral part of our lives that it now registers as more than a metric; it’s an entity unto itself. We think of days, seasons, and years not as units of measurement, but as the sum of every moment and milestone that occurs within their boundaries.

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HERE COMES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

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The ascent of the River North Arts District (RiNo) to the status of significant Denver neighborhood happened fast, as gaggles of exciting new restaurants, breweries, shops, galleries, and housing seemed to emerge in unison. What was once a forgotten outpost of warehouses on the far side of downtown now rates among the city’s hottest places to live or work.

Enter Central Market, a one-stop shop that caters to those searching for anything from basic grocery items to fresh fish and charcuterie to pre-assembled grab-and-go meals. The 12,000 square foot space opened this fall at the corner of 27th and Larimer Streets, in the same 1920s-era building that now houses jazz-and-supper club Nocturne.

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RIGHT ON TARGET

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There’s no substitute for good modern furniture, but investing in quality often means having to swallow hefty price tags. Sure, you get what you pay for. But the disparity between well-made and affordable is so vast that many lovers of great design get left out entirely.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope coming to a store near you — to a Target store near you. The retail giant recently announced a partnership with Dwell, one of the nation’s leading design publications, on a collection of more than 100 pieces of home furnishings ranging in price from $16 to $399.

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ROOM WITH A VIEW

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When Room & Board arrived in Colorado in 1991, the family-owned home furniture brand settled in the still-developing neighborhood of Cherry Creek North. Working with Roth Sheppard Architects, the company transformed a bland warehouse into a chic, thoroughly modern shopping destination. Their furnishings and accessories reflected design movements ranging from Shaker and Bauhaus to Scandinavian and midcentury modern, and Denver responded accordingly. 

A candid Q&A with Room & Board Founder and CEO John Gabbert, and Roth Sheppard Architects Founder and Principal Jeff Sheppard.

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THE TIES THAT BIND

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By virtually any traditional metric, Knotty Tie Company is a success. Since launching in 2013, the Lincoln Park-based purveyor of custom-made ties, scarves, and pocket squares has enjoyed soaring revenues, a growing staff, and the move to bigger facilities. Earlier this year there were visits from presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

But there is another, less conventional metric that may be even more significant: They have the best lunch hour for miles. If that seems an odd way to measure success, it is. Wonderfully so.

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ALL TOGETHER NOW

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It was 2010 when Ryan and Jill Ahrens began the hunt for a lot perfectly suited to the creation of their dream home. Whereas many Colorado residents prioritize mountain views or low-maintenance landscaping, the Ahrens’ were more concerned with finding a place that offered true connection with the natural environment; a site that would support a low-slung, modern home that hugged the land rather than overshadowing the surrounding beauty; somewhere to merge indoor and outdoor without sacrificing privacy.

Eventually, they found it.

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ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT

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During and after a career that spanned more than four decades, industrial designer Robert Welch’s work has appeared in museums from New York to London to Bergen, Norway. He pioneered the introduction of stainless steel cutlery to the United Kingdom. He won prestigious awards and was named Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. 

And yet the Campden Toast Rack, a modest accessory Welch created just one year into his design career, may be his most enduring legacy. 

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GAME ON

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With prime new office space looking out across Speer Boulevard, the Denver office of Vertical Arts wanted to shake things up a bit. Having moved his team from their office in RiNo’s Taxi building to a more central location, Lead Architect Brian Patty was determined to distinguish the space from other local design firms, and from Vertical Arts’ longstanding practices in Steamboat Springs and the Vail Valley.

But in a crowded marketplace, shining a light on the firm wasn’t enough—he was looking to start a fire. And while that may work as a metaphor, Patty and his team took it a step further. They literally started a fire. 

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SHINING THROUGH

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During the course of a cadet’s four years at the United States Air Force Academy, he or she experiences roughly 160 hours of applied character and leadership training. In years past, that work took place in as many as 10 different venues, including off-site locations in downtown Colorado Springs. Bringing it all under one roof required volumes of practical functionality.

For design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, creating something aesthetically beautiful without compromising the surrounding environment required a thorough understanding of virtually all aspects of academy life—not to mention a meticulous and artful attention to detail. Up, up, and away. 

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ANXIOUSLY AWAITING YOUR KINDEST REPLY

SHORT FICTION

Gloria Stahl is a giver. She's served in leadership roles all over town, from the PTA to the neighborhood Bunko Club. Her qualifications for the Avalon Hills Country Club are impeccable. So why is an old friend stonewalling her?

A blackly comic story in four parts.

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DESIGNING INSIDE THE BOX

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Perhaps no backstory better defines the modern entrepreneurial dream than a young upstart launching a risky venture from the dusty confines of their own garage. It’s a narrative that applies to some of the great home-grown businesses of the era, from Disney to Hewlett-Packard to Apple.

There’s a romantic quality to the rags-to-riches story, but telling it in just two parts—first there were rags, later there were riches—tends to obscure the hard work that takes place in between, where success begets growth, and growth begets a whole slew of unforeseen challenges.

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SCULPTING HISTORY

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The building rests along a stretch of South Broadway in Englewood, an unassuming but iconic structure—part of the landscape’s fabric after so many decades but still as eye-catching as the day it first appeared. The raw dimensions tell a muted version of the story: two floors, 32 feet of total height, and 10,000 square feet of interior space. More immediately visible are the dramatic flourishes: its asymmetrical ovoid shape punctuated by three distinct openings in the upper body, including a two-story niche that houses the main entrance.

To the uninitiated passerby, the whole thing looks a little like a spaceship. But much like the man who designed it, the Key Savings and Loan Association building is immeasurably more than the sum of its eclectic parts. 

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A ROUND OF APPLAUSE

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One of the newest arrivals on the Denver micro housing scene is also, paradoxically, among the oldest. Even if the Turntable Studios name doesn’t yet ring a bell, the building it occupies can’t help but be familiar. Built as a prototype hotel in the late 1960s and standing strong in the shadow of two Mile High Stadiums in the decades since, the circular 13-story landmark has for years been a comforting sight along the I-25 corridor.

But in contrast to its historical significance, the building actually represents a refreshingly progressive view of modern living. And it easily could have gone another direction entirely.

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