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What Makes us Different?

We’re often asked, “What makes you different than the other Colorado Architects?” Here are a few examples of what sets us apart...

1. We're a husband-and-wife team.

Designing someone’s home is a highly personal endeavor. For us to create something special for you and your family or friends there must be an open line of communication. We need to understand your daily rituals, how you sleep, work, eat, and relax. These are the moments that make up your life and we’re focused on creating spaces for them that enrich these moments. Your vulnerability throughout this process is something we inherently understand because we live and work together. There is a camaraderie between us and our clients because we understand what it means to create a home together.

We have structured our entire business based on the idea that only want to take on a small number of projects at a time. Andi and I touch every square inch of each project and are personally invested in the outcome. It’s this quality over quantity approach that ensures each project reaches its full potential. We find the most joy in the process of creating architecture. Working with clients to develop the overall concept for a design, building models, crafting renderings, slogging through the drawing of hundreds of details, working on site with the builder to solve problems on the fly, picking tile, wandering through the aisles of the stone yard. All of this is essential to create exceptional work and how we want to spend our days. To trade this work for a maxed-out calendar, filled to the brim with appointments, only to pass off the real work of creating architecture, isn’t something we’re interested in doing. In fact, it’s our worst nightmare.

I’m certainly not saying employees don’t have an important role in growing a business. And someday soon, we’ll be on the lookout for more help in creating our work, because…well, it’s a lot of work. But we will never allow our studio to grow to a point where we (the owners) won’t be available to have a large hand in creating the architecture.

2. We aren’t just designing buildings.

Our priority is to create spaces that facilitate an experience of the natural environment. Spaces that capture morning light when you sit down for your daily coffee ritual. Spaces that smell of warm wood in the sun. Spaces that capture an afternoon breeze. We use natural materials that have a feel, a smell, and age gracefully overtime. All of this leads to a home with spaces that enrich your daily lives in small ways that may otherwise go unnoticed. These experiences create an emotional connection with the environment that extends beyond current trends. These are spaces that people can build a relationship with over time and further a deep connection with their place.

All too often, architecture is thought of as creating a building as an object. This 2D approach leads to a house that might look draw attention when standing on the sidewalk but will fall flat as soon as you walk through the front door. It’s easy to woo people with a sexy façade or a minimalist box, but what is that object achieving…other than looking cool?

Don’t get me wrong, architecture must be beautiful. It must fit into its environment seamlessly in a way that enhances the landscape (more on that later). But like the old saying goes, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” No matter what you’re creating, some people will like how it looks, and some people will hate it. It’s a shallow form of judgment that has little meaning. But, when you form a building by the experience it facilitates and create an emotional connection to the natural environment, it can’t be argued with.

3. We focus on designing homes in the mountains.

When meeting on site with a client for the first time. Standing over a rocky, exposed, expanse of a property, we’re asked, “can you even build something on this property?” The answer is almost always, “yes.” Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of working on several challenging building sites in the mountains. Sites that are so steep and rocky it’s hard to imagine a house existing there. Sites without access, requiring complicated road building to begin construction on the house. These are the projects we love most, but they require special attention to craft a home that nestles itself into this challenging environment without destroying it. We pride ourselves on our ability to achieve success with these constraints and it’s the focus of our work.

We choose to work in the mountains because we love this landscape. Our work is simply a vehicle to gain a better understanding of this environment. Years spent climbing around, hiking through, and camping in these mountains has provided insight into the subtleties of this place and each project grants an opportunity to explore this relationship.

4. Our work doesn’t stand out.

In Boulder, we have the unique pleasure of working in an impossibly impressive landscape. A landscape we simply can’t compete with. Like I mentioned above, our homes are created to provide an experience of this landscape, not become a beacon in the landscape. This low ego approach is the ethos of our process. We are more excited about creating an invisible building that, once inside, unfolds in surprising little moments that were unperceivable when viewed from outside. You’re never going to make something more beautiful than the Rocky Mountains, so instead, we try not to screw them up.

So how do you create a building without overshadowing the landscape? Quietness. Architecture that impresses itself gently into the environment. Simple forms, natural materials, and a profile that understands and highlights the terrain it lives in. We draw inspiration from the subtleties of a place and use it to inform larger decisions that ground the home. When beginning with an understanding of the natural formwork of a particular place, you can insert a building that is sensitive to it.

The name FOLLOW came from the idea that all our work begins by listening to and understanding the natural environment. Every decision that must be made when designing a home, down to the smallest details, are first vetted with the question, “how will this decision interact with the site?” Being stringent throughout this process, we are confident that the home will be of the land instead of overpowering the land.

‘till next time,