AIA CONFERENCE 2022
As we start a new year, it’s always good to reflect on the past year. One of the highlights for the SAI team in 2022 was getting the opportunity to attend the 2022 AIA Colorado design conference held in our backyard of Keystone. The event was a welcome chance to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, hear from guest speakers, and learn about new ideas within the profession.
The conference kicked off Thursday with speakers covering topics such as: Healthy Communities, what it means to be community architects and how we as architects and community members can ensure that the architecture we create treats all humans with dignity; Inspired Design, the idea that focusing on the client will lead to the smaller details falling into place, and the move towards carbon positivity within the built environment. We followed these speakers up with a trade show demonstrating new and emerging products and technologies we can incorporate into our projects and then the team took a break to ski at nearby Keystone Resort. After our ski break the team returned to hear how architecture can combat loneliness; how the design of a place impacts social interaction, six design guidelines for supporting social health, and the idea that design is never neutral—it is either positive or negative—an idea we found important for our municipal work.
We started our day off Friday with an interactive discussion on biophilic design in architecture, exploring the idea that we can not do this alone and it will take a group effort to continue pushing sustainability within our profession and broke out into small groups to share our “why” as to the importance of pursuing sustainability in our lives and work.
After this discussion there were various breakout sessions where we learned about topics such as: new software tools and techniques that can be used to study and help make decisions on building performance before a building foundation is even poured; the ethics of the profession and firm management; Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), thinking how to encourage alternative career paths within the profession, understanding that a resume can’t tell you everything about a person and that good candidates come from all walks of life, working to prevent architecture from becoming a commodity and to ensure our own dignity and value is not eroded by giving away work to potential clients who see us as a commodity rather than a partner striving to find the best solution to a problem; humanizing firm management, how to become more connected with each other after the disconnect caused by the covid-19 pandemic, active listening to ensure that all voices and ideas are heard, and the value of work-life balance (something that we practice and was visible through our ski break at the conference).
Following the breakout sessions were a series of “learning labs” that talked about the environment impacts of using materials like redwood lumber, the pros and cons of precast concrete as a material for resilience and sustainability, and recent technological advancements within the field of lighting and the benefits of great lighting on the human experience of a space.
The closing keynote explored the emotional connection between people and nature and the benefits of prioritizing connections to the outdoors, natural light, and techniques to bring plants and the outdoors into the spaces we create.
After the conference the team reconvened to discuss the things that stuck out to each of us and how to incorporate these ideas to improve our firm culture, design process, and local mountain community going forward, with a focus on being stewards of meaningful architecture.
SUMMIT PLACE REVITALIZATION
If you have not heard the news, Silverthorne will be welcoming TJ Maxx and Sierra Trading post in 2021!
When our clients reached out to us about helping them with the redesign of the Office Max building in Silverthorne, we jumped at the chance.
There are many buildings throughout Summit County that were once new and vibrant but have lost their charm and functionality over the decades. The old building that is home to Office Max is just one example of an opportunity to revitalize an outdated and underperforming commercial space.
Our client, a Denver based development team, wanted us to help them blend the styles between the modern developments they typically do on the Front Range and the current trends of mountain modern we are seeing throughout the High Country.
Our first steps were to recognize that the entire existing façade of the stores must come off giving us a blank slate to develop a fresh new concept.
The existing canopies created dark and uninviting store entrances. We wanted to create an airy, more open façade to invite users into the spaces. The new 14’-0” tall canopy allows shoppers to see into the stores and allows the stores to more effectively show off merchandise to draw in the public.
The new facades of the stores will be clad in reclaimed barnwood and the canopy will be supported with glulam posts, beams, and rafters with black steel connections.
We are proud to be a part of this revitalization project for our mountain community and we hope this leads to future updates in the surrounding area.
Photos courtesy of Joyce Mueller
If you’ve been to Breckenridge, you have probably seen the historic “yellow church” located on French Street. Otherwise known as St. John the Baptist’s Church, this historic property is getting ready for a major renovation. Thankfully though, this beautiful landmark will not appear different from the outside. Our team has been diligently working for many months along side the church renovation committee and contractor to design a new state of the art facility for the church community to worship in for many decades to come. And we are excited to share that construction is underway!
Perhaps the most challenging component of this renovation will consist of digging out a new basement below the existing Nave. No small feat! In order to minimize weight that will need to be supported during this scope of work, many items are being temporarily removed and will be put back in place once the basement excavation is complete. As the site that the church sits on is quite small, there was no room for an addition so the design team had to get creative in finding a way to add more space. The new basement area will consist of a multi-purpose space that will wear many hats – including serving community dinners, hosting annual meetings, small group bible studies, as well as children’s activities. We’ve had the pleasure of engaging with many church sub-committees in order to make sure that the space fits the needs of everyone. The final product will be a space that everyone who has weighed in along the way can be proud of.
In order to ensure that the multi-purpose space is fully suited to handle all of the different types and sizes of groups, our design team has engaged an acoustic engineer, DL Adams and Associates. Through their expertise and sound calculations, we are able to make finish selections that will both enhance the space aesthetically as well as from an overall sensory point of view. Having a large wide open space with too many hard surfaces (though functional) will not meet the church’s expectations which is to create a space that everyone will feel welcome and comfortable. Finding the balance between function, acoustic control, and comfort, albeit a challenge, is one of the things we love most about architecture and design.
One of the most important goals of the church renovation committee is to ensure that the church is equipped with sustainable features which will serve generations well in the future. Some examples of this include having ample storage for dishes and serving ware that will be used over and over as opposed to disposable products, the use of a high-speed dishwasher to reduce water consumption, high efficiency boilers for a cost effective heating system, as well as the possible use of solar panels. Though solar panels are not allowed on the historic portion of the church, there was an addition to the church completed in 1986 which is not considered part of the original landmark so the team is currently exploring the use of solar panels on this portion of the building.
We are proud to be a part of this project team as this will be a space that will be seen and used by members of the community for many years to come!
COZY SKI CONDO REMODEL
After meeting with the client to understand their design aesthetic and goals, we put together initial design boards.
Once designs are fully settled, we work closely with the contractor and appropriate permitting authorities to get the design approved and obtain a building permit before starting the renovation. At this point you can either take the lead on answering contractor questions throughout the building process or choose to keep SAI involved in construction administration, so you can sit back and enjoy watching your home transform into the dream you have been envisioning and waiting for! In just a few months, you’re ready to move in and show off your new and improved space!
Have a look at these fun, before and after shots for more inspiration!
OUR NEW STUDIO RENOVATION IS COMPLETE!
Our new space features an open office layout which maximizes our ability to work creatively and collaboratively through open communication, as well as gain inspiration through our own built environment. A potentially unrealized benefit to the open office concept is the flow of information that passes from one workspace to the next, even when you are not directly involved in the conversation. Overhearing conversations regarding other office projects, provides each of us with an opportunity to learn in a far less formal process. Information literally flows from one space to the next – whether we hear of a new product line someone is specifying or whether we are taking cues on how other colleagues effectively communicate with clients. This ‘passive’ way of gaining knowledge is one of those ways we are constantly being stretched as designers and professionals in general.
Along with the obvious communication benefits that come with an open office concept, come the challenge of controlling acoustics. In our business, there is still a need to create a balance between collaboration time and time to individually focus on the task at hand or have those confidential types of conversations. The conference room and one private office space within our studio were built with fully insulated gypsum board walls and ceilings. Additionally, SelectSound acoustic ceiling treatment along with carpet tile flooring was installed in a majority of the open office area in an effort to absorb sound. Specialty felt wall panels were utilized in select locations to both add interest through pattern, color, and texture as well as to reduce the number of hard surfaces which allow for sound to bounce off of them.
One of our favorite design features is our new Uplift Desks – these are height adjustable desks which allow each team member to decide when to sit and when to stand. These types of desks are proven to increase energy, improve mood, boost productivity, as well as improve mental focus. At SAI, the importance of each individual’s physical and mental well-being has always been reinforced as a critical component of our business model. It is through this balance, that we feel we can be at our best to serve our client’s needs, not only in design, but by creating life-long relationships as well.
Through this studio renovation process, our office was outfitted with top of the line IT technology which provides the team with the ability to work seamlessly while in the office as well as when working from a remote location. We are thankful that this current world heath situation has not hindered our workflow or the ability to keep in touch virtually with our precious clients!
We look forward to having each of you visit our new space very soon!
NEW LOOK. NEW LOCATION. SAME ETHOS.
We have exciting news!
As you may know, we are moving to a new office space in Frisco and rebranding as Stais Architecture & Interiors!
Our work and community in Breck has served us well for the last 25 years – we are forever grateful. At the same time, we very much look forward to expanding our locational reach and range of services in this more collaborative work environment.
We are currently working on the buildout of this new office, conveniently located right off the highway on Main Street in Frisco. It will include an open floor plan with an entrance off an enclosed pedestrian mall shared with colleagues, local shops, and amenities. In addition to a larger conference room and central kitchen, we are adding an interiors studio and materials library so that our designers will have better resources at their fingertips. Framing is up and contractors are charging ahead with anticipated completion later in the fall. We’re excited to share our new space with you when it’s done!
Refining our name to Stais Architecture & Interiors means that we are expanding our offerings to better serve you. We have been collaborating on interior design projects for many years – we are simply now better equipped to do so in-house. We still believe in quality sustainable design. We still pride ourselves on creating beautiful, well-functioning buildings and spaces for our clients, no matter what the site-specific challenge or desired outcome may be. We simply have grown with experience and organically built a great team of licensed architects and interior designers that want more. Our new name signifies this subtle evolution.
We are a full-service architectural and interiors firm that can provide you with comprehensive design and planning direction from start to finish. We look forward to this new season and will see you in the fall.
New Office and Rebranding!
|Hello friends, colleagues, and clients –
We hope you’re enjoying late summer and want to share a little update about our firm.
We are thrilled to announce, after a great 25 years in Breckenridge, we’re moving to a new office in Frisco! We look forward to sharing this collaborative workspace with you this fall. In the meantime, we can be reached at the same contact info.
We’re also using our relocation as an opportunity to rebrand and better reflect the range of work we do. We are a full-service architectural firm with expertise in residential, multi-family, workforce housing, commercial, and resort projects – our new office will feature an interiors studio to expand our offerings for Summit County, the Front Range, and afar!
The team at Stais Architecture & Interiors
Let’s Talk About Process
If we haven’t had the pleasure of doing a project with you yet, we’d like to tell you about how we work.
Matthew Stais Architects was founded in Breckenridge almost 25 years ago on the basis that we want to do good work in a small mountain community. We thrive on the relationships we’ve built with everyone around us. We call on our clients, consultants, contractors, and permitting agencies for their direction and expertise throughout every project – they empower us to effectively execute on design. Years of collaborating has built trust and created vital partnerships that help us do what we do, better.
Within this framework, we have established an integrated design process that we apply to every project. We focus on up-front visioning and sustainable goal setting early on with all of our clients. We look at the nuances of each site and pull in the right people from our design/build arsenal to guide us through whatever challenge is at hand. We work together with necessary municipalities, fire districts, and permitting agencies, as well as our tried-and-true civil/MEP/structural engineers, landscape architects, wetlands scientists, lighting experts, solar consultants, etc. Through interdisciplinary collaboration and ongoing stakeholder engagement, it means we efficiently address all aspects of the built environment throughout the project. This future-oriented approach leverages sustainability goals to allow for greater impact – achieving maximum energy efficiency, lowering cost, and increasing ultimate building performance. And on top of all this, we collectively strive to make your building look good.
It all comes down to our team of people. By putting our heads and experiences together, we provide you with better service and end product. Come to us with a puzzle…we know and assign the right people to put the right pieces together and work with us on creating great buildings. We value this design community we have cultivated and are always looking for opportunities to grow in new relationships. We couldn’t do it without them.
What We Do
We design buildings. And we get things built.
We started almost 25 years ago in this place we love, designing thoughtful, high-quality buildings grounded in sustainability. Our focus was largely on single-family homes and local timeshares. Now, just as our mountain resort town has grown, so have we. We have since proudly taken on opportunities to design larger upscale residences, municipal and recreational facilities, affordable housing complexes, commercial restaurants, mixed-use spaces, and major resort hospitality developments throughout Summit County, the Denver metro area, and afar – all with only a very small, diverse, dedicated team of architects and interior designers that cares about how our designs shape the trajectory of each place.
Moreover, we have loved this parallel process of growth and change with our town. Broadening what we do means we aren’t limited to one specialization, keeping our business fresh, flexible, and creative. Our growth, too, has supported the expanding development needs within our community. The bulk of our work over the last two decades was in designing the multi-family and commercial hospitality lodges around the base of the ski resort in Breckenridge, allowing us a distinct, personal chance to elevate the experience of recreating, staying, and dining right here in our hometown. Now, as development nears build out capacity at the base of Peak 8, we’re focusing on residential architecture and interiors, recreational facilities, and commercial designs for local restaurants. In addition to our private residential clients, we are currently working on projects with Copper Mountain Resort, the Frisco Marina and Peninsula Recreation Area, the Breckenridge Ice Rink, and smaller developers around the County. And even though we have grown our scope of work alongside the town, remaining small allows us to give individualized attention to each client and have a greater stake in each of these spaces we create.
Again, we design buildings and get things built. We are a small full-service architectural and interior design firm that cares about our towns and communities, only now we have the demonstrated capacity to take on a wider range of projects with a more refined set of skills. We still hustle and get things done – over the years, we’ve developed an integrated design platform that propels us to understand client goals and work efficiently with all contractors, consultants, and municipalities from the outset of the project. We thrive on further helping clients through the confusing processes of master planning, entitlements, permitting, and construction. Most importantly, our designs are still thoughtful and high-quality and sustainable, built on doing honest work for people in a place we love.
Oh, and we also might take you skiing or on a boat in Lake Dillon for client meetings.
Why We Do What We Do
Welcome to our blog! Since this is our first post, we think it’s fitting to tell you a little about us and why we do what we do. Before we can answer the why though, let’s talk about what we do. Most people know architects design buildings. Fairly simple, right? We draw pictures that at some point become construction documents that contractors eventually (hopefully) turn into a building. Pretty straightforward or so it appears from the outside. We as designers, however, like to think we take this to a deeper level. Without getting too philosophical, most of us strive to create meaningful spaces that have an impact on those who get to experience them. Equally important to this is that a space functions well. You can create something that looks cool, but if it doesn’t serve its purpose well, then we aren’t doing our job. There are building codes, structural criteria, local guidelines – so on and so forth – that provide the framework for how a building is designed, but we have to find balance between the required “science” of a building and the “art” that propels it to architecture. Merely touching the surface on architecture, this at least gives a little background on what we work towards.
So, as architects, what is it that drives us? Why do we come to work everyday? For me personally, and I think I can speak for my colleagues in this matter, it’s all about relationships. Period. We have the pleasure of working in one of the most beautiful places on earth and this attracts like-minded people who embrace that beauty. Lucky for us, some of these people become our clients and we have the opportunity to continue building on what mother nature has already begun. One of the most fulfilling parts of our job is when we get to know our clients well enough that we are able to help them realize their dreams through the built environment here in the mountains. People come to us with images or stories about experiences and we help turn those ideas into a home or project they appreciate for years to come. Above any money or award, when a client expresses appreciation for what we help them achieve, we rest easy with those words of gratitude we get to take home. Whether it’s the relationship we are able to grow with a client or those that come out of experiences through work we generate, this brings us satisfaction of a job well done.
At the end of the day, we are constantly building relationships that matter with clients, contractors, and our community and that’s why we practice architecture here in Breckenridge. And we love the work-life balance our own work affords us. The joy that comes from riding your bike through the trees on a blue bird day or the excitement of watching your child scream down their first black run – these are just great things we get to piggy back in our line of work in the mountains. Don’t get me wrong – we love to design and create works of art – but it’s when our projects have a positive impact on the lives of people and places around us that we feel good about the work we do.