Since launching his firm in 1981, architect Charles Cunniffe and his team have completed a variety of projects around the world, from custom homes to a LEED Gold- and WELL-certified police station to affordable housing projects in Telluride, Snowmass and Aspen, where Charles Cunniffe Architects is based.
What’s the common thread? “Clients who are interested in sustainability and legacy in terms of building something properly the first time,” Cunniffe says. “A lot of projects look great in photographs, but the difference is in the details–the way the light comes through, the connection to the outdoors, and the spirit of place a building evokes when you’re actually in it. Any project that brings those things into play is what we gravitate to.”
Here, the architect shares three Colorado buildings that meet those high standards.
“As you come into Aspen, you’ll notice this chapel’s beautiful stone steeple. The building, which was designed by architect George Edward Heneghan, Jr., is so well placed; it sets a tone of peace and spirituality for the community. It’s not overstated–the materials are stone and wood–but it is very well proportioned and unique in its spiritual expression in the context of Aspen, where the essence of spirituality is in the environment. It’s just something that strikes you and makes you reflect on where you are and why.”
“No matter how long I live here and explore the environs around Aspen, going to the Meadows campus (home to the Aspen Institute) will always be a unique experience. In the 1950s the founder, Walter Paepcke, brought in Herbert Bayer, a Bauhaus architect, to design a series of buildings here. It led to the blossoming of midcentury modern work in Aspen–and is exemplary of really well-executed and honest architecture. The grounds are quite sculptural and create a sense of place that is uniquely captivating. If you look at the resort’s Anderson Park from the sky, it’s another Herbert Bayer work of art.”
“To me, this is not only a significant building at the state level, but one of the more remarkable capitol buildings in the country. It was amazing architecture in its day and quite evolved in terms of the technology that was available at the time, from the size of the dome plated in real gold (shown), to the spire, to all the back-of-house functions. It was also the first state capitol building to be LEED certified, and I think it’s really interesting to have a capitol building that represents sustainable values.”