2016 Circle of Excellence: Architect Brad Tomecek

Our Circle of Excellence awards pay tribute to five pioneering professionals who have paved the way for Colorado's design evolution. This year's recipients continue to enhance their legacy in our local landscape. Here, meet: BRAD TOMECEK, Owner, Tomecek Studio Architecture, Denver

Portrait by Jennifer Olson

And to think it all began with Legos. Brad Tomecek, who started creating mini structures in childhood and went on to study design and architecture at the University of Florida before moving to Colorado, builds one-of-a-kind residences (including prefab, container, and sustainable buildings) all over the inner-mountain West, and from Ohio to California. “What I have appreciated about Brad is his undeniable love of architecture—that fuels his passion for everything he does,” says Boulder architect David Barrett, Tomecek’s former boss and one of last year’s Circle of Excellence recipients. “I don’t see that flame growing dimmer with time, rather I expect it to grow in it’s brilliance.” Tomecek, this year the vice president of AIA Denver (he’s president next year), might best be described as a “bespoke architect.” Why? Because good design, he says, “is like having a suit made—we try to tailor solutions to our clients.”

Buildings as art: “When firms specialize in one or two things, projects can start to look the same. For us, it’s about the artistry of building: How do we create something unique for our clients each time? We had one client in Denver who was a Bonsai pruner—he would be up at 2 in the morning with his tweezers pruning his plants—and that informed the whole design process. We were working on a small urban lot, so we designed a very simple, clean box that echoed what we interpreted as bonsai.”

Learning Pavillion, University of Colorado CAP Design Build Program [Photo: Nathan Jenkins for University of Colorado Denver]

Solar-powered: “In Colorado, you always have to be cognizant of the sun because of how it can swing a home’s comfort level. So we ask ourselves: How do we bring that into a space, how do we protect against it, because it can be incredibly harsh here. It’s important that we understand our climates, because more and more clients love those in-between living spaces outside that can expand a house three or four seasons a year.”

New frontiers: “Denver, in my mind, never had a very rooted architectural vernacular the way some cities do, so it’s always been very open to new, different architectural ideas. I like to think of it as a frontier mentality: The people who come out here have always had a sense of exploration—they’re creative and adventurous.”

Shield house, Denver [Photo: Raul Garcia for Studio H:T]

What gives design staying power: “That’s a hard nut to crack, but it’s about doing something creative and unique in a timeless manner, whether through the sequence of spaces or through materials that are of this place and time but also hearken back to the indigenous nature of Colorado.”

Favorite material: “At our firm, we see light as a material. People might say, well, I can’t touch it and I can’t see it. But light has physical properties all its own, and it’s important to understand how light changes throughout the course of a day, how it affects surfaces and textures—it’s a material we all live with every day.”

Form vs. function: “Form is born out of function. Design has to function, but sometimes the function of something can expose the human body to a different experience—our quality of life can be elevated by what we live or work in. A good example is the Air Force Academy chapel in Colorado Springs. It’s amazing because when you walk through it you feel the light coming down through the folds of metal and you hear the pings as the metal contracts and expands in the sun—the whole experience is empowering and uplifting.”


Categories: Stylemakers