2020 Circle of Excellence: Architect Brandt Vanderbosch
Vertical Arts Architecture, Steamboat Springs
Brandt Vanderbosch has been drawing and running around in his own worlds since his Michigan childhood. It was there he grew up tagging along after his grandfather at the family’s 21-acre resort on Christiana Lake. “I got to create my own environments in the woods surrounding the lodge—building forts, playing war.”
He eventually became so adept at drafting that a high school teacher even created a class just for him, in which he got to build models. “Then, when I was 15, I started framing houses. Working under a carpenter, I actually framed and roofed a simple house on the property for my mom.”
After earning degrees in architectural technology and construction management, he went on to gain bachelor’s degrees in environmental design and architecture at Ball State University in Indiana.
Vanderbosch moved to Colorado at 27, first working in Vail before heading to Steamboat. “I was always drawn to places with interesting topography and environments, so early on, it was in my head to go out West.”
In 2005, he founded Vertical Arts, which now has 12 employees, including architects, landscape architects and interior designers. (“We wanted to have it all in-house,” he says. “It just makes for a better project.”) Though the firm does a lot of custom residential work, its portfolio also includes affordable housing, condo buildings, mixed- use buildings, boutique-style restaurants, commercial buildings and land planning. It also has a retail shop and a custom furniture fabrication shop that makes everything from furniture to shelving to hoods.
Despite the firm’s size and breadth of work, Vanderbosch still keeps his own pencil sharp. “I do a lot of hands-on design. Maybe I’m not drawing everything out, but I’m working with a team and giving them direction. The goal is to make the best architecture we can, projects that are creative and environmental and special.”
WEAVING THE STORY “I like the storytelling aspect of projects, working with the environment and bringing it all together with multiple disciplines. We go through an envisioning process— asking questions and really being informed on what a client wants. We work with them to fill out a 50-page questionnaire we’ve developed over the years that helps us gain insight into their thoughts about each space on a property. It helps bring them together to talk about things, and most clients really engage with it. The process allows us to get to know our clients really well. Whether we are having wine with them or just hanging out, we end up becoming part of their life for…well, it could be four or five years.”
VISION DRIVEN “A lot of clients bring things to the table. At some point we have to start organizing everything into a program and do a site analysis. Where do they love to be on the site? On the front of one of our envisioning packets, I have a picture of a client with his hands out, basically showing, ‘This is the view I want.’ He and his wife had a little spot on top of a hill where they drank wine. Before they even built anything, they had a little bench up there with a fire pit, and they said, ‘We want to be right here.’”
THERE IS NO ‘I’ IN TEAM “I once read a book called EMyth. It talks about how in every business you really need to have an entrepreneur, a manager and a technician. One person cannot be all three. That has helped me build this firm. We have a very good technician and architect, I hired a great office manager, and I knew that I could work on design and sales and overall run the firm. The people around me are really good at the things I am not as good at; they complement my strengths. That’s why it’s Vertical Arts, not Vanderbosch Architects; it’s about the team and what they can bring to the table.”