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Get to Know: Brad Tomecek

The award-winning Boulder, Colorado, architect talks about modern design and the future of his craft



Each year, the American Institute of Architects recognizes a small group of professionals with its Young Architects Award. In 2012, Brad Tomecek of Studio H:T in Boulder, Colorado, was among the elite few. Here, the architect talks about modern design and the future of his craft.

What first drew you to the work of creating buildings? I’ve always been inclined to put things together. My dad was a general contractor and built a few homes in our neighborhood, so I would spend afternoons on-site with him and the sub-contractors, just hanging out.

Define “modern architecture” in your own words. I don’t see it as a style that can be applied. Modern architecture, for me, is situationally responsive: It’s always about the clients, how to respond appropriately to their needs, and how to block out undesirable aspects of the site. Constraints are good.

Is less always more, then? Some buildings are so stark and done so poorly that “modern” can get a bad name for being cheap. But making design clean means you have to pay more attention to detail; it drives up the cost. Less is more, but less can also be more expensive.

How can architecture be more sustainable? We need to pay more attention to designing with passive strategies in mind, like appropriate solar orientation. Our homes need to be as efficient as possible, designed for their place, and well daylit.

Let’s pretend we could fast-forward 10 years to 2022. What would you hope to see? I would like to see the concept of mass customization successfully realized, which would allow people to customize their own homes, understand total cost and realize the built product in a matter of weeks, not months. It would be like shopping for a Mini Cooper car online, where you can select and change features, push a button and be emailed the total cost. The challenge with today’s prefab structures is that choices have been limited. As a result, more people are looking at holistic systems that make custom options available to the masses.

What does the Young Architects Award mean to you? I’m extremely humbled and grateful to be recognized by a national jury of my peers. My hope is that Studio H:T’s work inspires and challenges the status quo in our industry, and this award validates our approach. I don’t think we’ve accepted traditional standards. We believe in a process and a system that really reduces elements down to their essence.

If you weren’t an architect, what would you be? I would probably be a pilot. I have always found flying to be liberating, and it allows me to see patterns of living from a different perspective.

6 Things Brad Tomecek Can't Live Without

iPHONE “The phone itself is really just the interface. The joy is having everything in one place: being able to email photos to clients or use the compass to take our bearings during a site visit.”

THE WEEK “It’s a magazine that documents what’s happened every day in the world for the past week. It doesn’t create any new information, it just shares perspectives from different sources.”

INTERNET “Going back to phone books and encyclopedias is my idea of pure hell. I remember when, once a year, someone would come by selling an encyclopedia upgrade. The information was finite.”

BOOKS “Right now I’m reading the Steve Jobs biography and a monograph by Joseph Eichler. Jobs was a control freak, and Eichler refined products down to the very last nut and bolt. To read them at the same time is fascinating.”

A SENSE OF HUMOR “Life can create some pretty preposterous moments. If you don’t have a sense of humor, it can take you down pretty fast.”

FAMILY “No matter how much we rush around in our own little worlds, family keeps everything in perspective for me. There’s nothing like being with a five-year-old who just wants to play and draw and run around.”

Studio H:T Architecture, 303-247-0405, studioht.com

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