History as a Catalyst for Urban Change – Denver’s Union Station

This week we feature another new blog writer for the AIA Colorado EP Blog. Drew grew up in San Diego, CA and graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s of Architecture in 2012.

While at Arizona, Drew served as a member of that chapter’s AIAS board as Vice President and President, as well as on two national AIAS boards and the Southern Arizona AIA Board of Directors.

Shortly after graduation, he moved to Denver and worked in a number of small architectural offices before taking an intern architect position at BURKETTDESIGN for over a year. Recently he has moved on to a new position at Humphries Poli Architects in Denver and is in the process of pursuing licensure.



History as a Catalyst for Urban Change – Denver’s Union Station

On July 26, 2014, the grand re-opening of the historic Union Station will

Denver Union Stationcommence in the Lower Downtown (LoDo) neighborhood of Denver. This will mark the end (or rather a major milestone) in the completion of a district re-defining project that cost over $50 million and spanned the better part of a decade. In addition to the restoration of the 100 year old central terminal, the project encompasses the building of a large train depot that will serve Amtrak and light rail lines, a massive underground bus terminal, several office buildings, high rise residential towers, public/green spaces, an independent hotel, and a wide array of restaurants and retail outlets.


(for more information regarding the grand opening events this weekend, please follow this link: http://www.westword.com/events/union-station-grand-opening-2928185?utm_source=Newsletters&utm_medium=email )

This date will serve as a major milestone since it is the official opening of the central terminal, which will serve as the focal point of the transportation, restaurant and retail experience of the project. That being said, several residential towers/complexes are en route to completion and the finalization of the light rail lines to serve northern routes, and most importantly for many Denver residents and visitors, a light rail line to Denver International Airport.

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Many people will look at a project of this scale and immediately begin to try to predict the revitalization effects that it will have on the city. It has been seen many times before from the Guggenheim in Bilbao to Petco Park in San Diego. However, the aspect of these types of projects that often makes them successful is the programmatic variety that is incorporated from the beginning or comes about as a result of said projects. Union Station has the possibility to be incredibly successful because of the broad spectrum of program that can be found across the project area. By activating the site nearly 24 hours a day, through residences, commuters at rush hour, the office lunch crowd at restaurants, the group going out for a posh dinner and drinks, or just your everyday office workers, Union Station has the possibility of maintaining an eclectic mix of users throughout the day, which is vital for a lively urban environment.


This can be contrasted with a project here in Denver that many will argue has had limited success to invigorate the city or it’s people: Skyline Park. This urban park stretches from 18th to 16th along Arapahoe and, instead of being another park here in Denver that is beloved and heavily used by residents, it generally sits empty or acts as a campground for the homeless. Skyline Park shows that a strip of grass with some trees will not work as a catalyst for urban recharge if there are no programmatic elements that come with it. The old adage of “if you build it, they will come”, no longer applies. Rather, the saying should be: “if you build it and give them a reason to, they will come”.


Union Station already seems to be on the cusp of success. Many of the restaurants have already opened and are experiencing large crowds as office workers populate the area in search of nearby business lunches or happy hours and at night when Denver residents venture out to find the next “can’t be missed” restaurant. The bus and light rail terminals experience a steady stream of people coming or going from downtown during the rush hours. All of these people will also be co-mingling with guests of the Crawford Hotel (located within the historic terminal) and the residents surrounding the station in the near future, adding to the dynamic of the area that has experienced so much growth and success in recent years with the building of Coors Field down the street.


It is clearly too early to judge the success or failure of such a massive undertaking. There are always possible pitfalls: restaurants could go under, residences could remain empty, plazas may be vacant wastelands, people could abandon their desires and need of mass transit, etc. Some of these are more far-fetched than others, but the fact remains that such a large scale project is not without risk. The pieces are in place for Denver’s Union Station to be an exemplary model for urban revitalization centered around mass transit, the only question that remains is whether or not people will seize the opportunity to help push it across the finish line.

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Constricting the Bounds of Originality – Separating the Protectable from the Unprotected in Architectural Works

One month ago we put out a call for Emerging Professionals who wanted to join our blogging team. We received quite a few responses and have begun the process to include new voices into our AIA CO EP Blog. As we discussed the future of the blog, we looked to voices that would shed light on diverse issues and questions about architecture and the profession, as well as varying personal backgrounds and differing experience within the professional environment. Over the next few weeks you will see new names introduced below. As we finalize our new team, we will provide them with their own usernames and work them into the regular schedule. We hope to create consistency and regularity in voices, but will also be supplementing those voices with guest bloggers.

Our first new blogger is Casey A. Quillen. Casey Quillen is a founding member of Ruebel & Quillen, LLC.  For more than a decade, she has represented Colorado design professionals as defense counsel for errors and omissions claims litigation, coverage counsel, corporate counsel, and as a business advisor. Casey is a professional affiliate member of the AIA. Her first article looks at the protected and unprotected elements within architectural design. Personally, I have rarely studied or read about copyright law within the realm of architecture – or any copyright law for that matter. Casey brings in interesting perspective as someone who represents architects. She breaks down the idea of copyright law and what can or cannot be protected under copyright law.



Constricting the Bounds of Originality – Separating the Protectable from the Unprotected in Architectural Works

Casey A. Quillen


Some architectural designs, like that of a single-room log cabin, will consist solely of standard features arranged in standard ways; others, like the Guggenheim, will include standard features, but also present something entirely new.  ArchitecGuggenheimture, in this regard, is like every art form.

Zalewski v. Cicero Builder Dev., Inc., 2014 WL 2521388 (2d Cir. June 5, 2014).  Architectural design within well-recognized scènes-à-faire such as neoclassical government buildings, colonial houses, and modern high-rise office buildings may be more difficult to protect under federal copyright law due to the conventional restrictions of the form according to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

In Zalewski v. Cicero Builder Dev., Inc., self-employed architect James Zalewski granted defendant builders licenses to use several colonial home designs he had created.  According to plaintiff Zalewski, after the license expired the builders retained another design firm to customize the home designs which the builders continued marketing without consent.  The architect asserted that the defendants had copied the overall size, shape, and silhouette of his designs as well as the placement of rooms, windows, doors, closets, stairs, and other architectural features.[1]  On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit considered the trial court’s ruling on summary judgment to determine whether those elements copied from Zalewski’s original design were protectable under copyright law.  Ultimately, the Second Circuit determined that builders copied only the unprotected elements of Zalewski’s design.  The Court compared the conventions of designing a colonial-style home to the use of iambic pentameter or folk motifs in literary works:

[T]he designs’ shared footprint and general layout are in keeping with the colonial         style.  There are only so many ways to arrange four bedrooms upstairs and a kitchen, dining room, living room, and study downstairs.  Beyond these similarities, Plaintiff’s and Defendants’ layouts are different in many ways.  The exact placement and sizes of doors, closets, and countertops often differ as do the arrangements of rooms.

Id.  The Court also noted certain design features used by all architects because of consumer demand or market expectations should not receive protection.

Federal Copyright protection for architectural works is relatively new having been formally added to the list of protectable material in 1990.  We should not be surprised to see Colorado State and Federal Courts apply similar reasoning when issues of architectural copyright arise.  A design professional facing copyright infringement would do well to head the admonition by the Second Circuit and strive to “distinguish those aspects of his designs that were original to him from those dictated by the form in which he worked”, so that he may prevail on his claims.



[1] Zalewski also asserted a cause of action under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) which prohibits intentionally removing or altering any copyright management information. 17 U.S.C. §1202(b)

AIA Colorado’s Program Evaluation Committee

The following post is from a guest writer and AIA member, Steve Greco. Steve has spent the past year on the Program Evaluation Committee and provides some insight on why the committee exists and how it serves to inform the future of AIA programs in Colorado.


This past winter, I was able to have the unique experience of participating on the AIA Programs Evaluation Committee.   What’s that you say? I was saying the same thing to myself after I had signed-up.

The Programs Evaluation Committee is a 6 person task-force established to evaluate existing AIA Colorado programs. Fun Fact – Did you know in 2013 there were over 200 programs sponsored by AIA Colorado?   This fun fact was also the root cause in the formation of our committee, as it was decided that 200 programs is a bit too many to effectively promote and facilitate.

Our charge was simple. Decide which programs were working, which ones needed improvement and which ones maybe we could live without. In all honesty this was no simple task. In fact in was a little bit of a brutal approach.

Early on, OAK, no not the tree, became the key criteria we would use to evaluate the programs. Outreach, Advocacy and Knowledge. These are the focus areas AIA wants to promote for the profession. Once we understood the AIA’s mission, creating a scoring matrix was our next challenge.

With OAK as our guiding principal, next we tried to create the least subjective scoring matrix possible.  Again, no easy task. Although this might be truly impossible, in my opinion we successfully created a scoring system that would allow us to defend some of the tough decisions we later had to make.

After the scoring matrix was created, the fun part was next: grading all 200 programs! This took us several sessions to complete. Finally, after 4-months of intense meetings, we summarized our findings into formal recommendations.

After our recommendation had been made, it was time to turn over the decision making to the local chapter boards. I can only speak for the Denver Chapter, but so far it sounds like the recommendations have been well received. Two of our most controversial recommendations were to consolidate the individual chapter Design Award Gala’s into one big state-wide event and to suspend Architecture Week events this past April. While these may not be popular among all members, our group felt like they were the right decisions in the long run.   Our philosophy was simple, be willing to test new ideas.   If they work, great, if not we can always revert back or try something else different.

Personally, I tremendously enjoyed my experience serving on the Programs Elevation Committee.  Getting a behind the scenes look at how the AIA Colorado functions when looking at the entire calendar year is truly impressive. I would like to thank my fellow committee members for creating an enjoyable experience on a committee tasked with a difficult assignment.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that having an open-mind is key. In a progressive profession like architecture, we are trained to think critically. I believe this a habit not only important in our day-to -day activities, but maybe even more so when evaluating programs we put forward in the community to promote our profession.

Architect Barbie, and Other Important Advancements in Architectural Practice

2-0011I recently stumbled across an article titled, “ Building on the Past; A History of Women in Architecture,” by SUNY Buffalo Architectural History Professor and PhD, Despina Stratigakos. In her account of women’s advancements in the field of architecture, she begins the article by recounting Architect Barbie’s debut at the 2011 AIA Convention in New Orleans.  Flanked by booths of materials, technology, and a polarizing ratio of 78% male conference attendees, the pink-and-white Mattel booth was both an anomaly and bright spot on the convention floor.  Serving as an educational area to introduce concepts of architectural design to young women (and by young, I mean as early as 5 or 6 years old,) this booth provided clever programming as a means of possibly diversifying the profession’s current gender disparity.

Three years later to the day (the 2014 AIA National Convention is happening right now in Chicago–a city that is an architectural masterpiece in its own right), Architect Barbie seems to be a mere foreshadowing of an undeniably exciting time for women architects.

One only needs to look at Jeanne Gang’s “Aqua Tower,” the leadership of the AIA’s 90th President, Helene Combs Dreiling, or take note of the 2014 AIA Gold Medal Award given to Julia Morgan (only sixty years after her death!) to see that women are gaining recognition, dynamic commissions, and interesting leadership positions, all the while transcending any makeshift glass ceilings that may have previously existed.

Furthermore, current data reinforces women’s growth both in numbers and leadership within the profession of architecture. This past May, the Architect’s Journal reported an increase in the proportion of women to men in top practices in from 22.7 to 27.5%.

As a young woman in architecture, I find this information to be exciting for a few reasons:

(1) This may mean that many architecture firms are and will continue to become more balanced in terms of women and men leaders/mentors for the next generation of architects,

(2) Architecture’s former reputation as an “old boys’ club” may be lifting to build a more balanced workplace,

(3) Women who have been practicing will hopefully continue to receive the recognition they deserve. An example would be a designer such as Charlotte Perriand, whose genius was cloaked by male counterparts like Corbusier until only recently.

(4) The sky might just be the limit for what type of work and opportunities my female co-workers, friends, and former classmates might want to pursue in the future within and outside the boundaries of our profession.

While there is no race to be won or any concrete, gender-balanced targets for architecture offices to meet (I still believe an office must be comprised of the best talent, and how this shakes out gender-wise is subjective,) I hope to convey this information only to share the message that for women who in early stages of practicing architecture, there will likely be more women with shared experiences to guide them in partnership with male counterparts.

While 27.5% is not a staggering number, interesting statistics such as Stratigakos’ mention that in 1900 there were 39 licensed women architects, and today, 30,000 makes me feel thankful for being born in the 1980’s as opposed to the 1880’s..

What a difference a century makes!


For more information, I highly recommend a read through Stratigakos’ article.

And please note: This article does not aim to touch upon the challenges of motherhood, the Lean In phenomenon, etc.  Another discussion for another time!  Just looking at the rise of women in the profession from a global perspective!

An EP’s Guide to Chicago

As a new Assoc. AIA member this year, not only did I receive free membership for 12 months, but also I received free registration for the AIA Convention 2014 in Chicago, IL. Having grown up in Illinois, Chicago has always had a special hold on me.  If the sheer magnitude of great and historic architecture isn’t enough, the variety of restaurants, coffee shops and bars should definitely convince you. With the Convention less than a week away, I wanted to provide some suggestions for all of the EPs out there heading to Chicago for the first time or a return trip. With the help of some local Chicagoans, I’ve developed a list of some hidden (and not so hidden) treasures when visiting the Windy City. (See here for the actual explanation of why Chicago was named the Windy City.)

To start you off with some food selections, I turn to my good friend who is always on top of the food trends in Chicago, Julie Gillespie for a meal-by-meal list:


Start with grabbing coffee at Intelligentsia (there is a downtown location on Randolph and Wabash. It started in Chicago and is a great way to try something different while getting your morning caffeine fix. Great for coffee enthusiasts!


The Purple Pig: From the guys who brought you the classic Heaven on Seven…more than just pork! **Pro tip: actually a great destination for vegetarians with a large seasonal menu. Arrive between 11:30-12 to beat the crowds.

Travelle: Part of the Langham Hotel located in Mies van der Rohe’s IBM building this modern Mediterranean dining room has amazing views of Chicago’s riverfront, including Marina Towers!


Green Street Smoked Meats: Tucked away in a warehouse turned Texas cantina in Chicago’s restaurant haven, the West Loop. The meats are delicious; the atmosphere is happening and casual. Should not be missed!

 Nico Osteria: In the new boutique Thompson Hotel, this upscale cocktail lounge and restaurant serves traditional Italian seafood. Small menu for the adventurous eater. Great cocktails!


Three Dots and a Dash: A not so secret speakeasy-style tiki bar with $13 drinks that are actually worth the expense! **Pro tip: Make a reservation! Or get there before 5 pm to beat the after work crowd. Really picks up after 7!

Howells & Hood: On the ground level of the Tribune Tower. Simple as that.


I also reached out to fellow AIAS and Midwest Quad Director, Ryan Gann for some suggestions on some affordable (even FREE!) architectural site-seeing options that may not be on the typical list:

Studio Gang, Northerly Island: Northerly Island is currently undergoing construction to become the city’s next urban oasis. While completion is not due for another year, the nearby 12th street beach and serene trails are a preview of what is to come. Here is the Northerly Island framework.

Credit to Studio Gang Architects for image

Credit to Studio Gang Architects for image

Studio Gang, WMS Boathouse: Another great Studio Gang project is the recently completed WMS Boathouse @ Clark Park. Part of an initiative to re-populate the river with recreation, the building is an evocative beginning to a cultural shift of ecological appreciation.

A visit to the IIT campus is a must.

John Ronan, Poetry Foundation: John Ronan’s poetry foundation is a beautifully detailed building providing tranquility steps from the bustling Michigan Avenue.

Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, Chicago Cultural Center: Check out the Chicago Cultural Center in all its grand beauty, which includes one of the largest Louis Comfort Tiffany glass domes. The “CHGO DSNG: Recent Object and Graphic Design” exhibit is also up right now; providing a great snap shot into the graphic design community of the city.

Credit to inetours.com

Credit to inetours.com

Michael Van Valkenburgh, Maggie Daley Park: Although still under construction, the soon to be completed Maggie Daley Park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates offers a sustained stance by the City of Chicago to provide public space for its visitors and residents.

Ross Barney Architects, Chicago River Walk: A stroll along the Chicago River walk is incredibly peaceful. The newest stretch, designed by Ross Barney Architects, promises to re-invent the urban experience of the river.

If you are still looking for more sites to see, check out Arch Record’s Reveals. I will be posting updates on the blog for conference must-sees and a distilled EP session list! See you in Chicago!