For more than a decade, architectural partners Sarah Broughton and John
Rowland have impressed clients from Aspen valley to national urban and mountain communities nationwide. Their formula is straightforward—they listen, collaborate and implement.
Broughton says, “John and I met our first year in college in ’93 and started dating in ’94. We both graduated with bachelor degrees in environmental design and architecture from CU and have worked together from then on.” Following graduation in 1996, Rowland received a design award that presented an opportunity to work on a consortium in Sydney, Australia contributing to the design of the 2000 Olympic Village. Broughton accompanied Rowland and worked on a separate consortium that focused on landscape design.
Following their four-month Australian endeavor, the couple moved to New York City. Broughton shares, “During college, John worked on the Stapleton redevelopment project with a New York architectural firm, Cooper Robertson, and when we finished the work in Sydney, John hired on with that firm in New York City. I worked for Kliment Halsband and we stayed in New York for three and a half years. But, it was always a goal of ours to own our own firm and work together.”
Rowland + Broughton
Now married, they moved to one of their favorite national locales—Aspen. Working with two great Aspen architectural firms—Rowland with Gibson Architects and Broughton, Harry Teague Architects—the duo cemented their architectural footprint in Colorado. “9/11 occurred during this time and these were tough economic times, but shortly thereafter, in 2003, we opened our own firm, Rowland + Broughton, (R + B)” Broughton says. They initially operated the nascent firm from their condo in Aspen before gradually moving into office space. “We worked in Aspen for a year and a half before we moved into, and opened a sec
ond location in a live work loft in downtown Denver. The first year we operated out of that Denver loft we were going back and forth weekly to Aspen,” she relates. Today the firm has two studio offices, one in the heart of Aspen and another in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood. “We have 20 employees in Aspen and 10 in Denver,” she states.
For the past decade, the R + B team of expert architects planned, designed and completed projects of varying magnitudes of difficulty and a wide range of styles. “We come into projects with a predetermined style and then through the process of assessing the project from the content, site, context, geography, people, culture and program needs, a unified style evolves,” explains Broughton. She says commonalities come down to sensibilities and there are usually strong themes that prevail either from the client’s intentions or details in the project.
“We always try to use materials that give a sense of place as well as functionality and keep the spaces warm and inviting even if the design is contemporary.” Speaking of project size, Broughton relays, “We are always trying make a clever use of space whether it is an 18,000 square foot house or an 800 square foot condo. We use a diligent and strategic use of space.”
Residential and Commercial Projects
Fun is the quintessential word to describe the functional operations of R + B. “We’re in a practice and that means we have to practice to be good; and as we progress, we get better at our craft, which is really fun for all of us,” shares Broughton. Their client base has been tremendously loyal from the inception of the company. Broughton reports, “65 percent of our clients are repeat customers. The majority of our business comes from word of mouth and we treat every job like it is our very first! We really enjoy what we do and we want our customers to feel our enthusiasm.”
Fifty percent of their current business clientele is residential and the other half is hospitality. “We love to let our clients guide us in their needs and then we bring in our expertise to collaborate with the client. We’re part of the Gen X/Gen Y generation so we still love to draw out the plans and make physical models,” she adds.
One such hospitality client wanted to redo the interior space of their tavern. They approached the R + B team and were adamant about not relocating the bar. Broughton cheerfully recalls, “There’s a delicate balance in using their ideas and wants with our knowledge and vision. So keeping in line w
ith the client we showed them a few models using the bar in the same location and one that showed their vision of moving the bar. The client could see the use of the space that way and chose to move the bar. Really, the relationship is just showing respect for each other.”
R + B is dedicated to managing and providing exceptional client services by intricately and efficiently managing and overseeing the project programming, budget, design and construction from start to finish. Throughout the decade the team of architects and their staff remain committed to their clients. “Whether it is a new build or remodel, we work closely with our clients to very consciously use sustainable, purposeful materials, while retaining the integrity of the space,” says Broughton.
Rowland + Broughton Architecture and Urban Design
1830 Blake St. #200, Denver
234 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen
Fun Facts about R+B over the last 10 years:
•140 built projects
• Honored with 32 awards
• Published in more than 25 different publications
• 65 percent of projects are repeat clients
• Largest project is a 5,000-acre ranch consisting of 70 buildings
• Smallest project is a 100-square-foot Airstream trailer
• 50 percent of their work is custom residential; 50 percent is hospitality and commercial
BIO: Kathy Smith, MA in English, is a freelance writer and editor who has been published in many local Denver magazines and was nationally published in Her Sport.