A different perspective

Growing firm brings fresh look to classic ski town architecture


Sometimes, it is necessary to pat yourself on the back.

Vertical Arts employees are doing just that as they continue work on downtown developments and step back to admire the work that has been completed since the architecture firm formed in December 2004.

Since then, Brandt Vanderbosch's firm has doubled in sized to five full-time employees and two consultants. The firm is designing Jim Cook's Riverwalk development along the Yampa River in addition to Paul Franklin's multi-use development at Fifth and Yampa streets. The firm also is designing and building about 10 custom homes.

Vertical Arts designers transformed an old, run-down house along the Yampa into a contemporary sales center for Cook's downtown developments.

In May, Vertical Arts received an American Institute of Architects award for the work the firm did on the preview center for Wildhorse Meadows off Mount Werner Road.

"It's not our award only," Vanderbosch said. "It's also the clients who are visionary.

"We're very proud of it, and that after a year and a half we received such an honor."

Dramatic moveable display panels hang from the ceiling, showing the concept for the Wildhorse development.

Raw steel was fabricated to imitate the ski lift and railroad features in Steamboat Springs.

"We like to put a spin on the architecture that you find geographically here," Vanderbosch said. "It's contemporary design formed by the past. It's timeless, but it's innovative and new."

Vanderbosch, 35, started Vertical Arts after working in Vail and then at a Steamboat architecture firm since 1997.

Vanderbosch said he was eager to build his own team to offer a complete design and planning product.

The team works out of a modest office on the second floor of a building at 929 Lincoln Ave.

"The reason that I'm here as a part of this is that I'm able to use the innovation and creativity that got me excited about architecture in college," said Vertical Arts architect Travis Mathey. "There are not a lot of firms that let you do that."

So far, most of their business has been coming from referrals from past clients.

"It has been a lot of word of mouth based on a small town and word gets around when good things are happening," said Jamie Jones, Vertical Arts business manager.

Clients are excited about the creative and innovative design that the firm of young architects is bringing to Steamboat.

"They have a team approach," Franklin said. "Everyone is involved in all of the process."

He said they are passionate about their work.

"They care so much about it and us new clients are the benefactors of that," Franklin said.

Wildhorse developer Brent Pearson told Vertical Arts architects he was looking for a combination of both old and new Steamboat features to be reflected in the Wildhorse development.

"They came back with unique concepts," Pearson said. "We really enjoyed having these guys do work for us."

Pearson was impressed enough that he is having Vertical Arts design his new home.

Vanderbosch said the Riverwalk project is an exciting opportunity for the firm because it is an urban setting with open spaces to help bridge downtown to the Yampa.

"The architecture has to be great, but it's really the site planning that is going to make it special," Vanderbosch said. "I think it's really going to invigorate downtown."

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com


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