Q + A
the voice of brad tomecek
For the July journal, we met with award-winning architect Brad Tomecek who is the founder of Tomecek Studio Architecture. His forward-looking studio operates at the edge of their craft, and design experiences through iconic, lasting structures that serve as a vision of sustainable forms.
The shoot aptly took place at 2311 West 32nd Avenue, Brad Tomecek’s personal abode currently listed for sale.
The widely published LEED certified home was one of the first erected from the pilot program and complements our discussion of sustainability in built environments.
What’s your story?
I am originally from the east coast and called Florida home. Shortly after I finished graduate school, I found myself looking for a change in culture and scenery. The Front Range was the complete opposite of my upbringing. Seasons, snow, climbing, hiking and camping all called me to the West. People seemed more open to ideas and less worried about style. I worked for a firm in Boulder for approximately two years and then co-founded a design studio.
What drove you to create Tomecek Studio Architecture?
Tomecek Studio evolved out of that previous ten-year partnership. The focus became about the individuality of our clients and their unique sites. We are passionate about the co-creation of something so personal that can elevate our clients’ quality of life.
You recently were honored with the AIA National Young Architect Award, what do you attribute to this recognition?
Curiosity and exploration. I have always enjoyed exploring ‘How’ we build and ‘Why’ we build. Finding the core concepts and ideas of a project is paramount in our process. I contribute this approach to my own education, and I keep fresh by teaching a design studio at the University of Colorado’s College of Architecture and Planning. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have clients who encourage our creativity and vision.
What’s your vision for the future of eco-conscious architecture?
Ultimate awareness. Over the years, there have been many attempts to regulate or systematize a process to require buildings to be sustainable. These attempts certainly bring awareness to the field of construction; however, the solution is never one-size fits all. I still believe the basics provide most of the return on investment. These include solar orientation, passive heating, passive cooling and insulation values—to name a few. Certainly, local renewable resources and energy efficient fixtures play into this equation. I see supplementing projects with active systems like photovoltaics to achieve rigorous energy goals that cannot be achieved passively. Building smaller structures helps contribute to less consumption, more attention to detail and quality.
Can you recommend some ways (large-scale and small-scale) to make homes carbon-neutral?
Converting to an all-electric energy system with solar panels (to offset usage) is a great way to offset carbon if you have a well-sealed building envelope. The ROI is usually reasonable and local energy companies still have some rebates available.
Is there a project, building or home you are most proud of? Alternatively, a project highlighted by the media?
From an efficiency perspective, we designed a 450 square foot small home in Boulder up against the Mt. Sanitas open space. It was purposely small, but the owners did not skimp on luxury with a large window/door wall, garden area and resistance pool. The project barely has any energy costs. We also recently finished a moderately sized house for a pianist in east Denver with electric bills running in the $4-8 range.
In your opinion, what makes a house a home?
Full integration with the site, a diversity of options that accommodate a variety of people & functions, and our clients’ personal imprint—however, that idea manifests itself.
Define your home’s style in two words:
Bespoke + Site Specific
If you could recommend any pivotal books, podcasts, leaders, etc., what would you recommend?
Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa. This book explores how the senses, beyond vision, fill environments and space.
Finish this quote: In design, …
More specifically, we believe in the extraordinary power of design to influence our awareness and quality of life.