Roth Sheppard, a Denver firm established by Herbert Roth, FAIA, and Jeffrey Sheppard, AIA, in 1983, wanted a more accessible downtown location. Its new office in a LoDo warehouse building built in the 1880s served that purpose, as well as a bigger opportunity: to rethink how its own interior supports the firm’s creativity.
The 14-person firm, winner of the AIA Firm of the Year awards from both AIA Denver and AIA Colorado in 2010, is known for its elegant and functional public safety architecture, as well as restaurant, retail, and entertainment buildings. Roth Sheppard has designed its office on the ground floor of the solid masonry Wazee Exchange building with a modern, minimalist palette. Using the building’s original Douglas-fir timber frame as a structural armature, white 20-foot-tall sheer fabric demarcates the entry from the central space, as well as divides the workstations along the outer walls from the rest of the space (top, right). Further defining the central core, the translucent fabric highlights the height of the room, adds an ethereal effect, and permits filtered light from one side to another.
That lofty, cathedral-like core serves multiple purposes for both the firm’s work and for public display. The firm has named the space the Temenos Gallery after the Greek word, which originally referred to a “sacred space within which magical things are free to occur.” A 50-foot-long, custom-made Corian work table in this central core, with pendant lights by George Kovacs above, allows for collaboration, meetings, layouts, and display. In addition to use by the firm for work, the table has been used for exhibitions. In just the last year, the firm has welcomed the public with two receptions and architectural exhibitions in its space.
Surrounding the table, cubic stools made of pine provide casual seating for spontaneous office gatherings. The overall juxtaposition of old and new is intentionally expressed throughout the space with Herman Miller workstations, linear patterned carpet tile, a modern Corian reception desk (top, center), and a 16-foot-long leather bench that converts into two 8-foot seating units near the entry.
In designing the gathering space to be central and prominent in its office, Roth Sheppard thoughtfully considered the long-term implications for what the designer’s office will be. In a statement, the firm noted: “In the broadest sense, this malleable, experimental space is designed to evolve and respond to the ongoing shifts brought on by new generations, as well as changing public perceptions and expectations of the profession itself.”
Roth Sheppard Architects office. Architect Roth Sheppard Architects. Where Denver. What 4,757 total square feet on one floor. Cost/sf $64.