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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Grant, AIA


In Denver we are surrounded by incredibly dynamic views from all vantage points. From languid plains to the sparkling metropolis, rugged mountains and beyond, these views call to us. Colorado mountain ranges are a sight to behold and that is one reason that Colorado has such a robust draw for the tourist throng. Our local context provides a cornucopia of opportunity for capturing views which then articulate the best spaces: a magnificent design latitude.

What do views tell us? Some would say that they whisper of human ingenuity, the world that we collectively have built and the possibility that it contains. We become immersed in the context and it reminds us of human history and metamorphosis. The vistas speak of humanity as a species, the challenges that we have bested, and what we can become.

I love to look at metropolitan views, noting the juxtaposition of old and new. A tapestry of human history knitted together through an intertwining of the natural and urban forms, aged and modern.

“Architects have to dream. We have to search for our Atlantises, to be explorers, adventurers, and yet to build responsibly and well.”
~Renzo Piano

We should not only be concerned with the views OF our buildings, but also the views that our buildings frame, and the conceptualizations that emerge from being immersed in these views, the spaces that they color, and the thoughts that they evoke.

We are the patrons of our experience. Our buildings, thoughtfully constructed, should facilitate a lush and robust experience that is informed by both the materialization of the space as well as nexus between the inside and outside. The best buildings celebrate direct connections to the natural environments and simultaneously signal the luxury of human protection through the built form.

During the design process, the availability of views around the site is one of the very first considerations that an architect engages in. How can we site the building and its program onto a piece of earth in such a manner as to provide the most elevated spaces within the building with the most majestic views. This effort occurs during project design of all scales, from the humblest workshop to the tallest tower.

Louis Kahn, an American modernist architect masterfully accomplishes the framed view in his Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a facility of scientific research perched on a promontory in La Jolla, CA. He organizes the two main halls around a plaza that seems to stretch to the limits of perception. His trenched water feature drilling through the center of the plaza creates a forced perspective culminating at the intersection of sea and sky. Rather than just placing the window at the best view, he is using the building forms to entice those within the space to look up, look out, see the natural beauty and feel the grandeur of the horizon.

We create buildings to exist within, and the buildings form a synthesis with natural and urban contexts creating cohesion between the personal setting and the greater shared environments. This synthesis highlights the contrast between the ruggedness of nature and the protection of the constructed habitat, and facilitates an harmonious coexistence between the two.

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