A Win-Win for Architecture Students and Firms

For aspiring architects looking to transition from school into a job with an architecture firm, there is a crucial middle step to consider – an internship. What you learn in school is important – theory, history, different disciplines, etc. – but it is all fantasy. There is no client. No budget. You may have time constraints and pressure from professors, but this is vastly different from the “real world.”

Your internship is an extension of your school work providing you with real-world experience. From completing competition entries to building models, meeting with clients and working with budgets, an internship can prepare you to confidently step in to your first professional position at an architecture firm.

Building Your Career While Building Models

Interning at an architecture firm is a rite of passage from student to professional. School is not enough to catapult you into your career. An internship can provide you with:

    • Real world experience learning the day-to-day with clients, for example, listening in on calls and how you would speak differently with a consultant vs. an owner.
    • A more forgiving environment to learn how to get things done quickly and correctly.
    • Learning what you truly enjoy or not, for example, commercial vs. residential work.
    • The opportunity to demonstrate your budding expertise to a potential employer.
    • A chance to grow your professional network.

Steven Vujeva and Mandil Inc. intern, Brian Duncan

Keeping Current and Giving Back

Students aren’t the only ones to benefit from an internship. The employer has much to gain, including:

  • An in-house guide to teach your team the latest computer programs they are learning about in school, keeping your firm current in the digital age.
  • Help with junior level tasks such as running prints and deliveries.
  • Support in maintaining office standards for drawings.
  • The opportunity to give back by furthering the student’s education through redlines and explaining why changes should be made.
  • Your next hire, already familiar with your processes and style.

At Mandil Inc., we have a paid intern program that typically runs through the school year and into the summer. In some cases, it may be shorter or some longer. Our current intern, Brian Duncan, a student at the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning, has worked at Mandil for a year and a half. His contributions have been invaluable, and we know an intern can bring your firm many benefits too.

Steven Vujeva, RA, NCARB
Mandil Inc.

About GFRC: Super Concrete on a Diet

If you can imagine it, it can probably be made out of concrete. GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete) is a type of super-strong concrete that can be made incredibly thin (compared to normal concrete) without breaking, and thin means lightweight, and lightweight means you can use concrete in places and in ways you didn’t think were possible.

To visualize the benefits of GFRC, imagine a 3’x3’x’3 cube made out of concrete. If the entire cube were made out of concrete, it would weigh about 4,050 pounds. If you were smart, you’d make it hollow, because nobody would know the difference just by looking at it or touching it. It would still feel like a block of concrete if it were hollow, and it would require less materials, and it would be easier to move around.

But if you hollow it out too much, you’d get concerned about it breaking under its own weight. You still have to pick it up and move it around and transport it. Maybe you’d feel comfortable it’s not going to ever crack/break if you got the walls down to 4” thick and filled them with steel rebar. A typical 36” precast concrete sewer pipe has a wall thickness of 4”, for reference, and we can bet if the people who engineered those thought they could safely make it thinner, they would. The cube at that thickness would weigh almost 2,000lbs. 3” thick would weigh about 1,500 lbs.

But here comes GFRC. We can make the same 3’x3’x3’ cube out of GFRC with 3/4” thick walls, no steel reinforcement required, and the weight drops to about 250 lbs. or less.  And, you and several friends can climb and stand on it without fear of it breaking. It still looks and feels like a 4,050 pound block of concrete.

What did we gain by losing so much weight? We gained the ability to put a large concrete fire pit on your client’s rooftop patio without worrying about the weight. We gained the ability to make beautiful precast countertops in controlled conditions, which can be transported and carried to the jobsite, up three sets of stairs and installed without a forklift.  We can make ½” thick concrete wall panels where wet pouring a thin concrete wall veneer would be impractical, if not impossible. We can make a giant trough sink for a bathroom that looks like its 12” thick and weighs a ton and hang it from the wall.

No matter how you look at it, the main reason to spec GFRC is the weight, or more accurately the lack thereof. Where weight or transport or appearance isn’t quite as important, normal concrete more than fits the bill, and GFRC will never replace it. GFRC has other benefits over normal concrete, the most obvious of which will be the beautiful finish, but even that is a result of the ability to easily transport it due to the light weight.

Important things to know about GFRC:

  1. It doesn’t stain. Red wine, oil, coffee, etc., are not a concern. The reactive urethane sealer used by Art District Concrete is impenetrable by liquids, and is really tough stuff. Staining is probably the biggest concern about using concrete as a countertop, and there’s a lot of information on the internet stating that concrete stains easily. And, most of the stories about concrete staining are probably true, but it’s a sure thing that none of them are using a reactive urethane sealer. Raw concrete stains very easily. Put a sealer on it that doesn’t let liquid through and it will never stain.
  2. It doesn’t need resealing or maintenance. Reactive urethane only needs to be applied once, and under normal usage you’ll never wear through it.
  3. It can scratch. This is probably the biggest flaw of concrete, at least compared to some other surface materials. You can’t cut on it. You can use it like a normal countertop without worrying about it scratching if you’re not intentionally dragging sharp objects (like knives or heavy flour pots with metal legs) across it. Simply being aware that it can scratch is really the only precaution anyone needs to take.
  4. Cooking type heat (<500 degrees or so) is theoretically ok, and it’s been tested to be safe, but it’s prudent to put down a potholder before setting down a hot casserole dish on the counter. We know high heat permanently weakens concrete, even if it doesn’t show. Fire type heat (1000 degrees) is never ok for concrete, and it will certainly weaken the concrete to the point of failure. For that reason we design fire pits with the flame not actually touching the concrete and the heat always going up and away from the concrete.
  5. It shouldn’t ever develop cracks under normal circumstances, and breaking once installed on top of cabinets would be unheard of. GRFC will deflect a large amount before it breaks (like rubber), so any small movement in cabinets or the house will not affect GFRC countertops.

Art District Concrete specializes in GFRC concrete countertops, tabletops and 3D objects like fire pits or water features. We’d love to help figure out how to make your dream a reality, and to teach you more about the possibilities of GFRC.

Wayne Rodgers
Art District Concrete

Intimate Design Style

Your best friend probably knows your favorite color and how you take your coffee, and your partner knows what type of art you like. You know which rooms get the most use in your home and how you fill your time using that space. These are all intimate details your interior designer should know about you as well.

Working with clients is about providing them with what they want. Whether modern or traditional, in a specific color scheme or with an eclectic flair, a client’s style is singularly their own and should be a direct reflection of their personality and how they live their life.

A home should nurture and relax, while reflecting what’s important to you. Home is a place where you can take a deep breath and leave behind the hectic world around us. Home should be a place that when you walk through the front door, you feel good. You may not know why, but it just feels right.

To achieve the feeling of home, the most important step is to develop a relationship with your interior designer (and the designer with their client). Meet in your home, share how you live within your home, talk about family and whatever else is important to you. In between meetings, look at homes on Houzz or Pinterest and create a portfolio of likes and dislikes. You don’t have to define what it is you like or not; simply recognize when something you’re looking at makes you feel good.

My own home is a true reflection of my appreciation for all different design styles; from modern to historic to European farmhouse, I have bits and pieces of several styles represented – in simple fashion – throughout my home. It is a true representation of the way I live, my family, travels and life experiences.

Paula M. Breuwet-Cohen
PC Designs LLC

The (Architecturally) Good Neighbor

Being a good neighbor extends beyond pleasantries at the mailbox and bringing over cookies for the holidays. It extends to the entire neighborhood.

It seems the house and even new apartment buildings being built into neighborhoods, mainly the urban neighborhoods, where an established street is being transformed into a “Mini All About Me” set of structures. There are few, if any, relationships to the past or for that matter the present with a level of scale, gracefulness or respect to the street.

This isn’t about the McMansions of the past in cities such as Atlanta, Boca Raton or Denver suburbs where homes have a little more land and air space between them, but in the tighter lots within the urban setting where the transfer of one style to the next is sometimes a mere 10 feet away.

The current dwelling design trend, that of non-classically proportioned modern or “mid-century modern” being dropped onto a street of other homes thereby competing with various styles of architecture. This does not encourage a warm neighborhood feeling, but rather a stark existence of people living closely together.

Because I am now thought of as “Old School,” earning my Master of Architecture in 1988, I know I’ve developed my own philosophies on architecture trends, but I never dismiss the classic study and honored traditions of architecture. My father always said a classic button down is never out of style and if it is kept in good shape, no one would ever know what year you bought it. It’s the same with architecture.

Photo by Nathan Blewett of Positive Perceptions

Today’s architecture, in many cases, aims to mix as many unrelated materials in random patterns and directions to more-or-less hide the box being built. I’ve coined this “Click Architecture.” With the click of a mouse, siding is changed from vertical to horizontal, metal panels in random color selections are added to one section and so on. Multiple individual elements that don’t relate to one another are brought together.

As noted in the book, “Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use & Avoid,” by Marianne Cusato and Ben Pentreath, today’s neighborhoods can be described as, “…each house attempts to be the center of attention, making it impossible for any one of them to be noticed.” They go on to say, “…successful streets have buildings that work together to create a larger composition.”

This holds true for commercial buildings as well, such as those being built as I write in several Denver’s currently “hot” neighborhoods like the Highlands and RiNo.

Even if building a GREEN or LEED certified structure, it is not at all green if it ends up under a wrecking ball in 50 years.

Stephen Hentschel, NCIDQ, ICAA
Hentschel Mandil Architects

Small & Chic Spaces

Kids going off to college. Colorado’s young professionals living in “New York-size” apartments. Trading the suburbs for city living. These are a few reasons why you might find yourself living in a small space. And, small spaces deserve well-designed interiors as much as, if not even more than, a large house.

It all comes down to doing less, better. The first step is to go through all your belongings and hold on to pieces that have an emotional value. It is an exercise in determining what is important. Get rid of the large furniture and focus on the things that you truly can’t live without.

Working with an interior designer, you can simplify in a beautiful way. Using color as the backdrop for your meaningful belongings, you can inject both personality and feeling. Making the space feel larger, or cozier depending on your style, is created by using the perfect hue. Selecting a color that will be timeless, as opposed to on trend, will help in the long run saving time and expenditures for re-painting when you tire of the color of the year on your walls. Light fixtures, hardware and other fixed details become the jewelry for your home, presenting your taste in a sophisticated and elegant way.

If you are living in a high-rise condominium or another smaller environment, it is anything but punishment. Smaller spaces give you the opportunity to reorganize your furniture, art and other pieces into a space that flows with your life. Every piece is reinvented to make the space feel more functional and even feel bigger. When well organized, you can have the ability to dress up or dress down your space with multi-functional spaces and pieces.

Take for example, two one-bedroom units in the same building. Though they are the same size and same layout, they are completely different. The photos shared here demonstrate the ability to take a small space and make it uniquely yours and comfortably fitted to your lifestyle. With good design, you don’t need a big house to feel right at home.

Eric Mandil

Mandil Inc.

A Fresh Take on Outdoor Living – Setting the Mood

With more than 15 years in the luxury landscape design industry, I have seen trends come and go, including many that should never return. Today’s approach to landscape design is focused on useful home expansion. With simple, yet smart design, and the use of materials with one-of-a-kind appeal, your outdoor living space can exist in harmony with the natural surroundings.

Many family’s most memorable moments are shared in their backyard. Consider your own family. How do you use your outdoor spaces? How do you wish you did? More space for play? Ready for a spontaneous dinner party? A quiet spot to unwind?

No matter the type of space you want to create, the options for making your home’s outdoors more enjoyable have changed dramatically over the past 10 years. The popularity of remodeling exterior areas has created a market for well-made materials and design elements able to withstand long-term outdoor exposure. However, there is a lot of information to sift through and understand for busy homeowners. Investing wisely the first time is critical to saving money and future headache.

The best outdoor spaces encourage fun and relaxation, while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. An inviting landscape does not have to be elaborate or large in scale to draw people in. Simple elements thoughtfully placed can create charm and warmth, and custom craftsmanship can make all the difference. A unique fire pit can inspire everything from kids roasting marshmallows to a romantic evening for two. Water features offer soothing sounds that can also create a sense of coolness and calm, while canceling out or distractions from unwanted noise. An outdoor sound system makes it effortless to enjoy music. Lush greens generously planted are vital the visual enjoyment of the space. Plant material and annual containers should be used creatively to carve out more intimate spaces in a way that feels natural and alluring.

Lighting is an extremely effective tool for setting the mood and making a space functional. Skimping on or skipping lighting reduces the wow factor of your space at night, as well as possibly making your outdoor space difficult and unsafe to use after dark. Thoughtfully placed directional lighting allows you to get many more hours of enjoyment outside.

Ambiance and intimacy are more commonly associated with dining rooms, bedrooms and other interior spaces, yet both are attainable in landscape design.  Your outdoor space is your chance to creatively expand your home beyond its doors and maximize your living space. Working with a professional landscape firm will ensure you consider all the possibilities for gathering and enjoying the natural setting that surrounds your home.

Troy Shimp
Lifescape Colorado

Creating Unique Spaces

For most, painting a home involves a can of paint, a brush and something to cover up what you don’t want to get covered with errant drips of paint. For me, it involves a whole lot more.

I have painted many four-walled rooms in one color, with clean lines and every drip of paint caught by a drop cloth. But, what I most enjoy about my profession is when I am painting anything other than a four-walled room. Specializing in the luxury market, I have the opportunity to create unique spaces in a variety of settings from interior and exterior, residential to commercial.

Aside from getting dialed in on exactly what the customer wants, the biggest challenge is remodel projects. Working with dissimilar materials or a portion of a whole, merging old with new, is a craft in itself. Painting is easy; it’s the matching and melding that require patience and skill.

The greatest reward is the people I meet. As you can imagine, creating a Tuscan finish, perfecting high gloss panels or applying an epoxy treatment to an outdoor hockey rink introduces me to some of the most interesting people in Colorado.

Many projects today look for painted woodwork versus the past trend of stained wood. Smooth finishes, and clean, light colors are also a common thread in today’s design. What never goes out of fashion? Good breaks and clean tape lines.

Matt Poskochil
Fine Line Painting

Bringing Tile to the Architecture & Design Community

My first job out of college was in sales for a phone and data systems provider. Since then, I have made sales my professional track, but have changed industries to one much more colorful and creative than data technology.

I was recruited away from my first sales position by family business man Jerry Hall. He liked my sales presentation when I sold him data equipment for his Indianapolis business, Custom Floors. We worked together for four years and in that time, more than doubled the company’s revenue by selling and installing tile, hardwood, carpet and vinyl flooring. I learned about working with builders, estimating for plans, site measurements, ordering materials and scheduling appropriately for new home building.

After moving to Colorado in 2008, it was a natural progression to start working at ANN SACKS, and since March of this year, Bedrosians. The transition from working with residential homeowners to high end, luxury custom projects was a challenge, in a good way. All the skills I had developed working directly with vendors, home builders and home owners parlayed into creating a substantial book of architecture and design (A & D) business at ANN SACKS.

Having the opportunity to learn about and then help create the vision of the A & D community has been an aspect of selling I hadn’t anticipated, and I really enjoy it. Continuing those relationships in my new role as regional manager for Bedrosians, a family-owned business celebrating its 70th year, I look forward to bringing the A & D community along with me on this journey.

Travis Daugherty

The Design of an Architectural Design

Sitting at a drafting board with a sharp pencil and T-square in hand may be what most people envision when picturing a new home being drawn up by an architect. Whereas this may be true for a portion of the process, it is but one stage in architectural design.

When starting on a new architectural project, there are five phases. Understanding these phases will help you have a better experience when you engage with an architect to design your custom space.

Schematic Design: This phase will take anywhere from two to four weeks, requiring a predetermined number of meetings between you and your architect. During this time, you will create a list of project objectives, and discuss size and budget considerations. The architect will work with you on initial development of the concept, design and style, resulting in a hand drawn site plan, floor plans and elevations.

Design Development: The project will be further refined with more detailed drawings that incorporate any changes from the schematic design phase. At the end of four or so weeks and a few more meetings with your architect, you will have an interactive computer-generated 3D model of the project.  At this point, computerized floor plans, elevations and sections of the building are generated.  At the end of this phase the design is considered final, yet still flexible.

Construction Documents: There shouldn’t be a need for any more meetings, but in the three to six weeks of this phase, complete computerized documentation of the final design will be provided, including interior architectural details such as ceiling treatments and millwork to be included. This is also when construction documents will be issued for permit submittal, general contractor pricing and construction of the project.

Permit Submittal & Contractor Negotiation: During the six to eight-week period that permits are under review at the Building Department, the architect will provide the owner with support and guidance in negotiating with a general contractor, from a competitive bid to deciding upon a general contractor. The architect will also work with the selected general contractor on procuring the required building permits and approvals from the Building Department.

Construction Administration: The architectural design comes to life during this phase, with the architect visiting the site during construction to ensure follow through of design intent and compliance with construction documents.

And, voila! Your new home, office space or other built structure is complete!

Steven Vujeva, RA, NCARB
Mandil Inc.

Polo Club Residence


Working on this project is one of the many times I have truly felt the effects of working closely with others at the top of their craft to create something magnificent. As I said in a feature about this Polo Club home in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles magazine, “The goal was to make it look like it was the first house on the street, and we all worked together and created a sort of guild. We became a true collaborative force, and because the homeowners were so open to our ideas, we were able to create an exceptional piece of architecture.”

Built from the ground up with architect Don Ruggles, AIA, NCARB, ICAA, founder and president of Ruggles Mabe Studio, this home embodies the 1920s era – the time when Denver’s Polo Club neighborhood began to develop. Alongside Jeremy Larson, Troy Shimp, Ann Wolf and Ed Taylor, we worked nearly three years to create this authentic, timeless home. Keep reading to learn more about this project from Troy, Jeremy, Ann and Ed’s unique perspectives.

Eric Mandil, AIA, NCARB, ICAA, Mandil Inc.
interior designer on residence


Troy Shimp, Lifescape Colorado
landscape architecture

What is your favorite part about this project?

My favorite part about this project was the opportunity to work with such a creative and collaborative team that was allowed a long leash due to the open mindedness of the client. They had complete trust in the team they had tasked with creating their home, which I think was a rare opportunity for all involved.

What challenged you most with this project?

The most challenging piece of this project from my perspective was dealing with the existing spruce trees along the north end of the property. The trees had to be retained, however a new driveway was also necessary in the area. The challenge was finding a way to not only to save the trees, but still allow for a driveway that cars would be able to maneuver through. We devised a system that not only allows for water to drain, but also allows for water to get to the remaining root systems of the spruce trees below the driveway.

Who has had the most influence on your career?

There are many who have influenced my career. Pouring over gardening and design books over the past 25 years has certainly helped shape my style and approach. My college professors and old landscape architecture history books, and many industry professionals that I have had the fortune of working with over the years have all had a lasting impression in how I think through a garden, reminding me to design for today as well as far into the future. However, if I had to pick one of my favorite local inspirations it would be Colorado landscape designer Lauren Springer Odgen. As a teenager I watched her transform the landscape in my hometown of Windsor. It was the first time I had been exposed to her style of landscaping and it amazed me. To this day, I still find pieces of her influence in many of the gardens I design.

Jeremy Larson, Montare Builders
custom home builder

What is your favorite part about this project?

Working with the entire team and the subcontractors to create a truly timeless home that will last in Denver for many centuries.

 What challenged you most with this project?

The 2,700 individually hand carved pieces of Mexican travertine and the hours of shop drawings needed to review each piece. In the end, only six came out flawed due to fabrication issues.

 Who has had the most influence on your career?

My father, Rick Larson, who is by far the best builder in Colorado.

Ann Wolff, Ann Wolff Glass Design
custom leaded glass highlights and windows

What is your favorite part about this project?

My favorite part of the project was researching the glass. I really enjoyed making the tall cabinet doors out of exquisite, imported, hand blown German restoration glass, which is made to imitate older wavy glass. It elegantly softens the clear look.

 What challenged you most with this project?

The biggest challenge is always correctly and aesthetically interpreting the needs of the design team.

 Who has had the most influence on your career?

The biggest influence on my career was the Austrian master craftsman, Michael Ohnmacht, who trained me. I also worked for a German-owned studio on Long Island with master craftsman Helmut Schardt.

Ed Taylor, Taylored Iron
exterior fence, window well covers and interior rails

What is your favorite part about this project?

Working on the exterior fence.

 What challenged you most with this project?

While working on the exterior fence, it was challenging to keep it on the property line, while also working around several trees we wanted to keep in place.

Who has had the most influence on your career?

My brother-in-law, Ray, who is my mentor.