Beginnings - Conceptual Design by Anna Slowey


Beginnings with Surround

At Surround Architecture we see multiple points of design departure come from all aspects of life, and this is a shared account of our excitement in the initial phase of design process…

One of our most recent commissions begins on a rural plot near the southern edge of Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada.  Within a short distance from shore is the extensive Niagara Escarpement—an extensive Paleozoic landmass of eroded cliffs, wetlands, and a forest ecosystem that spans nearly the entire southern edge of the Great Lakes.  As visitors from the high desert region of Boulder, CO we were fascinated by the seemingly omnipresence of water that ran underneath, through and around every crevasse of the land.  A few million years of flowing water has revealed fantastic rock formations and boulders which continue to inspire our language through out the design process.


 Following a 2-hour drive north from Toronto, we meet the clients on site for an overview of the property’s amenities.  Agrarian farmland made up over half the lot, and another quarter was a low-lying marsh. The building site was carefully selected adjacent to an existing pond, nestled just behind a line of trees to be shielded from the prevailing winds.  The owners are avid outdoors enthusiasts, taking advantage of seasonal hiking, biking and skiing.  Their new house would not only be a full-time residence, but also a relaxing chalet for après celebrations and respite.  Retaining physiological and visual connection to the specific site was an utmost priority as well as integrating the landscape a prerequisite to the final design.



After agreeing on the general placement of the house site, the team set off to meet the builder and learn about local building practices.  We found a cozy table for a late lunch, and eagerly set about sketching ideas.  Sketching is a fundamental thinking tool at Surround, and we encourage the practice as much as possible!  We love that it is the most direct route to our thoughts-- full of messy lines, abstract ideas manifesting themselves with real immediacy.  Many sketches do not end up as final designs, although each one eventually inform us of a path to resolution, and then circle back to the beginning again…


Three productive hours together, and then we all depart in high spirits as the thoughts begin to swirl in waves of possibilities.  Some elements are retained, some fall away and then others blossom into unexpected opportunities.  The prospect of working beyond our familiar context is a combination of both humbling contemplation and optimistic will.  Beginnings like these are sought after on every project, and --while immensely satisfying--is merely the spark that hopefully will become the start of something greater than our collective intentions.

View from 7th Line.jpg

Immediately upon returning to Colorado we set into visualizing our collective ideas and developing the concept—above is an early rendering of the Blue Mountain Residence.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Knollwood - Rendering by Anna Slowey


Introducing the rendering of one of our newest residences here in Boulder we call 'Knollwood.' Simple gabled forms comprised of handmade white brike sit atop a plinth of Coloradan limestone. A slate roof provides visual texture and contrast to the white brick while the dramatically sloping topography gives way to the stone mass of the pool. A sliver of glass hints at the water feature beyond.

Geneva Park Featured in CHL by Anna Slowey

Geneva Park - Feature Screenshot.PNG

This month's issue of Colorado Homes and Lifestyles features a spread on Geneva Park and highlights the site, team, and design process that brought the project to life. 

With a vision of 'stumbling upon a country farmhouse,' right in the middle of Boulder, the homeowners and project team wanted to bring forward some of those details and capitalize on the wooded lot conducive to this stumbling with its long driveway off the street and around a bend, leading to a house hidden among the trees.

A marriage of the couple's two styles, contemporary oversized glazing and huge operable glass walls bring the light, air, and views into the home, while more traditional forms and detailing can be found in the high pitched gable roofs and crisp white siding. Protecting the large exterior trees and forming a "magical landscape" that shelters the home as the topography and giant boulder climb toward the rear became a pivotal feature in both the design and in capitalizing in treehouse views out towards the surrounding wooded lot.

Surround Architecture - Geneva Park
Surround Architecture - Geneva Park - Entry
Surround Architecture - Geneva Park - Hearth



Pleasant Ridge - Rendering by Anna Slowey

Pleasant Ridge - Rendering

Pleasant Ridge - Rendering

Introducing one of our newest residential projects here in Boulder -- Pleasant Ridge. Uniquely situated within rural fields to be planted with hay and alfalfa, the orientation of the home and barn aim to take in the sweeping views of the foothills from the west through the north as well as the horses grazing from framed views within the home. Strategic placement of native vegetative screens and structures provide wind breaks and focus views towards the foothills and the inner courtyard this orientation creates. A subdued material palette and utilization of traditional rural forms along with the restoration of agricultural use to the site aims to reflect the characteristics of the land and adjacent properties. 

Bluebell Remodel - Completion by Anna Slowey

Surround Architecture - Bluebell Remodel

This Spring we completed "Bluebell"-- a poptop remodel here in Boulder. Utilizing the existing foundation and 90% of the existing exterior walls, an entire interior renovation was made and second floor added. Removing the front yard garage entry and turning into a bike mudroom helped strengthen the street presence. A cedar trellis distinguishes an entry sequence and the overhang of the upper level creates usable outdoor space in both front and back. You can see the original 1950's brick ranch below. 

Surround Architecture - Bluebell Remodel - Before

As the original floor plan was majorly opened up and existing walls were removed, the interior embraces the articulated steel structure that runs in from the exterior. The steel also finds its way to the gathering room where blackened plate steel wraps the entertainment wall. Click into our portfolio page for Bluebell here for the entire set of photos. 

Surround Architecture - Bluebell Interior
Surround Architecture - Bluebell Steel Fireplace
Surround Architecture - Bluebell Remodel
Surround Architecture - Bluebell Remodel

Collegiate Peaks Bank - Build by Anna Slowey

Collegiate Peaks Bank RiNo - Rendering

Collegiate Peaks Bank RiNo - Rendering

We've broken ground on one of our new commercial projects - the Collegiate Peaks Bank located in the RiNo neighborhood of Denver. Below are a few shots from the progress of the pour this week.

Comprised of dark masonry, steel, glass, and cross laminated timbers, this commercial project embraces structure as finish and the balance of lightness/transparency vs solid/security. The large glass volume houses the public spaces and sculptural stair within as the cross laminated timbers fold up and over, it structurally supports the folding roofing material above as structure also acts as the warm finish within. Formally, the bank is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional portal framed industrial building

Surround Architecture - Collegiate Peaks Bank construction
Surround Architecture - Collegiate Peaks Bank construction
Surround Architecture - Collegiate Peaks Bank construction

Lems Shoes - Build by Anna Slowey

Surround Architecture - Lems Shoes - Commercial TI

Lems Shoes - Commercial TI

This week we're punchwalking and wrapping up our commercial TI work for the new office space of Lems Shoes, a local shoe company dedicated to "creating sustainable shoes that consider the foot above all else." 

The material palette reflects both the creative energy and draw to the outdoors behind the Lems brand. This includes Wyoming snow fence, oiled MDF, peg board and gymnasium lockers with accents of chartreuse infusing energy into the custom shoe display, steel girders, and interior garage door. 

Surround Architecture - Lems Shoes - Commercial TI
Surround Architecture - Lems Shoes - Lockers
Surround Architecture - Lems Shoes
Walnut slab table by LVTD Design

Walnut slab table by LVTD Design

Surround Architecture - Lems Shoes - Boulder View

Brookside - Rendering by Anna Slowey

Brookside - Rendering

Brookside - Rendering

We've kicked off a new residential project here in Boulder we call "Brookside." Sited on a heavily wooded lot, out clients loved the idea of connected with the surrounding foliage, tree canopies, and sounds of the nearby creek as if living up in a treehouse. Shown here in the rendering of Brookside, the projecting steel and glass boxes serve to provide this feeling of living out amongst the trees. Follow along with the progress of this home at our Instagram project hashtag #sa_brookside.

207 Canyon - Build by Anna Slowey

207 Canyon - Before (Left) and After (Right) Tenant Improvements

207 Canyon - Before (Left) and After (Right) Tenant Improvements

Last year we began commercial tenant improvements for the exterior and interiors of 207 Canyon, an office complex built in the 1970s. Updated glazing, mechanical systems, exterior/interior material palettes, spacial improvements, and exposing the trusses at the interior made for a huge improvement to the pistachio-hued structure. 

Below we've included a few snapshots of the progress as we're nearing completion with landscape and springtime plants going in at the front courtyard this week.


Updated with new windows, doors, a custom steel shade trellis (below), and steel panel cladding, the front entrance is given visual definition. The courtyard is currently being landscaped which will be outfitted for outdoor working spaces

Custom steel entry trellis

Custom steel entry trellis


Above are the interiors for an outdoor outfitters office space. Look closely for the wall being readied for climbing holds. Murals of local outdoor destinations accent the interiors of this space. A low plate height and dropped acoustical tiles of the original building resulted in the interior space feeling compressed and small. By removing these, exposing and painting these trusses white, natural daylight floods the ceiling and allows the space to feel much more comfortable. 


Feature wall at the reception awaiting a paint job.


A mockup for custom fabricated wood floor tiles salvaged from the timbers of a demolished deck structure onsite.

Cairn - Rendering by Anna Slowey

"Cairn" - Rendering

"Cairn" - Rendering

Happy Friday! We're kicking off a new project we call "Cairn." The two primary structures sit on this exquisite site to frame out the views up and along the foothills to the west. Both main living spaces and bedrooms turn inward towards the landscape and the courtyard this layout creates. Opening up to the hill rising in back, huge operable doors and high clerestory glazing allows views from the base which criss crosses with running and hiking trails all the way up to the tree lined hilltop. 

If you follow us on Instagram, follow Cairn's progress at our project hashtag #sa_cairn.

Meadow - Rendering by Anna Slowey

"Meadow" - Rendering

"Meadow" - Rendering

We're kicking off a new project we call "Meadow"...rendered above. Relatively simple in form, two stone gables meet via a glass connector while more intimate public spaces such as the library and dining room sit lower into the landscape as wood-clad boxes  at the front side (opposite) of the house. This home opens up into the back courtyard and pool seen here through huge operable glass doors. Keep up with the progress of this home on Facebook and Instagram by way of the project hashtag #sa_meadow. Click into the project folder here for the full rendering. 

Selva Mar Horse Barn - Completion by Anna Slowey

Selva Mar (Top) and Selva Mar Horse Barn Construction in Progress (Bottom)

Selva Mar (Top) and Selva Mar Horse Barn Construction in Progress (Bottom)

Following the completion of the Costa Rican Selva Mar house by a few years, a barn was recently completed to provide shade and housing for the horses. Borrowing from the roof form and materials used on the home, the horse barn is comprised of corteza (ipe), steel, and a metal roof. We've included a few snapshots of the build and final barn structure below. Click into the main house project here


View Point - Rendering by Anna Slowey

View Point - Rendering

View Point - Rendering

We're kicking off a new project we call "View Point." We work with a lot of gorgeous sites in and around Boulder, but View Point may be one of our new favorites. Below are some earlier facade and material studies as we diagram and tie in surrounding views and site conditions. 

High Line - Rendering by Anna Slowey

High Line - Rendering

High Line - Rendering

We're kicking off one of our newest residential projects we call "High Line." Located in Denver, this single level home creates the ultimate indoor-outdoor experience and celebrates exposed structure. Check back for more progress on Instagram as we're excited to get a hole in the ground soon. 

Collegiate Peaks Bank - Rendering by Anna Slowey

Rendering of Collegiate Peaks Bank in RiNo, Denver

Rendering of Collegiate Peaks Bank in RiNo, Denver

We are excited to announce our new project with Collegiate Peaks Bank in RiNo, Denver. Comprised of dark masonry, steel, glass, and cross laminated timbers, this commercial project embraces structure as finish and the balance of lightness/transparency vs. solid/security. The large glass volume houses the public spaces and sculptural stair within. As the structural cross laminated timbers fold up and over, it acts as the warm finish within while supporting the folding roofing above. Formally, the bank is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional portal framed industrial building.

Aittin - Completion by Anna Slowey

"Aittin" - Rendering

"Aittin" - Rendering

This summer we wrapped up our residence "Aittin." We have finally made our way through editing photos and are excited to post the project here on our site. This home is uniquely situated over a little creek with wonderful mature foliage and views of the foothills out the back. Click into any of the photos for the full set of images.

Sunset - Rendering by Anna Slowey



We've been fine tuning the landscape, exterior materials, and interior finishes of Sunset. Working with Marpa Landscape, the approach of the house is shaped by steel and stone sitewalls that form a courtyard housing niwaki trees. As seen in the rendering, these elegantly sculpted trees are larger, planted (not potted), and more sculpted than their bonsai counterparts.

Chickadee - Timelapse by Anna Slowey

Chickadee's making great progress, from rendering to the deconstruction of the existing home, to the build of the new simple gabled structure. A breezeway connects the main living spaces to the garage.

Watch both timelapse videos of the deconstruct and breezeway glass install below:

Designed by Surround Architecture, built by Morningstar Homes

Bierhaus - Rendering by Anna Slowey

Bierhaus - Rendering

Bierhaus - Rendering

We're excited to introduce one of our new residential projects....Bierhaus! The close proximity to some of Boulder's most trafficked hiking destinations provides the challenge of embracing the immediate view of the foothills as well as creating privacy from the foot traffic of the hillside. 

The form--as shown in our rendering above--is the result of this balance and specific orientation of views. Reinforcing that orientation is the metal roofing that wraps down from the gabled slope to create the walls below.

Keep an eye out for progress shots of Bierhaus as we are eager to break ground.