An Interview With Beth Freeman, LEED AP, Senior Project Designer at EVstudio

June 30, 2009

Beth Freeman Interview Pic


I’ve been working at EVstudio for a little over 2 years – I started the week after I graduated and have been here since.  While here I’ve worked on over 30 projects, pretty evenly divided between residences and commercial projects, gradually stepping into a senior project designer role.  It’s still especially thrilling to me to be involved with a project from the very beginning and know that it will be a reality in a fairly short amount of time.

Some of the projects I’ve been happiest with include a contemporary duplex I got to design from a blank sheet up that sold before construction was complete – and the owner is coming back to us soon for new projects.  Commercial projects have an enjoyably different scope and pacing – working on the Acapulco Mexican restaurant and the Denver Montclair International School stand out.  Any time a project comes back with positive client feedback it stands out as a great project to me.


Before working at EVstudio, I worked 25-hour weeks for 2 years at the large firm VOA in Chicago.  While I eventually decided that the large- office environment wasn’t the greatest fit for me, I enjoyed working as part of a team on large high-rise and hotel projects.  My favorite project while working there was a LEED-certified loft high-rise close to Soldier Field.  I worked on producing and compiling the LEED documents, making use of my then-new LEED certification.  I also drew up all of the stair towers for the lofts – a small contribution, but all mine.  That also spurred the decision to move into a smaller firm with smaller, more graspable projects – I wanted to learn about buildings by working out buildings start to finish, starting with small projects and working towards bigger, not being a stair tower expert that occasionally gets to work on other parts of large buildings.   ( highrise link)  I started off my architecture-related jobs working in an architectural model shop – taking plans of condo towers and adapting them to a laser cutter and assembling them into display models.  We produced very high-quality models for a variety of projects, and I think that sparked my passion for getting things built.  I got to see several projects pass through our hands on the way to the construction process – seeing a project I’d had my hands on become a 60-story high rise was amazing for someone a couple years out of high school.


I love living in Colorado and Denver – so many outdoor sports and activities, and such perfect weather to enjoy them in.  I’ve hit skiing and hiking hard since I’ve been out here, and am gradually working on upping the mountain biking skills….  I also love working and living in Denver – being able to bike everywhere is important to me, as is all the fantastic live music available walking distance from my apartment.  I never expected to be going to as many concerts as I do.  I also enjoy sketching, painting, and graphic design – I’m still best at architectural subjects, but I’m trying to expand the repertoire.    Other places I’ve lived include a lot of the Midwest – I went to Concordia College in Moorhead, MN (sister town to Fargo, ND of movie fame) for a year pre-Chicago, and my family bounced around Minnesota and North and South Dakota as I was growing up.  My hometown was Alexandria, MN though, if I had to pick one city.


I graduated with a B.Arch from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.  Going to school in Chicago was a great experience – it’s a living history museum for architecture geeks, as well as having fantastic new architecture going up all the time.  IIT really focuses on making sure students have a firm grasp of the detailing that goes into well-designed buildings as well as the more esoteric architectural concerns – I appreciated the connection to reality while also getting to work with some really outstanding architects.


It’s great to be working under principals as knowledgeable about the building process as Dean and Sean.  While encouraging staff to grow to take on entire projects, they are really great about providing their expertise to all the projects passing through the office.  Knowing that, if necessary, the answers to most planning, building department, code, and obviously architectural detailing questions are sitting 10 feet away in the office helps me be confident that anyone in the office will be offering top service and accurate information.


College and post-college is a perfect time for learning about residential architecture – I’ve cycled through 9 apartments in the past 6 years, and I learned something new from each of them.  I’ve lived in a 400 sq. ft. two-bedroom that functioned better then a 1100 sq ft 3 bed loft/condo apartment, and a 900 sq ft house that (relatively) happily held 5 adults.  My current apartment is my favorite yet – the attic of an old Victorian by Cheeseman Park – it’s showing me that character and uniqueness more then makes up for a variety of ills.  It’s fun to design homes that, even if modest, seem expansive by comparison – the fundamentals of a workable space don’t change.


I also love traveling.  This picture is from my trip last August to Europe – at the Commerzbank by Sir Norman Foster in Frankfurt, Germany – possibly also extremely jet-lagged and excited to be there.  I spent a full semester studying in Paris and traveling the continent in 2006 and this last trip was a month of whirlwind touring as well – next time I’d like to take it slower and stay for awhile, possibly in the Italian or French (or Spanish or Greek or….) countryside.  Being able to see the history overlapping with the present is a clichéd but amazing part of visiting Europe – it’s fun to contrast the centuries old standing, grand architecture with the cabins, shacks, and mines you’ll see while hiking – so much newer yet so much more destroyed by the elements.  My favorite place in Europe is the Thermal Baths in Vals, Switzerland – I’ve been their twice, and both times I was blown away by the perfectly appropriate, permanent, and playful architectural in mountains more aggressive then ours.

Elicia Ratajczyk to Speak on Architectural Software at Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute

June 28, 2009

Elicia Ratajczyk from EVstudio’s Evergreen office will be participating in a panel discussion at the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute on Wednesday July 8th from 11:30 to 1:00. The topic for the panel is working professionals opinions on the software that they use in their practice, especially with regards to masonry design.

RMMI is at 686 Mariposa in Denver. Their seminars are free, just bring your own lunch.

The Trees Are Being Installed at All Kids Dental in Evergreen

June 26, 2009

all kids dental trees install

all kids dental fireplace

all kids dental breaking the ceiling

One of the most highly anticipated items in the All Kids Dental office has been the installation of the trees in the lobby. They were designed and are being installed by SVI Theming Construction Services.

The office is getting very close to opening. If you have kids and are looking for the right pediatric dentist, I’d defintely check out Dr. Bob and Dr. Brie at All Kids Dental in Evergreen.

An Interview With Dean Dalvit, AIA, EI

June 25, 2009

Dean and family on Peak 9, Breckenridge

Dean and family on Peak 9, Breckenridge


Well, it may be easier to answer what I don’t do at EVstudio :). Seriously though, as a founding principal, and growing the firm from my sole proprietorship in the basement of my home to a three office A/E firm with a strong and growing team of professionals, I have done (and still do) just about every job from the ground up. These days, my time is split between running the business and designing projects.  Business activities involve tasks like marketing and accounting to managing other staff and making sure every aspect of our tight quality control measures are met. The design work that I do includes programming, schematic design, engineering, plans checking and follow up on projects under construction. It makes for a long workday that often stretches in the early (and sometimes not so early) hours of the morning, but it is highly satisfying work that I do and that keeps me motivated. I have my father and my uncle to thank for my over-the-top work ethic. I don’t stop until the job is done and I am never idle.


I have been very fortunate that my career has taken me through every facet of design and construction that you can imagine. I have worked with some great mentors that have shown me what works (and some who have illustrated what doesn’t work so well J). My educational background started at the Engineering school at CU. I graduated with degrees in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in structure as well as Applied Mathematics. Not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but rather because my grandmother always told me to take as much math as I could in school…so I did. During school, I split my internships between the University, working in the research lab, and Kiewit Western Construction Company, doing everything from construction cost estimating to field surveying as well as a few project engineer roles on smaller projects. After graduation, I moved to Summit County and worked for a PLS doing mostly surveying work as well as some land planning, site planning, topographic studies and other related tasks. When I was up there, I worked with a lot of architects and only then did I realize that architecture was my true passion. My next job was for a licensed architect at a small design/build firm, and thus I began my official architecture internship. For 7 years, I worked as an intern and studied architecture. I also had the opportunity to act as project manager on several custom home projects, a multifamily development, and some commercial work. During this time, I really honed my design and documentation skills as I was building off of my own sets of plans. I also gained valuable knowledge about labor and materials costs as well as what is really practical to ask of a subcontractor and what details to avoid. During this time, I also had the opportunity to develop a speculative residential single family home in Breckenridge, as well as a number of other projects for myself and my family, taking on yet another role as owner. This certainly provides yet another insight into the total needs of a project. After completing my internship and passing all 9 of the ARE exams, I set out on my own and established the first building block to EVstudio. That sole proprietorship was called Eagle View Architecture and I worked for a year before I realized I either needed more hours in a day, or I needed to grow the firm. That is when EVstudio was born. I brought Sean in as a partner and we shortened the name to EV and the rest is history…so to speak.


Because I am a principal, and up until the launch of our engineering department just this month, I played a role on nearly every project that has come through the office. We started off doing mostly residential work when we were smaller, but have since grown and while commercial and residential projects seem to run in cycles, there seems to be a much better balance now among the project types. People like to ask me if I am a commercial or a residential architect. As I see it, I don’t differentiate between the two. I’m interested in buildings and the nature of how the built environment affects people and their quality of life, regardless of the purpose of the building. Also, the constant challenge of variety excites me. I love that I can lay out a floor plan for a retail furniture store in the morning, in the afternoon run a code analysis for an office building, then at night, calculate the loads on a truss in a single family home. I truly feel that as a result, each project receives the benefit of the gathered collective knowledge of all of the other project types that we do. The last thing that I would want to do is the same thing over and over again. That would be stagnant and unfulfilling, not to mention only serve to dumb down the projects to assembly line production.


I can honestly say that the most satisfying recognition I can get is a happy client. I have countless project binders sitting on my shelf above my desk and looking at each one of them sparks a happy memory of working with the client during design, seeing them on the jobsite during construction and seeing the joy in their faces, or hearing from them after the project is complete and finding out how successful their project was. As a young and growing firm, it is important to get accolades from the various trade organizations, magazines, etc., and we are constantly striving to fill the conference room with those kinds of awards (with some success, I might add). We post those awards all over our blog and website, so I won’t take space mentioning them here. There is, however, one award I received that I am particularly proud of, and that is the Mentor of the Year award given at the 2008 YAAG event. My staff had nominated me without my knowledge and had written such wonderful things about my training efforts and all of the things we do here at EVstudio to broaden the knowledge and experience of our staff. I am very grateful to have the privilege to work with such a great team.


When is that exactly? Actually, while I do put in the long hours, I am a big proponent of working hard and playing harder. Fortunately, when you’re an architect, you can multitask J. Wherever I go, I study the built environment around me, whether I am walking through the Vail village on my way to the slopes or if I am on stage at the Little Bear playing guitar. My interests range from skiing, biking, hiking and rock climbing, and camping to playing music, and enjoying the arts. I share these passions, along with my passion for architecture with my two children (9 and 10 years old as of this interview), and my wife (in our 14th year of marriage). Most of my spare time is spent with my family doing the things we love to do and I can’t imagine anything better than that.


The only thing that I would like to add is my basic driving principle: Always be positive. Life is way too short for this not to be a boatload of fun and while sometimes things don’t always go as you would like them to, be patient and see how it turns out before jumping to conclusions and expecting the worst. You might be surprised.

EVstudio Officially Launches Structural Engineering Department

June 24, 2009

Hot off the AP wire…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          


Denver/Evergreen, CO (June 24, 2009) — What started as a local one-man business has grown to become a full service one-stop-shop architecture and structural engineering firm with the ability to take on projects across the country.  “EVstudio is proud to announce the expansion of our architectural services to include full scope structural engineering services,” said founder Dean Dalvit, EVstudio.  “The EVstudio Engineering Division functions as both the in-house structural department for projects where we are the architects, but now also as a Structural Engineering Consultant for owners, contractors and other architects on projects we do not design as the project architect.”

The newest member to the EVstudio team, Jim Houlette, PE, will serve as EVstudio’s Director of Structural Engineering. “Jim’s recent work includes projects for national home builders, multi-family developers, hotels as well as forensic work throughout the Front Range,” said Dalvit. “He provides a practical engineering sensibility while also being sensitive to the architectural needs of the project.” With a licensed PE and several structurally trained support staff, the EVstudio Engineering Division is offering full scope structural engineering services on residential and commercial projects of any size and can provide complex structural solutions from the ground up.

Dalvit plans to continue to grow the company into more markets despite the recession.  With offices already in Evergreen, Denver and Central Texas, and a strong network of design professionals, EVstudio has developed the logistics to take on a variety of projects in many locations. In time, EVstudio will add more strategic locations that can share their current resources to better serve an even larger population.


 EVstudio is an architecture, structural engineering and planning firm specializing in creating quality solutions for projects in Colorado, Texas and select other states.  Experience includes custom residential, multifamily, commercial, educational, medical, retail, industrial and performance spaces.  EVstudio is committed to great design, community involvement and helping clients navigate the architectural and building processes.    


For more information:

Dean A. Dalvit, AIA, EI



Educational Occupancy Group as Defined in the International Building Code

June 22, 2009

One of the first steps in any building project is evaluation of the appropriate occupancy group. This drives building size, building height, construction type, exiting and fire separations.

Educational Group E is the occupancy for buildings used by six or more people through 12th grade.

Religious educational work and religious auditoriums accessory to a place of worship and with less than 100 occupants are A-3 occupancies. If it has more than 100 occupants or is not accessory then it is E.

E is also the occupancy for day cares where there are more than five and less than one hundred children older than 2.5 years. If each classroom does not exit on grade or there are more than one hundred children or the children are less than 2.5 years old it is an I-4 occupancy. A 24 hour facility goes to group I-2.

Educational uses above the 12th grade are Type B, Business Group or type A-3, Assembly for lecture halls.

EVstudio Recognized by Rotary International for LEED Work on Evergreen Terraces

June 20, 2009

It was a great turnout this morning at the Historic El Rancho restaurant in Evergreen for a series of awards and recognitions bestowed by the Evergreen Rotary International for environmentally conscious work that people in the community are doing. The Evergreen Terraces Office Building was one of the projects recognized for it’s sustainable design and construction.

Terraces owner, Albert Challenger in the audience looking on

Terraces owner, Albert Challenger in the audience looking on

Elicia Ratajczyk, LEED AP also accepted an award on behlf of Cactus Jacks for the work they have been doing to promote green efforts in the community. It was great to see such support from the community’s business leaders for honoring the work that we are doing to promote sustainability in our local communities.

Elicia Ratajczyk, LEED AP, speaking about sustainable practice

Elicia Ratajczyk, LEED AP, speaking about sustainable practice