We are pleased to introduce Brent Bartels, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect and Project Manager at Tryba. Brent’s studies in the field of urban planning influence his approach to the interrelation of building, community, city and end-user. Over his 20-year career, he has delivered a wide array of project types across North America, from high-rise hospitality to multi-family urban infill and civic urban planning. We asked Brent to share his thoughts on design, what inspires him and brings him joy.
What drew you to architecture?
I have always loved to create. My father was a civil engineer and my grandfather a sign-painter. Growing up near my grandfather’s small shop in southern Colorado, I learned to appreciate artistry and the ability to make a living doing what you love and enjoy. Since childhood I have always found delight in sculpting and building things. Architecture and design seemed like a natural extension of these sensibilities.
How does the design process begin for you?
My design process begins by gathering. I like to listen to the needs and desires of the client and understand the context, scale, light and history of the site and its surroundings. I enjoy the puzzle of zoning and the larger master plans that inform the architecture within. I see architecture as a set of influences and forces that shape not just the built form but the void spaces and urban realm that the solids create.
I have worked across North America throughout my career and have experience creating and building sleek glass high-rises in the middle of urbanity. I have to say, however, my favorite project to date is tucked in the Vail Valley. I partnered with the city to transform the Lionshead entry experience by creating the Lionshead Welcome and Transit Center. Although it is a smaller building, scale-wise, it is rich with character, materiality and durability—all at the heart of a magical place and experienced by visitors from around the world.
You draw inspiration from:
Collaboration and learning from others’ experiences. I like to experience and get to know people through their stories. I believe connecting to our community can enliven the human spirit and sustain us in a way we don’t comprehend or fully appreciate.
Places or things you’ve seen recently that will influence your work:
I have recently moved to the foothills west of Denver after living in and around the city for decades. Experiencing the calm and silence of nature is something that has been inspirational. I have found power in slowing my pace to be fully present in life and work.
Tell us something about yourself that is not in your bio:
In the early 2000s both my wife and I quit our jobs to move to Brazil for as long as our visas would allow. We learned Portuguese and traveled around South America with Copacabana beach as our home base. We experienced wonderful places, foods and people and grew to appreciate the diversity of values and culture. We hope to return one day soon with our three children in tow.
Favorite part of being an architect:
Being around people and a portion of society that cares about growth, beauty, strength and the betterment of our communities.
Best advice you’ve received and would like to pass along:
Find someone you respect and admire and follow them. Do what they are doing.
A piece of wisdom you’d like to share:
Always be humble and curious and at the same time, learn to teach. Teach about what you love and are passionate about and others will listen and learn.
What does the future of architecture look like?
The world is changing at an incredible rate. Our access to technology, information and understanding is continually evolving. Generations to come will experience the pros and cons of this influx. Distillation will become the opportunity and the challenge. How does your environment and space give you the filters you desire and need? Where do you escape to and how does architecture facilitate that escape, that decompression, that relief? In the simplest terms I see architecture as container and filter. I see filter becoming more prevalent.