Michael Piché has plenty of time to imagine his dream house — he’s still in his 30s. But already he’s clear about aspects of the design.
“I would build something very simple and modern that has a seamless connection to the outdoors,” he said.
With stunning results, Piché (EnvDes’01) has done just this for many other people. Named Colorado Young Architect of the Year by the American Institute of Architects in 2013, he’s a principal at Aspen-based Studio B, an architectural firm specializing in sleek residences and public buildings, such as schools and churches. One of Piché’s signature projects is the dazzling Linear House, a private home near Aspen.
“Good design takes time and thought and reflection,” he said in March over a cup of coffee at Common Grounds, a hipster coffee house in Denver’s Sunny-side neighborhood.
Piché spends a lot of time on the sites where his buildings go, studying the views, the setting, the seasons, the sunlight. He always aims to blend indoors and outdoors and match the materials with the natural surroundings.
“Sunlight is incredible and important on a number of levels,” he says. “To bring it inside, and also to protect the house from it."
Piché had come to Sunnyside this day because the firm was building a private residence there — one that would blend with the nearby bungalows on the outside while providing for an internal courtyard open to the heavens. A preoccupation with the outdoors makes sense for an architect from Colorado, and Piché is as Colorado as craft beer. Born in Colorado Springs, he moved to Boulder in his teens, captained the football team at Boulder High as a strong safety, then earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental design at CU-Boulder. After CU he spent a year of R&R along Aspen’s slopes and streams, then pursued a graduate degree in architecture at the University of Michigan. He returned to Aspen in 2004, joining Studio B as a designer. Within a decade, he’d been hailed as one of the greats in the state.
“Looking forward to the rest of your career,” one AIA judge wrote.
Two years ago Piché returned to Boulder to open a satellite Studio B office. He lives in an apartment in north Boulder, walking distance from the office.
When eventually he builds a home of his own, he’ll have an especially able thought-partner at hand: Three years ago he married grad school sweetheart and fellow architect Amanda Christianson.
“We talk a lot about design,” Piché said.
Photos: Derek Skalko (house); headshot courtesy Michael Piché