Christopher Herr, Brad Tomecek  
Studio H:T

By Ingrid Spencer

When Christopher Herr and Brad Tomecek met at the University of Florida, Gainesville, they discovered a serious difference between them: Herr had a degree in classical French horn, and Tomecek played guitar and was going through a heavy-metal phase. But the two, who were pursuing M.Arch. degrees, didn’t let that musical disparity override their shared philosophy about architecture and design. Now coprincipals of five-year-old Boulder, Colorado—based firm Studio H:T, they operate with what Tomecek calls “the ping-pong effect.” “Design, for us, is so much about the process and the conversation,” he says. “Our firm is very collaborative, and we find that we always get farther, faster because of the back and forth — the energy flow.”

Box House, Boulder, Colo., 2005
Photo courtesy Studio H:T
Box House, Boulder, Colo., 2005

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With a furniture showroom and several residences completed — including multifamily units — several regional AIA awards, and a handful of residential and commercial projects on the boards, the firm is finding farther and faster is what keeps them busy and challenged. They’re also quite proud of their work with the University of Colorado, Denver, where they co-taught an advanced design-build studio that recently completed two pavilions made of salvaged and donated materials for an urban farm and agricultural education group.

The architects enjoy working with students because it was through their own experience as students that they acquired a love of design. Herr, a Colorado native, came to architecture via music: from the French horn into the world of acoustics, then on to a larger study of design. He moved to Florida to study under acclaimed acoustics professor Gary Siebein. Tomecek, who is from Orlando, followed a more straightforward path into the realm of architecture. “I was always drawing things that I wanted to make,” he says. “My earliest memory of architectural styles was on a visit to Disney World. It wasn’t until many years later that my education would reveal the climate, materials, and cultures that informed the regionalism and character of those places.” His childhood got him thinking about the built environment, and he’s never stopped. “The experience of place, how you move through spaces, and creating memorable places, that’s my interest,” he says.

Herr moved back to Colorado and “pursued the struggle” as he says, finishing his thesis, rock climbing, bartending, and playing the French horn. Tomecek came to visit and stayed. They each worked for various respected Colorado firms, and they continued their conversations about architecture, eventually sharing an office space to pursue individual projects. Then they took the plunge and created Studio H:T in 2005. Now a team of five, Herr and Tomecek say they are excited about new building technologies and committed to finding new ways to apply them. They recently completed a LEED Platinum house that uses a German eco-panel system, as well as a house made of shipping containers, but they’re not eager to be pigeonholed. “I don’t know that I want to be an ‘ist,’ ” says Herr. “If I must be, I suppose I’m a ‘situationist.’ ” Tomecek goes further. “We’re excited about modular, but we don’t want to be known as the ‘modular guys’ or the ‘German-panel guys,’ ” he says. They feel the same way about issues of sustainability. “Sustainability is just about being ethical,” says Herr. “It’s a given that we would design that way. It doesn’t come from a bag of tricks.” Tomecek agrees, and ping-pongs back, “You get good at what you practice.” 

PRINCIPALS: Christopher Herr, Brad Tomecek
LOCATION: Boulder, Colorado
EDUCATION: Herr: San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, Bachelor of Music, 1992;
University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., M.Arch., 1999; Tomecek: University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., B.A. Design, 1996, M.Arch., 1998
KEY COMPLETED PROJECTS: 2002 Alpine, Boulder, 2010; Shipping Container House, Nederland, Colo., 2010; 32nd Street Modular, Denver, 2007; Box House, Boulder, 2005
KEY CURRENT PROJECTS: 303 Canyon, Boulder, 2011; Broadway Granary, Boulder, 2012; Motorsports Country Club Events Center, Limon, Colo., 2012

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