NBC Olympics fake fireplace

This is maybe a bit picky, a bit too much of an architect’s complaint, but…

We have been watching the Olympics over the last few days, including the Bob Costas interviews in the “ski lodge”.  Now there is much to possibly dislike about this kind of interview, but what I can’t get past is the fireplace in the dead center of the image.  It is fake.  At least the flame is.

And what keeps bugging me is the masonry above the fireplace opening.  Come on, give us a lintel for God’s sake.  Stone or steel, or something.  I keep waiting for the large stone in the center to fall.

This kind of visually unsupported masonry is what you see all the time in bad builder houses.  Typically a steel angle is back there doing the work, holding up the masonry, but it doesn’t look right.  Unless the design is making something interesting about suspending the masonry in the air, like some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s more sculptural fireplaces or Mario Botta’s carved masonry solids, this lack of attention to details and architectonics really bugs me.

Mario Botta houses

Okay, I’ve gotten this off my chest, so now maybe my wife and girls don’t have to hear it every evening.




these are images of two computer models from two different projects (see page “variations on a theme”).

These two cut-away views are meant to demonstrate two different approaches to similar formal circumstances.  Both projects were within virtually identical existing condominium units in west Boulder, Colorado.  

The one shown above was designed to accommodate the live-work lives of the couple, opening up the office to views over and across to the living spaces of the bedroom and kitchen.  The space was conceived as a single, coherent whole, with resin panels providing some screening within the overall space.

The project shown below was for a couple who often have large, family dinners and the design was meant to clearly identify and modulate the public vs. private realms of the house.  The central stair brings light down into the center of the house as in the above project, but the space of the stair is a clearly delineated space.  The sliding louver panels modulate the light to the office, bedroom and kitchen and also register the family vs. individual use of the house at any time.

The design above was done with Amy Kirtland when I was a Principal at Arcadea, the one below was done by myself as M. Gerwing Architects


Arugula Restaurant, Boulder, interior design, in process


Construction is running full-speed at Arugula Restaurant, a small renovation project we designed in north Boulder.  Located in the former Mista/Laudisio’s space, the 70-seat restaurant features Northern Italian fare with an emphasis on lighter and healthier cooking.  


The project includes the complete deconstruction of the original space including all plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems.  The new design is a synthesis of old and new designs motifs and elements, much like the direction of the restaurant itself is a combination of old recipes and new techniques.


Chef/Owner: Alec Schuler

Architect:  M. Gerwing Architects

Graphics & Design: McGinty

Contractor: ABL Construction (Alan Lawrence, Herb Ruprecht, Randy Zahn)

Engineering: Boulder Engineering

Boulder restaurant, design and interiors

Construction will soon begin on a new restaurant fit-out project in Boulder.  The design attempts to blend and contrast new and old, traditional and modern, much as the restaurant’s food will feature old world techniques with new world ingredients, fresh approaches to traditional recipes.

Boulder home renovation, interior design and architecture

Soon to be in construction, this project is a renovation of a mid-70’s modern house in Boulder.  Originally designed by Jeffrey Abrams, this house sits on a steeply sloping site overlooking the city of Boulder.  The renovation I designed reconceptualizes the interior spaces and then folds that outward in a complete re-cladding of the exterior.

Sunshine Canyon house, architecture and interior design, progress

construction continues on the large Sunshine Canyon house.  The corrugated, weathering steel roof panels are being installed.  At the center right, you can see that they are raw steel when first installed, turning the beautiful rusty red after a few weeks as seen on the left.

With about 80% of the stone veneer installed, the house is really beginning to show its character as a series of connected stone rectangles.

interior design, renovation complete, Boulder

The renovation I designed to a small condominium has finished construction in Boulder. The central feature of this project was a new stairway designed to incorporate a series of existing light shafts. An open riser stair with maple treads lets daylight down into the house while a series of swinging and sliding louver panels modulates the light to the master bedroom, kitchen and office spaces. Below is a photo of the master bedroom hall with the louver panels in both the open and closed positions. Thanks goes to the owners for their patience and work and to Cottonwood Custom Builders for their diligence and expertise.

This project is the sister of the Davis Welsh project on my website under the Renovations link. Both units were virtually identical prior to the redesign and renovation. They now share a similar plan for the main stair, but treated quite differently. The Davis Welsh project emphasizes the permeability of light across this space, this project channels the light more vertically as a designator of circulation and public/private boundary.