The Hord Coplan Macht Cool Box is a place to get to know some of the people and personalities who are delivering great ideas and leading work for our clients. In the Cool Box today: Travis Bostic, Principal, Education Studio
Did you have an “ah-ha” moment where you knew you wanted to be an architect? What was it?
I realized at a very young age that I loved building things but mainly loved taking things apart. I always wanted to do something with building. I remember the exact moment that pushed me over the edge: I was working construction with my grandfather and I was under a house, belly crawling in the crawl space, in 12-inch deep mud. He threw a crescent wrench to me that promptly hit me right above the eye, which was followed by cussing and heavy bleeding. My grandfather calmly said, “Do you really want to do this for the rest of your life? Or go to architecture school and be a part of it from a different environment?” I guess you could say it literally hit me in the face.
How does your background in architecture influence aspects of your life outside of work?
In almost every way. My wife is an architect as well so it is a constant theme outside of my work life. We are just returning from a trip to NYC where we got to take in a lot of architectural inspiration. It’s great to be able to share the love of architecture with those closest to you.
“If I couldn’t be an architect I’d probably be an…”
I would return to my previous job of coaching wakeboarding or some kind of sport. I love sports and being outdoors so if I could get a little more than I do now of both, that’s what I would want to do.
Tell us about one of your favorite projects from the last few years.
Stargate School was a really great project that we recently completed and is now back with one more project as well. Our involvement with this client has been at a depth we rarely get to, so the relationships formed and the level of problem solving is on another level. This school just came to us with a simple problem: “We are growing and want to grow smart.” After that, we started to evaluate how they could grow through programming and evaluation of their existing building. We looked at land with them and we eventually designed an entire from-scratch K-12 campus with three different buildings that were built within a little over a year. To top it all off, right now we are starting on a new performing arts center on the campus even before they have completed this first school year. To go from, “We want to grow,” to building an entire campus in around 20 months was an amazing design challenge, and to see it completed and to continue with even more work with them has been great.
Where do you find inspiration for projects?
This is one of my favorite things to do and something I get to do a lot, working in early design mostly. I love the visioning stage we do with our clients, usually in our very first meeting. Our designs thrive off of their passions and our inspirations usually come from their visions of what their project could be. That said, there are also some very inspiring sites here in Colorado, where being inspired by nature or the natural surroundings is hard to ignore. Being contextual is always a big part of our design approach – and is vital to the success of the design – especially in Higher Ed.
How would you describe your approach to tackling challenges when it comes to the client?
Listening is a big part of the early design process so asking the right questions as a team to get all of the information that we need to make a successful design is key with the client interaction that I do. Sometimes we get lucky and get a very passionate group that can articulate what they need, allowing us to just sit back a little. Most of the time, it is about being efficient with the digging and then bringing clarity and excitement to the design communication.
How would your clients describe working with you and your team?
I would hope that they would say we truly made their visions come to reality and that the design is more than they could have ever imagined. Being involved with design on several projects at once is always my ultimate goal and I try to use the collaborative approach to have it be the goal of the entire team as well. Having the entire team involved in early concept development is crucial to this buy-in and the clients reap the rewards.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to up-and-coming architects?
I used to teach design at University of Colorado so one theme I continue to give to any up-and-coming architect is to continue to hand draw and sketch. As architects, we are always thinking about problem solving from different perspectives so continuing to tackle any design challenge via the pen or computer seems like a great way to stay diverse.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
Take your time and don’t rush into architecture. Work with your hands and build more, and that will be a more important tool to becoming a good architect – maybe more than anything you will learn in school.
What aspect of Hord Coplan Macht’s approach to projects do you see really making a difference for clients?
HCM’s approach is extremely collaborative and that spills out to our clients. They feel the power of our collective intelligence and feel their ideas and concepts in our architecture. We truly focus on giving clients very functional buildings that are beautiful and inspiring as well. Inspiring students and teachers is always a big part of our approach to education projects.