Modern in Boulder: The Historical Players

October is Month of Modern in Boulder, and in honor, today we take a look back at the modern architects who have made names for themselves in the Boulder community, published in our “Modern in Boulder” feature from the archives.

11_pW_S5G3456-2Photos by Paul Winner |

Charles Haertling was perhaps the most recognized of Boulder’s mid-century modern architects, but there were many others, here, designing incredible houses and buildings in the latter part of the 20th century. 

One of Easton’s buildings, which now houses dentist’s office Boulder Smiles, at 1636 16th Street is “one of those iconic images of modern architecture right in town,” said Tomecek Studio’s Brad Tomecek. Another fine example is the Kellcourt Building at 1909 26th St. It was given Historic Boulder’s Award of Merit in 2009.

Probably Papachristou’s best-known design in Boulder is the King House (also frequently referred to as the Sampson House) at 1900 King Avenue. This Usonian-style house was designed in 1958 and its roofline resembles Frank Lloyd Wright’s New York Exhibition House from 1953.

While not a Boulder resident, Pei designed the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Mesa Laboratory. NCAR’s archives state that Pei’s appointment was a unanimous decision among the selection committee, and that his “reputation as a man who dealt easily with clients, his charm and sensitivity, his imagination in design, his experience within tight budgetary constraints (notably with the use of structural concrete) all contributed to his selection.”


Wagener’s name comes up almost as much as Haertling’s when discussing modern architecture in Boulder. Why? He designed more than 90 residences — a good example is the Labrot House at 819 6th St. Architect Cheri Belz designed a well-received addition to this house recently. Wagener also designed numerous commercial and institutional buildings, including Fairview High School, and a number of insightful additions, among them the Boulder County Courthouse and the First United Methodist Church Sanctuary.

Another huge name in Boulder’s modern architecture scene, Abels studied under Walter Gropius while attending graduate school at Harvard. Abels enjoyed a 30-plus year career, and one of his most visible projects is Meininger Art Supply, at 1135 Broadway. Two of his houses can be seen at 3100 6th St. and 525 Aurora Ave. 

Hunter designed many institutional and commercial buildings, including the Boulder Public Library, Baseline Junior High, Grace Lutheran Church and The Colorado Building, which formerly housed Joslin’s department store and is one of the few examples of international-style architecture in Boulder.

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