To honor JOHNSON NATHAN STROHE Founder Jim Johnson as he retires this year, we reminisced on some of his favorite projects throughout his 43-year career in architecture. Check out some of his most memorable projects in Denver and beyond.
Early in his career, between 1975 and 1976, Jim Johnson (an avid skier!) designed landscape special effects for I-70 over Vail Pass. To this day, he considers it one of his most meaningful projects. Completed in 1978, Vail Pass was deemed a marvel of design and construction with innovative features like the use of a creative rock blasting technique, erosion-resistant landscaping, the state’s first separated bicycle path over a mountain pass and the first solar-heated rest area in Colorado.
Kingdom Park Sports Pavilion in Breckenridge
After graduating from University of Colorado Boulder in 1978, Jim’s first landmark project was the Kingdom Park Sports Pavilion in Breckenridge. Today, it serves as a gathering place for sports and community, offering outdoor amenities including multiple baseball fields.
Victorian Style Residence
Over the course of his career, Jim worked on a variety of projects, including single-family homes. Completed in 1984, this residence’s contemporary design incorporates a Victorian influence that seamlessly blends with the neighborhood’s modest brick houses and historic structures.
Aviara Golf Club
Jim’s architectural legacy extends well beyond Colorado. The world-class Aviara Golf Club was designed in the indigenous mission style, overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon nature preserve in Carlsbad, California. The two-story, 30,000-square-foot clubhouse includes social and dining spaces on the upper level and golf-specific functions below.
Palomino Park Resort
Completed in 1996, the Palomino Park Resort’s contemporary design blends a prairie-style flair with a Colorado feel. Located in Highlands Ranch, the clubhouse features thoughtful amenities, including a health club, cafe and bar, children’s area, resort size pool and spa, and a leasing center for an 1,800-home apartment village.
Bradburn Row Townhomes
Completed in 2002, the Bradburn Row Townhomes was JNS’ first large-scale multifamily project. The project was designed in a new-urbanist paradigm focused on pedestrian scale. Very successful from its onset, the 3-story townhomes are larger than most rental offerings, with design details rooted in Victorian character.
Hotel Monaco Denver
Hotel projects like Hotel Monaco Denver hold a special place in Jim’s heart as he reflects on decades of hospitality design. Completed in 1999, the former Railway Exchange Building and the Art Modern Title Company Building were combined to create Denver’s first truly boutique hotel.
Jack Kerouac Lots
Opened in 2005, the design of the Jack Kerouac Lofts incorporates the free spirit and Bohemian lifestyle of beatnik author Jack Kerouac. To capture the sense of freedom and discovery, the units were designed with high ceilings – some soaring as high as 26 feet – and tall windows with panoramic views. This meaningful placemaking project was completed with the help of famed Denver preservationist, Dana Crawford of Urban Neighborhoods, Inc.
Observatory Park Residence
While Jim is recognized for designing some of Colorado’s most significant structures, one of his most memorable projects as an architect was designing this elegant Observatory Park residence. Completed in 1999, this home’s design transformed a 1940s bungalow into a charming historic residence.
Water Tower Village
Located adjacent to the historic Olde Town Arvada, Water Tower Village provides a pedestrian-focused and contextually inspired community featuring 270 residences. Completed in 2007, this remains one of Jim’s favorite projects, having transformed deteriorating buildings into a safe, active community with direct access to Olde Town.
When it was built in 1892, the Equitable Building was Denver’s tallest building and the first to use electric light, symbolizing the city’s thriving financial district. This building was also home to JOHNSON NATHAN STROHE’s downtown office for 13 years and was our first AIA Award of Merit for Design.
St. Regis Residence Club in downtown Aspen
Completed in 2004, the St. Regis Residence Club in downtown Aspen included a conversion of 90 hotel rooms into 25 comfortable and inviting residential units. The 15,000-square-foot Remède Spa brings the luxury of a hotel to these residences, creating the perfect ambience to unwind.
According to Jim, some of the most fulfilling moments in his career included working with organizations like Brent’s Place and the National Sports Center for the Disabled. In 2017, our team completed the second phase of Brent’s Place, which allows the organization to provide more space for the many Rocky Mountain region families who must travel far from home to receive cancer-related treatment for their children.
Block 32 RiNo
Our award-winning design for Block 32 at RiNo reflects the innovative, creative and industrial nature of its dynamic neighborhood. The bold color scheme was inspired by adjacent rail lines and the surrounding River North Arts District, creating a vibrant building against an urban backdrop.
Hyland Hills Golf Course
The Hyland Hills Golf Clubhouse project included the renovation and major addition of the clubhouse. Amenities include a golfer’s grill, banquet space, pro shop, dressing areas, and exterior golfer’s relaxation experience. An interior/exterior relationship was established with the use of natural materials, generous glazing and a large patio.
Garden Court at Yale Station
Beautiful design quality, sustainability and affordability define Garden Court at Yale Station. These affordable housing apartments are adjacent to a transit station, offering convenience and walkability to residents. Completed in 2016 and, Garden Court’s is Enterprise Green Community certified with a design that conserves water, encourages recycling and promotes a healthy living environment through air and natural light.
The Metro State Hotel and Learning Center for Metropolitan State University of Denver
Designed for MSU Denver, the Metro State Hotel and Learning Center is a custom SpringHill Suites and Conference Center that connects the campus to the urban context of Lower Downtown Denver. The project creates a contemporary setting for a living laboratory, designed for students studying hospitality and hotel management to gain real-world experience in the two-story learning center. In 2013, the project earned the Marriott Opening Hotel of the Year award.
Welcome to Denver’s living room! The Crawford Hotel anchors the redevelopment of Denver’s historic Union Station. This boutique hotel energizes the historic terminal and creates a destination with 112 guestrooms and 21,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. Since its completion in 2014, it has been lauded with numerous awards.
Located inside Denver’s Dairy Block, The Maven Hotel celebrates craftsmanship and the spirt of the maker – themes that resonate strongly with Denver’s history and its people. When designing this hotel, our team drew inspiration from historic industrial buildings in the surrounding LoDo neighborhood.
A high-rise, luxury condominium project in the heart of Denver’s Cherry Creek North, The Laurel opened earlier this year with 71 homes. Designed with the sophistication of a high-end resort, the building’s rooftop pool and deck boast unparalleled views with a fire pit, lounge seating and outdoor kitchen.
City Park Clubhouse
One of Jim’s fondest (and most recent) projects is the City Park Golf Clubhouse, part of the $45 million, 136-acre renovation project in Denver’s largest park. The 11,280-square-foot facility features a thoughtful, highly planned design that maximizes versatility and capitalizes on City Park’s vistas. Designed for multiple uses beyond golf, the clubhouse includes various gathering spaces designed for the public to enjoy. It is a beautiful punctuation mark as we celebrate the career of Jim Johnson.