Boulder, CO is mostly known for its breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, year-round outdoor activities, and its many top-rated restaurants and breweries. One of its most overlooked aspects however, is its interesting architectural history.
In this article, we’ll shine the spotlight on some of the most impressive architectural marvels you can spot around town:
University of Colorado Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder campus is without a doubt, the most iconic piece of the city’s rich architectural history. “Old Main,” the campus’s very first building, was followed by several eclectic styles in the decades following its construction in 1876.
In 1918, George Norlin, the President of the university, decided the campus needed a new look, as it lacked visual cohesiveness. Charles Klauder, from the Philadelphia-based firm Day and Klauder, was hired the following year to oversee the new plan. Klauder developed his own style for the campus, designing 15 buildings while incorporating older structures including Old Main and the 1894 Hale Science Building into the campus plan.
Since its inclusion in the list of National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s, the Chautauqua grounds have enforced very strict rules for the construction of new buildings within the property.
The site features over a hundred cottages, some of which are privately owned, while some are owned by the Colorado Chautauqua Association. With the established architectural guidelines, all of the structures blend seamlessly together, creating a charming old-world atmosphere. Many of the buildings here feature small “lookout towers” which give them a distinct touch. The broad faces of wood and brick also serve as a nice contrast to the framework which features mostly lighter colors.
Mapleton Historic District
Located north of downtown Boulder, Mapleton Historic District features a number of vintage homes that exude plenty of character. Many of the properties in the district were constructed between 1895 and 1910, and most have a Victorian style with expansive lawns and porches.
Owners of historic houses in the district are allowed tax credits along with preservation grant money which go towards the maintenance of their home’s condition.
While Williams Village is part of the University of Colorado Boulder, the towers are not located on the main campus and features a style separate from the terra cotta and sandstone formula used in other structures.
After Charles Klauder passed away in 1938, Trautwein & Howard, the successors to his firm, used a simpler, more formal style compared to Klauder’s original vision, which can be seen in buildings like the Waldenburg Health Center and the Cheyenne-Arapahoe dormitory. This led to a more diverse architectural style, resulting in buildings such as Williams Village and the engineering quad. Although these two buildings have their own architectural merit, they are often criticized for having a visual style different from most of the buildings in the University of Colorado Boulder campus as well as the city of Boulder in general.