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Chinook Trail Middle School Wins IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter BESTaward

Chinook Trail Middle School took home the BESTaward in th­­e LEARN category of the 2020 IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter awards. The middle school, designed by the joint venture of  RTA/MOA, was noted for its biophilic design focused on the health and well-being of students and staff and its dynamic project-based learning environment.  The full award ceremony and list of all winning projects can be viewed here


RTA Staff Participate in Project C.U.R.E

Interior Designer Susan Brock joined a group of board and committee members from the Denver Chapter of Women In Healthcare for an afternoon of serving at the Project C.U.R.E. warehouse operations. Together they sorted through donated medical supplies and organized them for distribution to international community clinics in need.

RTA is a proud sponsor of the Denver Chapter of Women in Healthcare.

For more information about Project C.U.R.E. and how your organization can participate, visit https://projectcure.org/denver.


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William J. Hybl Center is "First of it's kind"

The William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center at UCCS continues to make news! Check out the article in Building Design and Construction Magazine which highlights some of the features of this unique, multi-disciplinary facility.

The article notes the unique integration of collision spaces and multi-partner integration make the center  "a first-of-its-kind facility". 

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RTA Principal Brian Calhoun to Present Award-Winning Project at EDspaces

Brain Calhoun, Principal-in-Charge for the Chinook Trail Middle School project, will be speaking at this year’s EDspaces national conference about the design of this innovative school. Joining Brian will be the school’s Principal, Tom Andrew. The Chinook Trail Middle School incorporated project-based learning, design thinking, and playful biophilic elements to offer an exceptional education experience.

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Beyond the Blueprints: Architect Natalia Vladimirova

Welcome to Beyond the Blueprints, where we get to know RTA staff beyond their work lives. Join us in discovering the passions and interests of our amazing team!

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You have several unique interests from painting to physics – where did they start?

It goes back to my childhood in Russia - my father was an architect, and when I was very small, I liked to look at his drawings and the models in his office.  I thought I saw how things fit together.  I don’t know how much I really understood, but it was fun.  My Grandfather was a math teacher, and whenever I was bored, I would ask him to give me a problem to solve. That’s where my passion for math comes from.

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Natalia painting in college, photo by Michael Smetanin


I hear you dabble in painting – tell me about your painting experience?

Of course, I’ve been messing with crayons, like most of kids do, but it stuck, and I went to an afterschool art program for kids and teenagers where I did painting and drawing and a bit of sculpture.  Later, I was a member of and art club in Chicago. I loved it. If you went to a sketch session, it was both challenging and relaxing, the poses change quickly, first ones for 30 seconds, then one, five, twenty, minutes, all the way to an hour. The pace immerses you in the process of seeing and capturing what you see in same flow.  In high school I painted watercolor but later switched to oil.

How would you describe your painting style?

I would describe my arts style as something between abstract and realistic – like an impressionist. I like to express what I see, it’s not really an expression of my ideas as much as just a picture of what I see. I try to focus on painting from my feelings more, you know, but I like the problem solving it involves.

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Some of Natalia's Paintings


What degrees do you have?


I was considering studying art in a community college, but physics and math were also interesting to me so I studied that instead. In Russia, I got my undergrad degree in physics and Master in Applied Mathematics, then I had a chance to study in the United States. In the United States I earned a PH.D. in Chemical Engineering - it’s a very broad field where you learn a lot about the theory behind the inner workings of engineering as opposed to the applications. Even though my degree was in engineering, all the work I did after graduation was in the applied and computational mathematics.  I worked in that field for a while but found that it was very hard to compete for tenure-track positions in math with a degree in engineering.  Eventually I found a way to combine my interest in art, design and mathematics when I got a master’s degree in Architecture – it was like coming back to my childhood, I guess.

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City of Krasnoyarsk in Russia, where Natalia grew up


Wow! That’s a lot of degrees! What did you do with the degrees now?

I still help my friends with their research projects.   One project, with a friend in Moscow, explores the propagation of a laser light through the atmosphere. Essentially, there are lots of fluctuations in the atmosphere, and when you send a laser of light through it, the laser beam becomes scattered.  We are studying how it gets scattered and how to probe the atmosphere to see when it’s easiest to pass a signal through.  Another research project, with a friend in Israel, is quite theoretical – we are trying to analyze mathematical models for turbulence from the point of view of information theory. 

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Presentation poster from one of Natalia's research projects.


What does research look like for these topics? Are you conducting experiments?

Mostly I work with equations that describe physical models.  I either write computer codes that solve the equations or adapt a specialized software, then I run computer simulations.  Even when you have a code ready, to use it you need to understand the parameters, how to select and adjust them, and how they affect the physics and the quality of solution.  This needs not only patience, but also experience, which I am trying to pass to younger folks who are going to replace me in these projects.

Do you have any plans for another degree or continued learning?

I would like to study more and do more different things - but I can’t afford another degree and another career in terms of lifespan.  The good thing is that I don’t have to go to school to study, that there are still plenty to learn at my current job, and that there are opportunities my current field.

We have recipes for how to do things, and then there are solutions beyond the recipes.  I would love a chance to develop new techniques, tools and designs, and – if I am really lucky - to pull-in the ties from beyond. For instance, I am fascinated by the mystery or art. When and how, a functional design, like a building, becomes an art?  Some aesthetical principles have been understood and can be learned and used, some still to be discovered, but there will be something uncatchable, something that makes art art.  This is what I want to catch.

Fairview High School Honored with ENR Mountain States Award of Merit

RTA is excited to share that the Fairview High School Renovations project, completed with Adolfson & Peterson Construction in 2019, has been honored by Engineering News-Record Mountain States with a K-12 Award of Merit. The 107,000 sf renovation for the Boulder Valley School District updated the 1970’s era-building to reorganize classrooms, add a gym, revamp the admin offices and incorporate a modern auditorium. The renovations were carried out through multiple phase construction to avoid disrupting the academic year. The renovated building now serves over 2,000 students.

Fairview HS Award Collage