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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

Parker Adventist Hospital MOB Celebrates Topping Out

The Parker Adventist Hospital MOB recently celebrated its topping out. The construction team, client representatives, and design team members, including Kevin Gould, RTA Architect’s principal in charge and Dr. Howard Ellis of MED Development were on site to sign the beam and unfurl the flag. The building will accommodate multiple medical practices and expanded services for the Parker community.

The project is slated for completion in 2021. Learn more here

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Drone Footage Shows Off the Nearly Completed Lake City Community School

The Lake City Community School is months away from completion! During a recent site visit, Construction Administrator Darren Rouse got a great bird’s eye view of the progress using his drone. The footage he captured highlights the renovated facility and stunning views. The Lake City school will serve over a hundred students upon completion. We are excited to be bringing this project to a close!

Click here to learn more about how the school will provide a safer and improved learning environment for students.

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Adaptive Sport Center Celebrates First Anniversary of the Kelsey Wright Building

Last July we celebrated the grand opening a one-of-a-kind building, The Adaptive Sports Center’s Kelsey Wright Building in Crested Butte, CO.  Check out the video tour below to see ASC show off their cutting-edge facility which hosts programming and specialized equipment fitting for adaptive sports activities ranging from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to mountain biking and rock climbing in the summer. The building was named in honor of one of the program’s earliest participants, Kelsey Wright, an avid skier who fought mitochondrial disease.

Executive Director, Chris Hensley stated, “Kelsey inspired all of us to do our best and help others live their lives to the fullest.  The building that RTA created will keep Kelsey’s spirit alive by helping us to do just that.” Chris Read, Program Director of the Adaptive Sports Center noted the building is “the best piece of equipment we have ever had.” The facility now serves nearly 10,000 participants a year.

Kelsey’s family noted, “We are thrilled with the great success of the Kelsey Wright Building. It took an army of caring and dedicated people to achieve such a dream…We know that Kelsey would have been so pleased to see others have this new adventure with the Adaptive Sports Center.”               

RTA has been honored to be a part of this amazing mission. Congratulation on your one-year anniversary, Adaptive Sports Center!

Click here for more details about this great project.


ASC Kelsey Wright Building Video Tour from Adaptive Sports Center on Vimeo.

The William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center Opens

The UCCS William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center has opened its doors for clinical patients!.  A few weeks before completion, our staff got to tour this incredible project to view the results of all our hard work.

The William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center integrates medical research, performance, instruction, and patient education. Part of the building is dedicated to medical care and sports performance training, overseen by Centura Health. The other half of the building consists of UCCS lecture halls, classrooms, and specialty exercise areas, including a biomechanics lab and altitude chamber. Our staff has been honored to partner with HOK and JE Dunn to bring this City for Champions project to life. The academic side of the facility will finish later this summer in time for the start of UCCS’ academic year.

More information about this project can be found here.

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UCHealth Memorial North Cardiology Suite Expansion Completes Phase 1

The first phase in the three-part expansion of UCHealth Memorial North Cardiology Suite expansion is nearing completion with notable improvements to the iconic lobby, including a new reception and patient-check in desk. The desk was designed to serve as a ‘command center’ for security, inpatient arrivals, and visitor information. 

The remainder of the project will involve the careful shifting of various units as the Cardiology Suite is expanded and the gift shop is relocated to accommodate a Nuclear Imaging room and additional treatment rooms. Phase II began in June with projected completion for December of this year. Read more about this project here.

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RTA Promotes Six Team Members

RTA is proud to announce the promotion of six team members; two to the level of Associate Principal and four to the level of Associate. Our new Associate Principals are Mike Riggs, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Ken Gregg, AIA. Our new Associates are Jessica Massie, RA, NCIDQ, NCARB; Jon Bock, RA, NCARB; Eric Ward, RA, NCARB; and Darren Rouse, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB. Congratulations! Click here for the full press release.

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