Forum Phi takes pride in listening to clients to fulfill the high demands of the Aspen, Colo., market.
THE ASPEN, COLO., area is one of the most coveted and luxurious real estate markets in the country. For Forum Phi, the secret of its success in Aspen has been listening to clients’ unusual requests and following the definition of the company name.
“‘Phi’ is known as the golden ratio, or the golden mean,” says Steev Wilson, founding partner of Forum Phi. “In architecture, it is the key to beauty and balance. When we started our firm, we envisioned it as a forum for encouraging dialogue with our clients. We believe in fostering an environment in which the concepts of beauty and balance become benchmarks that drive our uniquely beautiful designs.”
Forum Phi tailors its projects based upon each client’s desired use, incorporating individual style and form. Then it gathers and considers all of the relevant site information, including regulations and restrictions, topography, views, prevailing winds, and solar angles.
As the design process progresses, Forum Phi thoroughly considers each element – structural, mechanical, lighting and audiovisual to ensure that the final product looks and functions the way the client desires.
“A sketched image is only architecture before we turn it into reality – that is why we develop relationships and work closely with construction teams to ensure the quality of the final product,” Wilson says. “We are experienced with the realities of construction, including product sourcing, scheduling and subcontractor management.”
Maintaining a Getaway
Being in the Aspen market, the majority of Forum Phi builds are vacation residences, which come with their own set of challenges concerning maintenance from a distance.
“We have great experience creating control systems that can shut down the house with one button and provide a high level of convenience,” Wilson says. “A four-digit temporary code can be inputted into the control system so that maids, delivery men and even houseguests can enter the residence over a pre-scheduled amount of time. A lot of these houses have expensive finishes, so it is a big headache to replace. We want to let the control system be the intuitive response for their needs.”
Forum Phi also customizes home maintenance technology for their clients, including for the current design trends of bowling alleys and large Olympic-sized lap pools and basements. They can build control systems that manage evaporation, or can heat up the pool prior to entering.
According to Wilson, the design of the homes in the Aspen market has evolved into a more refined taste, from traditional designs heavily dependent on wood and rustic decor to modern sleek finishes. More organic materials are being used, and the wood and stone design elements are done to meet modern luxury requirements.
“Growing up in the northeast I have a real sense of cold climate culture and what is possible from a design standpoint,” says Wilson, who studied architecture at Syracuse University in New York. “It becomes second nature to you as a professional, and it really becomes valuable in a market like Aspen.”
Forum Phi has experienced so much success in Aspen market that it is currently in the design phase an affordable bed-and-breakfast lodge with amenities that rival a five-star hotel.
“We are excited about opening up a new lodging option with a roof deck that offers guests beautiful views of Aspen,” Wilson says. “You can warm your hands in the fire pit as you stare up at the night sky or enjoy the peaks of the Aspen mountain ski area that are so close it’s as if you can touch them.”
The project is still under review for zoning requirements, but it shows Forum Phi’s commitment as a long-term player in the Aspen market, whether it be for residences or guests of the popular resort town.
Forum Phi further demonstrates its commitment to Aspen by giving back to the community.
The firm maintains a constant level of activity for pro-bono and discount- rate projects for charitable endeavors and is working with a number of Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit organizations in its Giving Back 2015 campaign.
The company participated in the accessibility remodel of the Challenge Aspen offices, a community center for at risk children at the Alameda Point Collaborative and the archive protection and space remodel for the Aspen Historical Society.
“We work hard and play hard, and we believe our employees should have a work life balance and a vested interest in the community,” Wilson says. “We receive a lot of pleasure working with these projects because it is part of us continuing to offer hospitality and growing our community reach and responsibility.”
It is a community outreach that may expand for 2015 and beyond as Forum Phi has its eyes set on expansion to the northeast region, and Rhode Island specifically.
“It is definitely a different market and we have to deal with the hurricane code,” Wilson says. “But we like being able to work in a different style in a different region because it showcases the diverse talent and different capabilities of this company.”