First Impressions | the entry experience

Your home’s entry sets the tone for the rest of the space. When designing your entry, we always ask ourselves what kind of feeling we want an owner and guest to experience as they enter, and how best to capture that.

There are virtually millions of different ways to design an entry. Do you use wood, steel or glass, for instance? Is it a vestibule or does it have overhangs? Is it one large door, or two doors, maybe a pivot door? Are there windows flanking the door or a transom window above? What kind of hardware do you want to decorate the door with and how will that feel in your hand? How should the space be lit? Is there a sitting area or built-in planters to add greenery? Is there a space for package delivery?

So many questions that we ask ourselves and you to consider as we dive into the entry experience. We want to know how you live throughout the year, and how your family might be evolving over time, so that we are forward-thinking in our design. This type of thoughtful study happens throughout your home. We tailor each space to how you live, how you want to feel in your home and how to plan for the future.

Need a little inspiration? Here are some entries we’ve designed over the years…. see more on our Spaces page.

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Happy New Year!

Well that was a crazy year! As we roll into 2021 our team has been reflecting on what was, hopefully, the craziest year we’ve seen in our 40-years designing mountain homes and buildings. When we first shut down the office last spring, we were fortunate that our team was equipped with laptops, we had established project teams in place, and we transitioned quite seamlessly to remote work. We made sure to keep the lines of communication wide open, and kept in good touch with each of our teammates — not only on the work front, but also on their personal well-being. Like every office, we have numerous parents of young children; architects living/working solo at home; designers with higher-risk health concerns, and a new employee who we charged with learning our systems and way of working from their home office. It was not easy. That all said, we were fortunate to all stay healthy and productive throughout 2020.

Our work continued at quite a rigorous pace. We’ve been working with some incredible clients to create homes that reflect their personal style, compliment the way they live, embrace the natural surroundings and are smart and sustainable. Healthy homes have always been a focus for CCA, and throughout 2020 we’ve only increased this focal point. For many years, our team has centered on biophilic design and wellness; receiving several design awards acknowledging these efforts. As the world caught on to designing specifically for health, we were proud of our previous efforts to address the wellness of our buildings’ occupants.

As we dive into 2021, we know that there are challenges ahead. We are not out of the weeds yet, but we are hopeful.

We are hopeful for what is to come!

We are grateful. Grateful for all of our wonderful clients – new and old!

We are dedicated. Dedicated to our projects and our community!

We are inspired. Inspired by our beautiful natural surroundings, our wonderful clients and all they do in the world, our families supporting us, and our team.

We are humbled. Humbled by the recognition we’ve received for our work.

Thank you for following our work, supporting our business and entrusting us with designing the next generation of homes and buildings. Bring on the new year, the new decade and what is to be – a very bright future.

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Erica Delak honored in ML ‘Women in Architecture’ Awards

Proud to celebrate Erica Delak – named one of Mountain Living‘s Top Women in Architecture! A much-deserved accolade, Erica has been with CCA for over a decade and is one of the most sought-after project managers.
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Scroll to see a few of Erica’s top projects

Erica was introduced to the precision and symmetry of line drawing in a high school geometry class. During summer breaks from college, she worked on a framing crew, which helped her understand the connection between architectural drawings and actual buildings. Today, as senior project manager at Charles Cunniffe Architects, Delak enjoys meeting contractors and craftspeople on the building sites to address challenges and discuss solutions. “There are many different people on a successful team, and my goal is to understand everyone’s strengths and use them to benefit the project,” she says.

“One of the most important attributes of an architect is the ability to listen … to form a connection and really get to know the people we are designing for.”

In terms of new materials and technology freshly applied to architecture, Delak is very interested in the wellness initiative—going beyond sustainable materials and “looking at the interior environment of each home we design and how they affect our clients’ well-being.” To read the article click here.

A few of Erica’s recent projects:

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Wall Street Journal Features CCA’s Aspen Park

Aspen Park, one of our favorite projects, is featured in the Wall Street Journal today. Carrie Wells, of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate listed the home for sale for $49 million — topping the list of most expensive homes currently in the Aspen market.

The challenge began on day one, when the Florida-based owners charged us to responsibly deconstruct much of an existing house, and design a home that fused art-deco and contemporary mountain-modern design. The site provided a very narrow building envelope which necessitated the 15,000 sf of living area, be split between three floors. To access each floor, two steel and glass elevators with cascading wood staircases were seamlessly worked into the design.

The exterior design pays homage to the surrounding mountain vistas, with varying roof angles, and use of stone and wood. Massive floor to ceiling windows capture the unique views of famed Independence Pass and Aspen Mountain.

A glass pivot door opens the home, as views unfold through a window wall and clerestory windows in the great room and dining. A Jean DeMerry mosaic mural sits between two automatic doors with views captured above, with a juxtaposed art-deco fireplace.

Custom designed wood-inlay doors are seen throughout the home, to further infuse the design inspiration. The team was careful to subtly instill the inspiration in parts of the home without overdoing it. As the home cascades down the mountainside, its essence permeates the site and creates a wonderful entertaining home.

We are so proud of this project and humbled to have it featured in the Wall Street Journal. Thank you to the incredible team who dedicated their talents to this stunning home!

To read the article, click here

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Aspen City Offices Underway

After the successful completion of the LEED Gold and WELL Building certified Aspen Police Department & Housing, as well as the newly designed Snowmass Fire Station and Remodeled Basalt Fire Station, our team is working hard on the new City Offices. A quick little peek at the 500 ton Crawler Crane (1,000,000 lbs) that took the existing beam out in three sections, last weekend. Quite impressive for our small little mountain town! Thanks to all who are involved!

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PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Virginia Placer Housing

“It’s important to give back to the community that I’ve gotten so much from over the past 40 years. It makes us better people– and it makes us a better firm,” stated Charles in a recent interview with Modlar. This has been a guiding ethos for our firm, led by Charles himself. It was also the impetus for our newly constructed affordable housing project in Telluride, Colorado.

Called Virginia Placer, the project is a combination of communal living, tiny homes and apartment units; designed for Telluride’s residents who are the backbone and soul of this often unaffordable ski town. Comprised of 18 apartment units, a 46-bed Boarding House and 3 Tiny Homes, the project accommodates a mix of incomes, individuals and families. The design team balanced budget, sustainability and livability by incorporating passive solar and ventilation, ample storage, large windows, and durable and maintenance-free materials.

While we love designing luxury homes, we also find it rewarding to give back to our community by designing community-based projects. “If you have the ability to have a positive effect on your community, I think you have an obligation to do it,” says Charles.

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CCA’s Aspen Glam featured in LUXE Magazine

One of our favorite projects this year is featured in the November/December edition of LUXE Magazine. A collaboration with interior designer (and the homeowners’ daughter) Sterling McDavid, this once dated estate was transformed for Sterling’s father, real estate mogul, David McDavid into a world class retreat, complete with a state-of-art spa, floor to ceiling views, and a stunning collection of pop art. 

Pick up a copy on stands in Colorado now!

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CCA’s ACES project in Aspen Sojourner: Get Lost in the Trees at ACES

We always appreciate support from our local media, so when monthly magazine, Aspen Sojourner, decided to cover Aspen Center Environmental Studies (ACES), our pro-bono sanctuary for local wildlife and classroom for students, we were thrilled.

The feature, called Get Lost in the Trees at ACES: A new viewing platform gives a bird’s eye view of wildlife, highlights the small tree-house like structure, which sits at Hallam Lake on a 25-acre nature preserve. The two-story site allows visitors to watch resident and migrating birds and animals without scaring them away.

ACES isn’t our biggest project, but it is is one of our favorites. And, we could not have done it without the help of our community, like Hansen Construc­tion and Valley Lumber who donated the project’s labor, materials, and wood.  

Thank you again to Aspen Sojourner! To read the whole article, click here.


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CCA Named on “Best Places to Work” in the US

For the fourth year in a row, CCA was named one of a hundred “Best Places to Work in theUS” by Outside magazine. We are excited, of course, and honored to be named alongside a diverse group of companies like Young & Laramore (Indianapolis), GeoEX (San Francisco), and Bluetent (Carbondale, CO), who make a healthy office culture a point of pride.

Open to any business based in the US with over 15 permanent employees, this yearly contest is held in the spring and announced in the November issue. What exactly goes into determining winners? Entries are judged based on company policies, practices, benefits and demographics. In light of this distinction, our Marketing Director, Rebecca Richardson, asked some of our colleagues what makes the office culture special at CCA, beyond the ‘Friday Tech Talks’? Here’s what she got:




“Design comes first, always. With today’s competitive architectural market, good design sometimes gets pushed aside. Budget, schedules and local codes can often limit the design process. CCA emphasizes good design as integral and consistent from beginning to end, which is evidenced in our projects.” Jim Kehoe, Senior Project Architect


“Some companies tout being family-friendly, but CCA really emphasizes the importance of family time as well as time to achieve personal pursuits. CCA fully understands the value if a well-rounded and well-educated employee. I am given the ability to attend my child’s school performances as well as pursue my passion for history and art, all of which make for a better architect at the end of the day. We are all encouraged to prioritize our families and our individual interests, intellectual or out-of-doors.” Marina Skiles, Senior Project Architect


“Between composting, recycling, having a company Subaru and town bike, free bus passes, using recycled paper and soy-based inks, offering stand-up desks, healthy breakfasts, and refreshments, CCA doesn’t just talk-the-talk. As an industry, the architectural profession is very paper dependent, but CCA does its best to have an environmentally responsible and healthy office.” Toni Bradford, Executive Manager






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The American Institute of Architects Elevates Charles Cunniffe to Fellowship

CCA is pleased to announce that Charles Cunniffe was elevated to the prestigious AIA College of Fellows. Charles received this honor as recognition of his exemplary career, which has had a broad impact on the profession. Fewer than 3% of members hold this distinction.

Election to the AIA’s College of Fellows is the highest individual honors the Institute bestows on members. “The Fellowship program acknowledges those architects who have made an extraordinary contribution to the profession and to society,” said AIA Colorado Executive Vice President/CEO Cathy Rosset. “Each of these individuals has helped to transform the practice of architecture through community collaboration, solid management and creative problem solving.”

A proponent of the arts, education and quality affordable housing, Charles helped to found Jazz Aspen Snowmass and Telluride’s Sheridan Arts Foundation, recently completed Telluride’s Town Park Stage, and has designed affordable housing projects in Aspen, Snowmass and Telluride. In addition, he and CCA are designing the new Aspen Police Department and Aspen City Hall, and restoring the historic Ouray County Courthouse. CCA is also working on the new Snowmass Wildcat Fire Station and the Basalt Fire Station, after the successful completion of the Mountain Rescue Aspen facility. He recently finished a 15,000 sf LEED Silver residence in Aspen, and has a long history of designing award-winning luxury homes and remodels throughout the nation.

Charles is currently working pro-bono on a number of community non-profit projects such as River Bridge Regional Center and Theatre Aspen in the Roaring Fork Valley. Always giving back to the profession, Charles was the elected AIA Colorado West President in 2014 and 2016, and sits on numerous non-profit boards including his role as the Elected Trustee of Colorado Mountain College.

CCA has been widely recognized for both design and community service, as recipient of AIA’s Firm of the Year, Community Service by an Architect and Mentor of the Year awards, along with Aspen’s Business of the Year and many AIA awards for design. CCA has also been named on OUTSIDE Magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work” for three years  in a row.

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