“When I realized I wouldn’t be an Olympian, I became an architect,” said Pepper. “I’ve always been active in sports, so the profession of architecture provides a lot of similar aspects for me—the immense amount of hard work and careful attention that is required before we begin to see results.”
Despite it being his dream, Pepper didn’t pursue architecture until later than most. But when he graduated from CU Denver in 2015, he quickly made up for lost time.
“As soon as I graduated, I went to Leadville for three weeks to do a design build project, and then five days later my daughter was born. Two weeks later I started my job at [au]workshop,” said Pepper.
Based in Fort Collins, Pepper has found the perfect fit at [au]workshop, whose name is an acronym for “architects and urbanists.” There, he works on projects of all different scales—from large mixed-use properties to the recently completed Butterfly Café in Downtown Fort Collins—which allows Pepper and his colleagues to make a real difference for the fast-growing Fort Collins community. In fact, they are the on-call architects for the City of Fort Collins.
“When I was younger I saw how architecture could shape communities and the places we live,” said Pepper of his original interest in architecture.
Still relatively new to the profession, Pepper holds on to his enthusiasm for architecture, which is evident in the way he talks about his experience. Though he describes every project as challenging in different ways, he is excited by the diversity of building types he gets to design. Currently, he is working on a hospitality project in Honolulu, an opportunity quite different than most buildings in Northern Colorado.
“Architecture allows us to interpret the world around us, as it is seen through our own experiences, beliefs and values. Those experiences shape us, and as architects, we can take those experiences and put them to use in our buildings,” he said.
That’s why Pepper is excited by the future of architecture and embraces changes, including adapting technology and its potential to enable architects to design cities that are more resilient and sustainable.
“We’re a consumption-heavy industry,” explained Pepper “But if we can use technology to improve the cities in which we live, design and build in a way that ensures they last—that’s better for all of us.”
To Pepper, being an architect comes with a lot of responsibility, which is the reason he volunteers on the AIA Colorado Board of Directors.
“I wanted to advocate for the profession and bring awareness to the importance that architects play in our communities,” he said. Pepper also offers a unique and important perspective, as he is not yet licensed.
When he is not designing or passionately championing architecture, Pepper enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and new son exploring the mountains skiing, hiking, and enjoying everything they have to offer. He is an Olympian at heart, after all.