For Renée del Gaudio, AIA and founder of Renée del Gaudio Architecture in Boulder, winning AIA Colorado Design Awards not only validated her work, but they also served as great advertising for her one-woman shop.

Renee del GaudioAs a sole proprietor, del Gaudio does not spend her time or resources on marketing. Instead, she focuses on design and lets the work speak for itself. She describes her unique design point of view as a reaction to the architecture that surrounded her as a graduate student in the Pacific Northwest.

“What I was seeing when I was in graduate school in Seattle was architecture with a strong sense of place, this inspired me to think about what regional modern architecture could be in Colorado,” said del Gaudio.

The mountain landscape is what originally drew del Gaudio to the Centennial State, and it continues to influence each of her projects. She focuses on creating architecture that feels like it belongs in Colorado because it is directly linked to the environment, the culture, the climate and the context.

And though she’s received acclaim for this approach, she insists she’s not the only one looking at architecture through this lens.

“I think we are actually seeing a lot of momentum in this place-based architecture movement— especially in the mountain west,” del Gaudio said. “We are seeing architects commit to sustainability, using local materials and promoting craftsmen, and it gives us a sense of place.”

In fact, her 2017 AIA Colorado Design Excellence Award-winning project—Big Cabin | Little Cabin—was noted by the jury for being particularly well-integrated with the surrounding environment.

“Being recognized by my peers and these stellar jury committees that AIA puts together is confirmation that I am on the right track and doing good work that my peers respect,” said del Gaudio. “It means the world to me.”

Beyond the affirmation, receiving the 2017 AIA Colorado Design Excellence Award, the 2015 AIA Colorado North Award and AIA Colorado statewide awards in 2013 have had huge impacts on del Gaudio’s business.

“Clients think it’s wonderful to be working with somebody who is recognized across the state by such an important organization. It’s given me incredible credibility at so many levels and given the level of work that’s happening in Colorado right now, it is very exciting,” said del Gaudio.

As a small firm, it was especially meaningful to del Gaudio to be recognized alongside larger projects from much larger firms. She remembers being very proud that she was able to create award-winning projects, despite having fewer resources than many of the other firms that were honored.

She knew she was a small fish in a big pond when she submitted her project for a design award, but for her, it was incredibly worthwhile.

“To me the awards are a wonderful way to get your name out there without a huge marketing budget, so I think the effort of submitting is worth every penny and minute,” del Gaudio said.

Following her awards in 2013, del Gaudio’s work was published in both local and national media, including Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, dwell, 5280 Home and The Wall Street Journal. This recognition has led to a broader client base and confirmation that her designs are relevant on a national scale.

“Plus, the awards gala is really fun!” del Gaudio said. “It’s a great opportunity to see what’s happening across the state, to feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself and be connected to your peers—especially for someone like me who works by myself.”