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The Creators Of Aspen: John Rowland & Sarah Broughton

Andrew Travers | December 11, 2019 | People

THE ARCHITECTS : John Rowland & Sarah Broughton


In the 16 years since Sarah Broughton and John Rowland started their firm in their Aspen condo, the wife-and-husband pair have grown a team of more than 40 architects and designers, and left their fingerprints on buildings across the Mountain West. They’ve done more than 50 downtown Aspen projects, completed 20 on Aspen Skiing Company properties, opened offices in Denver and seen their star rise with legacy homes like an airy rebuild of Aspen ski legend Stein Erickson’s historic Starwood house, which won the 2019 Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Home of the Year Award.

But these days, with the arrival of their W Aspen as winter’s party central and a renovated Ajax Tavern, both at the base of Aspen Mountain, they may best be known as the architects of Aspen’s après-ski scene.

The pair—who also designed Chair 9 at the Little Nell and a face-lift at the Champagne-soaked Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro at Aspen Highlands—have demonstrated a genius for shaping après-friendly spaces.

“We had to think deeply about how the party can keep going and ensure there’s never a bottleneck,” Broughton says of shaping the flow of W and its rooftop pool bar.

Their approach is collaborative and unconventional (the firm’s spirit animal is a buffalo, bestowed upon it by a shaman) but rooted in the personal client-builder creative relationships upon which they founded the firm.

The pair’s aesthetic is contemporary but influenced by the mountains and especially by Aspen history, as reflected in their meticulous restoration of the 1888-built Mesa Store building on Main Street, where Rowland + Broughton moved its office in March. “We want to see it function for the next 100 years,” says Broughton, “and be a beacon as you enter Aspen.”


Photography by: Jamie Jaye Fletcher