SHELTERING: Kestrel Sustainable Affordable Neighborhood, Louisville, Colorado

Kestrel is our largest project; Ozi Friedrich led its design as an employee at Humphries Poli Architects and then took a contract to complete Construction Administration after leaving to found Radix Design.  It stands as an extraordinary example of sustainable neighborhood design.

SIze:             15 buildings / 192,000 sf / 175 units
Budget:        $40 m
Completion: Late 2017
Role:            Project Architect (with Humphries Poli Architects); 
                     Construction Administration Architect (as Radix Design)

Client:          Boulder County Housing Authority

Kestrel consists of fourteen smaller buildings that are repeating instances of three designs; a single, large Senior Living building; and three further buildings that were designed separately by Barrett Studio Architects.  Barrett Studio led the master-planning effort, with strong collaboration from the entire project team.  The neighborhood plan takes a building type that typically results in a 'sea of parking' and creates a tightly threaded neighborhood on the 13-acre site.  The main streets break the development down into the scale of city blocks, while an 'alley loop' serves to  provide access and a considerable portion of the parking required for the residential buildings.  

Family-friendly apartments, accessible dwellings, and senior living units are closely knit together by a network of pedestrian paths, outdoor gathering spaces, and community gardens.  

One of the building types was nicknamed the 'carriage house' for providing its own parking, accessed off the alley.  The floating, gable-roofed element shelters the building's parking spaces.

Unit interiors offer tremendous openness for a limited square footage.  Simple, durable finishes allow the owner to lease to new tenants with a minimum of material waste.  The light-colored flooring helps to reflect daylight deeper into the units.

Throughout the development, the buildings serve to create public, social zones in the spaces around them.  Ground-floor units each have their own porch and zero-threshold entry.  The ground floor is universally designed throughout, resulting in an extraordinarily high proportion of accessible units.

The Senior Living building is the largest structure on the site.  It consists of 71 units in three stories over parking.  Each level is designed as its own 'neighborhood street', with social gathering places of varying scales.  The gathering places culminate in a double-height lobby with a fireplace.


One of the most remarkable aspects of the Kestrel project is its use of ground-source heat pumps, also known as 'geothermal', for all heating and cooling on the site.  This type of system uses the stable temperatures found deep underground to provide heat in the winter and cooling in the summer.  It is one of the most efficient systems available for heating and cooling.  It works especially well in a 'balanced' climate like Colorado's front range that requires approximately equal amounts of heating and cooling.

The system uses an 'underground forest' of wells that circulate heating and cooling water to depths of 400' below grade.  The buildings at Kestrel literally have deep roots in the Colorado soil.

Kestrel combines this tremendously efficient heating and cooling system with tightly insulated envelopes, low-E windows, and solar-ready roofs.  The idea is for the site as a whole to have the capability of going 'fossil fuel free' by installing photovoltaic cells or purchasing power from renewable sources.  No gas pipe was installed on the site - immediately saving back some of the cost associated with the geothermal system.