By Lisa Marshall, Special to the Rocky
Friday, August 29, 2008
For more than 40 years, Glenn Monigle has spent his days creating business environments that best reflect the unique personalities of Fortune 500 companies.
From the bold red at the Avis Car Rental counter to the whimsical purple at T-Mobile stores, Denver-based Monigle Associates - the country's largest independent corporate branding and design firm - played a hand in what you see when you walk in the door.
So when it came time for Monigle to create his own environment, a glorious 10,500-square-foot estate tucked into an urban forest just moments from downtown, he left nothing to chance. He painstakingly chose the architect, closely collaborated on the design and selected each finish with his trademark precision.
"Everything that is done in our homes is there to satisfy all the aesthetic values that are embedded in us," says Monigle, 77, whose home recently won an Architect's Choice Award from the Denver Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. "We wanted a home that reflects our interest in sophisticated architecture."
Walk through the house he shares with wife Lynn, 77, and you also find a reflection of the couple's affinity for contemporary art, Glenn's appreciation for music and gardening and Lynn's love of bright, cheerful colors. You also discover a unique floor plan aimed at bathing each room in natural light and offering those inside a glorious view of the towering blue spruce, linden, black walnut and sugar maple trees surrounding it.
"Here we are in the middle of the city and it looks like you're looking out into the forest," says Lynn, walking a visitor through a main-floor corridor that feels a lot like a walk in the woods.
The couple left their home on 3 acres in Genesee two years ago for a 1-acre property in the 60-year-old Belcaro Park neighborhood, just blocks from the historic Phipps Mansion. Glenn wanted a home closer to the office; Lynn wanted the same woodsy feel they'd had in their mountain home. Enter architect Sears Barrett, handpicked for his reputation for creating light-filled spaces. He created a home with floor-to-ceiling windows that weave through the trees.
"We wanted to open every major living space on the main floor to this garden," Barrett says.
Adds Monigle, an avid gardener: "The trees dictated the floor plan."
Not one of the lot's 150 trees was felled during construction. Instead, great pains were taken to transplant the few that were in the way, and an extra 75 were hauled in and planted.
In an area graced with older brick homes and opinionated neighbors, the newcomers brought in truckloads of hand- chiseled Texas cream limestone to create a contemporary exterior that still blends well with the surrounding houses. On the inside, they indulged their taste for the ultra-modern.
The home's entryway is its crowning glory. Set at the joint of the 45-degree angle that shapes the main floor, the towering glass-enclosed atrium delivers visitors a straight-ahead view of what this place is all about.
"When you walk in that front door, you see the backyard immediately, which is wonderful," Lynn says.
Head left and you find sleek contemporary bedrooms adorned with golden anegre wood cabinetry, pulled from the rain forests of Africa.
Head right and you find a cheerful living room, graced with a purple couch, whimsical paintings by Denver artist Dale Chisman and an artistic fireplace custom- crafted with granite and steel.
"My big thing is reading, so I spend a lot of time in here," Lynn says of the sleek black granite and anegre library. The cherrywood Bulthaup kitchen was shipped from Germany, a country known for its exquisite craftsmanship. In the adjacent family room rests a fire-engine-red couch, another nod to Lynn's love of bright colors.
Downstairs is a workout studio that has served as rehab through Glenn's various skiing injuries. (He still loves to ski bumps.) "Whenever we break a leg, we end up down there," he jokes.
Then there's Glenn's piano collection: He taught himself to play in his 60s. When it came time to pick out a piano, he brought a concert pianist from the Juilliard School shopping with him to ensure he got just the right one. Now he has four, including a black concert-grand Steinway and a 1908 C. Bechstein from Germany.
"It's great therapy," he says, sitting down to play a few bars of Rachmaninoff.
Such calculated decision-making and attention to detail made him a pleasure to work with, says architect Barrett. And in the end, that kind of collaboration yields great results.
In 2005, shortly after the home was completed, the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver recognized the Monigles' new home with its prestigious BAR Award for the best custom house in Colorado.
"Glenn is a very precise and disciplined guy, and he has a very well-trained eye," Barrett says. "Most architects will tell you that the quality of their work is intimately connected with the quality of the client. In this case, the client was a wonderful, informed collaborator."