Welcome to the home page of Arcadea Architecture, Inc. Located in Boulder, Colorado, Arcadea is one of the best-recognized architectural design firms in the Boulder, Denver, and Rocky Mountain Regions that provides custom residential design. We are best known for designing a lot of homes on mountain sites and a lot of remodels, but lately we’ve been doing an equal number of commercial tenant finish projects and multi-family residential projects.

In addition to our expertise in architectural and interior design of custom homes, custom home remodeling projects, and multi-family residential projects, we also have experience in mixed-use, retail, commercial, commercial interior/ tenant finish, and office projects. With our office partner firm, Studio Architecture (formerly The Studio at Morgan Creek), with whom we have shared office space, we have further expanded our capabilities in elderly housing, assisted living, memory care and affordable multi-family housing, as well as a deeper portfolio of mixed-use urban infill projects.

We offer a flexible service, but we are set up to provide thoroughness, which can often save our clients more than the total of our fees. Our full services typically include 3D modeling, interior design, lighting design, cost control, and construction oversight. There is more information about this in the Process and Cost Control sections of this site. We have recently also become well known for our innovative cost estimating and cost management systems, with builders coming to us for estimating advice. Please feel free to view our architectural and interiors projects, including a fairly extensive collection of photographs of our work.

Arcadea Architecture’s beautifully creative, integrated designs have won wide acclaim in regional and national publications, such as Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, Colorado Homes and Lifestyles Magazine, Living West Magazine, Remodeling Ideas Magazine, as well as the Rocky Mountain News and Yellow Scene. We have also had one of our projects featured on the Discovery Channel.

We use renewable and sustainable resources as much as possible, and always examine the environmental impacts on the local landscape. Although we are very design oriented architects, we also focus on the details and provide very thorough sets of construction documents and specifications. Our process includes rigorous cost management. We utilize 3D modeling programs for a holistic approach to design, and also to involve our clients in the design process. We often make hand-sketched drawings over pictures of 3D models. This process is essential to effectively design 3-dimensional structures. 2D drawings are just too abstract, and models help our clients to better understand our designs and allow them to give us better feedback. These are very useful for contractors and trades people during bidding and construction, as well. Besides this enhanced communication of ideas, we can better solve difficult architectural geometry problems. We have found that 3D modeling is an affordable alternative to cardboard models and that the process allows for multiple options to be tested and high-quality images to be rapidly produced.

Arcadea Architecture’s relatively small size allows us to provide a high level of service and responsiveness to our clients. Each site, each client, and each project gets personal attention from our principal, David Biek, and a unique solution. A cost control program is specialized and revised for each project. We bring in outside architects on a contract basis or utilize our office partner’s if we need to take on projects that are larger than our in-house team can easily manage.

Our name, ARCADEA, is a contraction of ARCHITECTURAL IDEA; the idea is the unifying element of design. It also relates to ARCADIA: a setting of idyllic simplicity, a rustic mountain utopia in ancient Greece. This is also suggestive of where we are located in Boulder, Colorado.

Arcadea Architecture Inc.
741A Pearl St.
Boulder, Colorado 80302

Our Principal Architect, David A. Biek, has a Master in Design Studies degree from Harvard University; Bachelors of Architecture and Environmental Design Degrees with Distinction, University of Minnesota; Diploma in architectural studies, University of Tianjin.

Christopher Thorp, LEED AP, has a Masters of Architecture, University of Colorado, Denver; Bachelors Degree from the USC School of Cinema-Television.
Shane Salisbury has a Masters of Architecture and Bachelor of Architecture, Montana State University, Bozeman.
Derek Zook has a Masters of Architecture and Bachelor of Architecture, Montana State University, Bozeman.
Jeff Dawson and Marcia Weese are associated with Arcadea Architecture, but have their own independent firms, as well.

Our residential architectural design work includes: custom homes, luxury homes, modestly-priced homes, remodeled homes, second homes, and multi-family condominiums. Other work includes: commercial office, institutional office and classroom buildings, hotels, restaurant design, retail projects such as small, intensive storefronts and boutiques, movie theaters, and athletic buildings.

More about Arcadea:

Our principal, David Biek, has 30 years of professional experience (the firm is sixteen years old) designing projects nationally and internationally and many within the Boulder area. This has given him a good working knowledge of the City and County of Boulder’s Land Use Regulations and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. Our membership and involvement with the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Boulder Inc., Historic Boulder, and Habitat for Humanity give us a wide-ranging view of the various constituencies that come to bear on local projects.

The concerns of our private clients have given us insight into the pressures and sensitivities that are faced during all projects, large and small, commercial, retail and residential. David Biek is the Chair of Boulder’s Design Advisory Board and is also on the executive trio of Architects and Planners of Boulder, a group that advocates for smart land use policies.

In addition to projects in Denver and Boulder and the surrounding Denver Colorado metro area, Arcadea has worked on projects throughout the state of Colorado – in Aspen, Louisville, Greenwood Village, Gold Hill, Flagstaff Mountain (Boulder), Grand County (CO), Colorado Springs (CO), Golden (CO), Denver, Wolf Creek Valley, Telluride, Ft. Collins, Eldorado Springs, Niwot, numerous areas in rural Boulder County, and Lionshead (Vail). We have also worked on projects throughout the United States – Orlando, Gulf Breeze, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Monroe, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois, Phoenix, Arizona; Big Sky, Montana; Boston, Dorchester, Ipswich, Massachusetts; St. Paul, Minnesota; Yosemite Park, California; and internationally in Barcelona, Spain. Arcadia California is not yet one of the sites where we’ve done work, but that would be fun and interesting if Arcadea Architecture had a presence there. As it is part of our name, Arcadia is a utopian setting of idyllic simplicity in the rugged mountain areas of ancient Greece.


We want your building venture to be fun and not stressful. Our clients are often surprised by how rewarding the experience is. Creating a beautiful home that is tailored to your tastes and lifestyle can be even more wonderful than you imagine. Yes, it will require a lot of your time and energy, but if you make space in your busy schedules and view it as a pleasant adventure, we will work very hard to facilitate that positive outcome for you. Effective listening and proactive management are key.

How much is that experience worth? Our fees are usually between 8 and 12 percent of the cost of construction for full services (which are more comprehensive than the typical) but we do not base our fees on construction cost. Instead, we provide a not-to-exceed fee based on the scope of the project, and often save our clients more than this amount through effective management.

Let’s say we save you 10 to 15 percent by squeezing wasted space out of your floor plan and yet make your home feel even more spacious. Maybe we make the spaces elegant and graceful. They have a wonderful flow and they perform multiple functions. For years we have been practicing the principles popularized in the Not So Big House books. We always draw the furniture in order to accurately study the function of a space so that rooms are just the right size. This also helps us to design for your experience while using each space. What will you see when you come in the front door or walk up the stair? What will you be looking at when seated on a couch or on a bar stool?

We can save another 5 to 20 percent by making efficient use of building materials and systems and by managing the construction process carefully. Our involvement during construction provides an experienced watchful eye and heads off a lot of problems. It is hard for builders to understand design intent from drawings alone. We work closely with the people building our projects and we are good at solving problems as they arise without compromising the design.

We have invested a lot in tracking and understanding building costs, which also facilitates savings. When builders know that we will be scrutinizing every cost it helps them to run a tighter ship. Clear and complete sets of drawings and specifications are also essential in this process.

If we re-invest these savings in your project by designing nicer spaces, with nicer proportions and details, and by thinking things through intelligently, how much does that add to the value? Often 10 to 50 percent. This is where we really pay our way; not only creating a great place for you, but providing you with the best return on your investment. We also act as your advocate in the whole process, which can add peace of mind, as well.

What follows is a detailed explanation of how the process unfolds:

We usually begin with an interview in our office where we lay out how the design process works and explain our tools. Once you have decided to work with us, or at least to go on to the next step, we set up a pre-design meeting at your home or building site. Our charge for this preliminary study is usually about $1,000 and normally includes the following:

Prior to the meeting we send you a questionnaire about what you hope to accomplish in general and specific ways. We review this before we meet in order to make the best use of our collective time. Sometimes clients do not have many specific answers, but more general goals that they need guidance fleshing out. We also ask you to collect images to illustrate your ideas and we do a comprehensive search of the zoning and other constraints that will affect what can be built.

After the meeting we diagram your house in 2D with generic furniture and dimensions to help you understand how big each room will be. We then add in space for halls and walls and put together a room-by-room cost analysis based on formulas that we’ve developed to check alignment with your budget. We also put together a detailed proposal for our services including the time and cost, and provide you with our standard contract assumptions. We usually charge a fee for this preliminary study because it takes time to gather enough information to estimate accurately.

Once we sign a contract we begin conceptual design and you can be as involved in this process as you choose. Normally, we start with hand-drawn plans and a 3D computer model to help you to grasp right from the beginning how the project will look and feel. Sometimes we sketch by hand on top of model print-outs or photos. Usually our clients love our initial concepts, and they only requires a bit of tweaking. Sometimes we try a few alternatives before finalizing a design direction. Then we verify our cost assumptions again.

Next we develop this concept in greater detail with plans and a more detailed computer model that you can fly around and walk inside. This process continues until every aspect has been resolved and it virtually eliminates unpleasant surprises. Most people can’t fully understand the 3D implications of 2D drawings, and we depend on your feedback to really customize the project for you. The model also helps us to solve technical problems, especially where different materials come together or turn corners.

On some projects these models are more detailed, and we use them to study alternatives of materials and colors and construction details. Because every element in a design influences every other, it is best to judge these with each part in its place. Ideally, this includes colors, textures, materials, lighting and furniture. The 3D computer program is an indispensable tool; it also allows for a design to be easily modified, and we can make our construction drawings directly from these models. We send you the model to explore on your own so that we don’t have to meet in person as often. This really works well for long distance clients or ones with busy schedules.

The process of design is a learning experience, and as new information comes in, it is natural for changes in needs and perceptions to occur, both yours and ours. It helps that we are good at juggling complex interrelationships. We are also pretty flexible and are happy to explore different solutions.

Once our design is complete, there is still some work to document all of it so that builders and building officials can understand it. We have found ways to do this very efficiently. 3D model images help with this, too, and can often clarify design intent when questions arise and can easily be emailed to the jobsite.

During construction, we usually manage the cost by setting up budgets, comparing bids against each other and against our extensive database of costs, and checking pay requests. Much of this work is done from our office, answering questions over the phone and by email. We also visit the site at necessary intervals and meet with the subcontractors to explain the project to them. Small things done in the interest of supporting a harmonious building team go a long way toward making the process easier, better, and more fun. Managing expectations effectively is a big part of that, too. Finally, before you move in, we prepare a comprehensive list of items that the builders will need to complete before signing off on final payment.