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Osmosis soaks in two milestones


August 14, 2019 | View PDF

Courtesy photo Osmosis Art and Architecture employees (front left to right) Maria Wells, Architectural Designer, owner Anne Postle, Tucker Huey, Project Manager, (back left to right) Katie Kessler, Architectural Designer, Michelle Henzel, Office Manager and Jennifer Nusz, Project Manager.

Thirty years ago, Anne Postle was new to her career and a transplant to Colorado. Moving from Tempe, Ariz., after finishing her education at Arizona State University and becoming a licensed architect, she journeyed to Boulder to work for a large firm. She got her feet under her and after five years was ready to start her own firm.

“Sometimes I look back and think, ‘How on earth did I ever think I could run a gallery or open my own firm?’” Postle said. “I honestly don’t know. I think that sometimes when you’re younger and you have these dreams, you just go for it. I’ve never regretted it, that’s for sure.”

Her search for office space brought her to Niwot, where Postle’s architecture business first settled in a leased space. In 2004 Postle bought the property at 290 2nd Avenue, where Osmosis thrives today. Osmosis Art and Architecture has become a fixture of fancy and steadfastness in Niwot and this year is celebrating its 25-year anniversary.  

Originally a church, then a home, now Osmosis, the red brick building’s lines are tidy, but onlookers’ eyes can’t help but wander to the whimsy that adorns the yard. Terra cotta birds sit atop metal posts, a steel woman looks up at a kite in a tree, and cairns of stacked blown glass fuse with the plant life. It’s the perfect entrée to what the business has become – a merger of architecture with art.

Postle said, “We are one of the new models for retail where it’s retail that’s also supported by a service business, so that you can weather the ups and downs of the shopping economy because you have a steady business that also brings in a revenue stream.”

With a business model aimed at predominantly designing residential buildings, the firm is comprised of eight mostly longtime employees.

“Everyone in our office absolutely loves figuring out ways to create solutions that make housing better for the people who live there,” Postle said.

Lately much of the work is leaning toward making housing more affordable for younger buyers. That means smaller, more efficient, sometimes high-density and attached buildings.

Projects include remodels, where the homes are taken back to the studs, additions, and new construction. At any one time, there are up to ten projects in the works, all at different stages. The award winning firm works directly with clients creating custom homes, and oftentimes works with home builders. Osmosis architects work in a wide range of styles and homes built for individuals become “a portrait of the homeowner.” 

The art gallery was an idea that came in the midst of the 2008 economic recession. The owner of a neighboring frame store and art gallery which was closing approached Postle to let her know that many of his exhibiting artists wished they could continue to display their pieces in Niwot. This year marks 10 years of Osmosis Art being under the same roof as the architecture firm.

“It wasn’t the smartest business decision,” Postle said of the gallery’s 2009 launch, “because at the time, the only business doing worse than architecture was art. But we did it and we hung on by our fingernails and it was a good business for the town because it brought people in and gave people who visited Niwot a place to wander.”

Being surrounded by art on a daily basis provides a creative and inspiring environment for the architects. Curious shoppers stopping in also enhance their work days, Postle said.  

A rotating display of pieces from more than 50 different artists, most from Colorado, fill the gallery and in recent years, smaller gift items have been added.

Community involvement is second nature to everyone at the business and has become its hallmark. As founders of the Niwot Cultural Arts Association’s Let’s Wine About Winter, First Friday Art Walk, and the annual Why Not Niwot? Juried Art Show, board members Postle and office manager Michelle Henzel are busy year-round organizing and promoting each event.

Postle also serves on the Niwot Local Improvement District (LID) Advisory Committee.

The firm also donated the architecture needed for the Niwot Children’s Park restroom building, the sidewalk bump out in front of Old Oak Coffeehouse, and the concessions building now in the works for Whistle Stop Park. The Niwot Monument sign on Highway 119 was also designed by Osmosis.

Postle said there are future plans for the art segment of her business, but they are fluid. She would love for Niwot to have an art co-op and teaching space. “We see the potential that Niwot has. I hope we’ve reached a tipping point and that it’s time now for things to move in a positive direction.”



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