“Innocence, some ignorance, and youthful daring moved us to explore the unprecedented.” ~ Tician Papachristou
Architect Tician Papachristou passed away on June 18, 2018 in Sheffield, Massachusetts at the age of 90. Boulder’s architecture scene regards Papachristou with enormous fondness and respect, and considers him as “the one who got away.” Before moving to New York in 1965 to work with legendary architect Marcel Breuer, Papachristou practiced architecture in Boulder, where he led the charge in facilitating pivotal change to its architectural landscape.
Papachristou arrived on the Boulder scene in 1954, when the city was small and bustling with a creative, sophisticated, and experimental population. Led largely by university faculty, this group of progressive Boulderites was naturally drawn to modern and avant-garde design.
During the mid-to-late 1950s, modern architecture in Boulder was diverse with inspiration drawn from all architectural corners. According to Papachristou’s observations, “we had our organic, earthy Wright/Goff school, we had our flat-roof Miesian purists, and of course the usual large share of the banal subdivision stylists.”
Papachristou wasted no time in joining the fray and making his mark in Boulder. By the time he was 30, he’d designed over a dozen residential homes. Some of his most notable Boulder structures are the Sampson-Wood House on King Avenue (1958), the paired Jesser and Sirotkin Houses in the Flagstaff neighborhood (1960), and the Thomas II House in Pine Brook Hills (1966).
Last year, the Sampson-Wood House, landmarked in 2016 by then-owner Bill Wood, was put on the market for the first time in 40 years. A bidding war ensued and the property eventually sold for $225,000 over the list price, a testimony to Papachristou’s enduring architectural legacy.
The new owners of the Sampson-Wood House reached out to Papachristou, hoping to learn as much as possible about the architecture and his thoughts on updates they were considering. He happily shared his love for the home, noting that it was one of his favorite designs. Inquiring if the bold yellow paint was the original choice, he confirmed it was—and even offered to assist them with choosing a new color.
Papachristou’s passion for design and his warm, inviting nature will be missed. Thankfully, his architectural legacy will continue to remind us of a time when, in his own words, “youth prevailed and all was excitement and beauty.”