CU Denver Graduate Jarrett Hardy Uses Skills Learned in the Classroom to Make an Impact in Communities 

CU Denver Graduate Jarrett Hardy Uses Skills Learned in the Classroom to Make an Impact in Communities 

December 5, 2023

Jarrett Hardy discovered his passion for designing spaces—what would end up being his career trajectory—when he was in the fourth grade. His father signed him up for a summer camp at Washington University in St. Louis, not far from his hometown, where master’s students taught children the basics of drawing and building models.  

The experience opened his eyes to the scope of opportunity in the architecture industry. “From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to be,” said Hardy. “I felt so blessed to be able to say, ‘I want to be an architect.’ There was no question.” 

And now that dream is becoming a reality. At CU Denver’s fall 2023 commencement on Dec. 16, Hardy will receive his master’s in architecture from the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) and continue his career as a project coordinator at the local design-build firm, The Beck Group. 

Hardy was raised in a rural area just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. His nearest neighbor was almost a quarter mile away, which meant he spent a lot of quality time with his family and in nature. The bilingual household included his mother, who is from Ecuador, his father, who is from the U.S., and his two siblings. Growing up, his parents instilled different, and equally as important, values in their children, Hardy said. “My mom made it a point teach us Spanish and to bring us back to Ecuador every other year, if not every year,” he said. “I’ve learned my lessons from both parents, and [my Latino] culture is something I care deeply about. I keep telling people who are close to me that one day I will do work in Ecuador or South America.” 

Jarrett Hardy stands in front of a new mural on the Auraria Campus that honors Latinx heritage.

Hardy credits his father for seeing his creative side, as well as his grandfather, a talented artist who used architectural drafting to paint beautiful cars. After four years of summer camp, his interest in architecture only grew. “I started connecting with people [in the industry] and became really interested in the content and the work—I get chills thinking about it because it was definitely what I was meant to do,” he said.  

He started working on his undergraduate degree at the University of Kanas in Lawrence, but another opportunity developed: He met a visiting CU Denver professor who made him aware of the university’s CAP, the mentorship connections, and the ability to study architecture in the center of an evolving, vibrant urban center. Hardy always wanted to be in a big city, and he wanted to be closer to his family, who had moved to Denver two and a half years prior. “As an architectural designer and an aspiring architect, seeing the city every day, walking the streets, understanding the people, understanding the places…that’s everything you could ask for, right?” Hardy said. 

Hardy immersed himself in the architecture program at CU Denver, while working full time and taking every opportunity to use his studies in hands-on work. He joined the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) and American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and met students from different backgrounds in his courses. “Many of the students at CU were older, or came from varied walks of life, which helped me become more sensitive to design while giving me the ability to build incredibly special relationships that will last a lifetime,” Hardy said. After completing his bachelor’s of science in 2020, he enrolled as a graduate student to earn a master’s in architecture.  

As an undergraduate and graduate student, Hardy has been able to gain real-world experience in the field of architecture through internships and jobs. To share more about his journey, and bring more representation of people of color to the industry, he and his two friends from the University of Kansas started their own podcast, “Building Design.” Their goal is to inspire global design conversation.  

He’s used his classroom skills to work on multiple types of projects, including high-rises, masterplans, residential homes, and pavilions—nationally, locally, and in the mountains. He’s currently working on-site at the Populus Hotel (adjacent to Civic Center Park), which The Beck Group is building, and a mixed-use office development in Cherry Creek North that focus on the combination of biophilia and architecture to bring change to the city. 

Jarrett Hardy at his workplace, The Beck Group, in downtown Denver.

At CU Denver, he also enjoyed learning about computational design, which uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to help design the outside of a building, also called the skin, to better meet the needs of the structure and those who would be using it. Cities across the world—including Ecuador’s capital, Quito—could benefit from this kind of modern technology in a rapidly evolving world, he said.  

He found that those classroom discussions were often just the beginning. “Your connections with those professors and with the faculty actually lead to pretty incredible conversations and opportunities outside of school,” Hardy said. “I’ve really tapped in to that in so many different ways.”   

Hardy’s next step is to continue with his current firm and get his architecture license, which involves six tests over a period of time. Whether he ends up in another city in the U.S., or in Ecuador, Denver will always be a home to him. “Being close to the mountains and nature, being close to my family here locally, and then being close to the city, in terms of being at the school, and then all the people you meet in between, it’s almost like this holistic approach to living,” said Hardy, noting that he gets emotional thinking about his experience. “CU Denver helped bring those things together, and that’s been the greatest benefit.”