Architect Anderson champion of historic buildings, sustainability

John D. Anderson. Photo credit: Noah Kalina

Architect John David “Andy” Anderson had a message for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“We are very careful not to let people tear buildings down,” Mr. Anderson said in 1995, as the head of the powerful board called the Lower Downtown Design and Demolition Review Board.

The issue was that the Terminator’s plan to redevelop property owned by the movie star could entail terminating some of the buildings in the proposed Stadium Walk at 19th and Wazee streets, preserving only their facades.

The building remained intact and the former governor of California has long sold the property at 18th, 19th and Wazee streets.

But the moment illustrates that Mr. Anderson, who died at age 90 on May 21, was committed to preserving historical buildings. During his tenure as chairman of the board, he played a pivotal role in the redevelopment of Union Station. Indeed, In 2004, he and his wife received the Dana Crawford Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation. His office at the time was a block from Union Station.

Mr. Anderson, founder of Anderson Mason Dale, was not only a strong proponent of saving historic buildings, but was “green” years before the color stood for sustainability and conserving resources.


John D. Anderson. Photo credit: Photo courtesy Noah Kalina

His firm was considered a pioneer in sustainable design.

In 1972, his firm designed the world’s largest solar-heated building for Front Range Community College, in Westminster.

“There weren’t many people in the early years who believed in what we were doing,” Anderson told Architect Magazine in 2013.

A year after he retired from his namesake firm, the University of Denver opened its handsome, brick Daniels College of Business building, designed by his firm. The building was designed and built to last 500 years, officials told the Rocky Mountain News at the time.


Anderson Mason Dale, founded by John D. Anderson, designed the Daniels College of Business building on the DU campus.

Mr. Anderson died peacefully in his sleep.

After graduating with an undergraduate and master’s degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of design, he married Florence Van Dyke (“Flodie”). He and Flodie then went West, driving their car “Horrors” to Denver, “where the fast-growing city presented both architectural opportunities and a place to raise a family with a fabulous mountain backdrop,” according to his obituary in the Denver Post.

In 1960 he founded Anderson Architects, which became Anderson Mason Dale in the early 1980s.

Mr. Anderson lectured and was a panelist on sustainable building design throughout the U.S., as well as in the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa and Finland. He was a delegate to the World Energy Congress in New Delhi in 1983.

From 2000 to 2001 he served as the American Institute of Architect’s national president. As president, he bolstered the AIA’s finances and established metrics to track the racial diversity of its membership. He was long a proponent of inclusivity and diversity in architecture, and he sought to include more women in the field. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he flew to New York City and created a fund for architects who had lost offices and projects in the attacks.

Mr. Anderson is survived by Flodie, their two sons Robert (Suzanne) and David (Nanon), four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The adjective most used to describe him was a gentleman.

“Andy was a gentleman, a compassionate leader, an outstanding architect, and a citizen of the first order. What a role model he was to his beloved profession and the AIA,” according to his longtime friend and fellow architect, Randy Vosbeck.


If you scratch the surface of just about any deal, there is a story behind it. The Rebchook Real Estate Corner looks at the what and who that make the Colorado commercial real estate industry spin every Tuesday and Thursday online at The people behind the deals are passionate about what they do, whether they focus on offices, apartments, industrial, retail, land or lending. They also are passionate about their clients. Given the cyclical nature of commercial real estate, those who prosper in it have plenty of stories to tell. I hope to share them with you. 

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John Rebchook has been taking the pulse of the Denver-area and Colorado commercial real estate world for almost 35 years. He joined the editorial staff of CREJ in 2011. Prior to that, he was the Real Estate Editor of the Rocky Mountain News from 1983 until it closed in 2009.