Aspen’s Forum Phi, Charles Cunniffe Architects top Outside Magazine “best places to work in 2017” again |

Aspen’s Forum Phi, Charles Cunniffe Architects top Outside Magazine “best places to work in 2017” again

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
The Forum Phi staff on a hut trip this year. Aspen’s Forum Phi architecture firm cracked Outside Magazine’s 2017 "best places to work” list at No. 1 for the second year in a row.
Courtesy photo |

Other companies in the Roaring Fork Valley to make Outside Magazine’s “best places to work in 2017” list:

— Bluetent, No. 18

Digital agency for travel and tourism in Carbondale

—Blizzard Internet Marketing, Inc., No. 47

Travel and hospitality marketing and website design in Glenwood Springs

— Backbone Media, No. 67

Brand marketing and communications agency in Carbondale

—CCY Architects, No. 94

Architecture firm in Basalt

Family picnics, fridges filled with beer, unlimited vacation days, birthday lunches, staff hut trips and powder days celebrated on the slopes.

Those are among the many benefits at two Aspen architectural firms — Forum Phi and Charles Cunniffe Architects — that Outside Magazine dubbed “best places to work for 2017.”

Forum Phi topped the list for the second straight year; Charles Cunniffe jumped to No. 11 from last year’s No. 14 spot.

Upon applying for the 2017 honor, Forum Phi founding partner Steev Wilson thought, “Under no circumstances would (Outside Magazine) let us be No. 1 again.”

“And then we were like, ‘Holy crap how does that happen?’” Wilson said. “It was a huge surprise — a pleasant one — but a huge surprise.”

Outside Magazine articles editor Jonah Ogles said it is not uncommon for companies to hover near the top of the list each year; however, Forum Phi’s recurrent No. 1 rank may be a first.

“I’m not sure it has happened where it’s back-to-back No. 1,” Ogles said. “But when you look at what Forum Phi offers, it makes sense.”

Outside works with Best Companies Group to consider several factors in compiling its list, including workplace flexibility, vacation policies, pay, perks and more, Ogles said.

“If you look at these companies (on the list), they all have a lot in common,” he said. “Very forward-thinking companies is what we’re looking for.”

For Wilson, the philosophy behind Forum Phi is simple. He created his “dream place” to work and held true to this vision.

“If I always want to work here, then hopefully the people who are coming to work here agree with me,” he said. “All of our employees have a voice, they feel heard; they are heard.

“It’s been a fun year and I guess this reflects that.”

At Charles Cunniffe, maintaining a strong work-life balance is at the core of the firm, founder Charles Cunniffe said.

“We feel that work-life balance is critical to our staff,” Cunniffe said. “It’s our philosophy. Aspen was founded on mind, body, spirit.”

The office vibe is family-oriented and laid back, he said.

“Most of our staff have families and they’re welcomed to join us when we do events,” Cunniffe said. “We try to make every day an adventure. We want it to be a fun atmosphere. There’s a lot of joke-telling going around.”


This week in Aspen history

“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.

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