'Natural' design draws a
buzz in Vail
option presented uses a "curvilinear" roof to
mimic and create snow cornices. Vail Town Councilman
Greg Moffet said a structure that resembles the one
pictured here "could be our Sydney Opera
Scott N. Miller
October 22, 2004
VAIL - There weren't any outright "ooohs"
or "aaahhhs," but most eyebrows in the room arched when
architect Mike Winters showed the third design for the Vail conference
Winters, of Denver-based Fentress Bradburn Architects, must be used to
arched eyebrows by now. The firm designed the passenger terminal at
Denver International Airport, the U.S. Marine Museum in Quantico, Va.,
and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyo.
All those designs are different, but all reflect the
firm's philosophy of using either natural or historic elements in a
The design team led by Fentress
Bradburn architects of Denver also presented a
"modern" design option featuring wood, stone, and lots
of glass. Vail Town Councilwoman Diana Donovan said the drawing
looked like "you've encased the Lionshead parking structure
At DIA, the pointed roofs of the terminal look like a cluster of Indian
teepees rising from the plains or a mountain range. In Jackson, the
museum uses the rock formations of the nearby mountains as inspiration.
Winters first showed the audience of a few dozen people a traditional
design that echoes European themes found in Vail Village. That, said
some, looks too much like Beaver Creek. The second was a more
contemporary design using glass, wood and stone.
"It looks like we put a glass cover around the Lionshead parking
structure," Councilwoman Diana Donovan said.
The third used natural elements found around Vail - forests, rock
outcroppings and snow cornices - for inspiration. That design features a
"vertical element" that evokes an evergreen tree and a curving
roof that will form snow cornices in the winter.
The "traditional" design
option for the Vail conference center evokes themes found in
Vail Village, but was criticized by some as looking to much like
something that might be built at Beaver Creek.
While that design drew
the most positive comments, some worried if the town could afford in a
$42 million budget.
"I think it's exciting and interesting, but will it work?"
Vail resident Paul Rondeau asked.
Winters said the "curvilinear" roof would be a challenge, but
it could be done.
"We've discussed using sod, or formable shingles," he said.
As to whether the town could afford such a structure, Winters said the
conference center in Palm Springs, Calif., which is about the same size,
and also is designed to reflects its surroundings, cost about $30
While money questions remain, the design clearly
created a buzz.
"We need to create our own Sydney Opera House," Councilman
Greg Moffet said. "To the extent we can afford it, we need to
Residents and others had a chance to look at the designs at a Wednesday
open house at the Vail Public Library. And there will be more
opportunities for public comment over the next few weeks.
"This is a community decision," Councilman Kent Logan said.
"I hope this becomes a project we can rally behind."
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at
949-0555, ext. 613, or email@example.com.
Following a pair of public meetings this week, the Vail conference
center design team will bring "refined" design concepts to the
Vail Town Council's Nov. 2 meeting. Community meetings will be held
through the fall.
Next steps include selection of a general contractor. The project
schedule calls for bonds to be issued by the end of the year, with
construction to begin in April of 2005. The 100,000 square foot
facility, which will be located just east of the Lionshead parking
structure, will cost approximately $42.5 million.
For more information, call Vail Community
Development Director Russell Forrest, 479-2146, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.