Aspen’s Given Institute placed on ‘imperiled places’ list
ASPEN – Aspen’s Given Institute was selected Thursday for Colorado’s 2011 Most Endangered Places List.
Colorado Preservation Inc. (CPI) placed the Given on its annual list of the most imperiled sites. There were 44 historic sites in the state nominated this year. Six were selected for the list.
CPI Executive Director James Hare said the organization devotes staff time and resources to raising funds to save imperiled historic sites, and it helps rally concerned citizens in preservation efforts. He has high hopes for helping preserve the Given Institute.
“We hope to find a sympathetic buyer,” he said. The buyer would be someone that would work with the city of Aspen, the community and the University of Colorado, which currently owns the site but is trying to sell it, he said.
CPI has created the “most endangered” list since 1997 to build awareness of historically significant places and the threats they face, and to help efforts to preserve them. It works to save everything from buildings to cemeteries to old mining and ranching structures.
Of the 86 endangered sites that have made its list since 1997, 22 have been designated as “saved,” another 34 are in progress, 26 remain imperiled and three “have been lost,” according to CPI.
A development firm by the name of SC Acquisitions LLC has an option to purchase the Given Institute property from the University of Colorado for about $14 million. A portion of the property in Aspen’s West End overlooks Hallam Lake. The firm wants to develop high-end residential home lots.
The developer has offered to sell the Given Institute building and the lot closest to Hallam Lake to the city as part of a complicated proposal pending with the council. It would develop homes on two other lots. The City Council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the Given property.
The Given Institute qualified for CPI’s imperiled list because “it’s a wonderful monument” to Aspen’s resurrection after World War II, Hare said.
CPI’s nomination of the Given Institute for its list says, “The Given Institute is a modernist architectural masterpiece designed by the renowned Chicago architect Harry Weese. Best known for designing the Washington, D.C., metro stations, Weese was commissioned by the University of Colorado School Of Medicine to design a place where the top medical minds could meet to exchange ideas and present research findings. Built in 1972 on land donated by the late visionary matriarch of Aspen, Elizabeth Paepcke, the Given Institute stands as evidence to the promise of Aspen as a place of big ideas from the world’s greatest artists, thinkers, and leaders. The Given Institute has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a site of exceptional importance built within the last 50 years.”
The architecture of the recent past “is under assault cross the country,” CPI’s nomination said. Ironically, CPI noted, Weese was a famous preservationist. He told Time Magazine in 1973 that “maybe someone will save one of our buildings some day.”
“Colorado Preservation, in collaboration with the numerous individuals and organizations in favor of preserving the Given Institute, will work diligently to see just that come true,” the organization said.
CPI unveiled its Most Endangered Place list Thursday in Denver at its Saving Places Conference, an annual event for historic preservationists.
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said he welcomes CPI’s efforts because it expands the awareness about the Given Institute and the value in preserving it. “This maybe alerts people that there is some value there in the structure,” he said.
At Monday’s special meeting, the city will unveil a counter-proposal to the developer. “We’re going to make them an offer of how we think the property should be developed,” Ireland said.
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