Big institutions…literally |

Big institutions…literally

Charles Agar
Aspen Times Weekly
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

With no records at the assessor’s office for tax-free entities in Roaring Fork Valley, our list of the biggest institutional buildings in Pitkin County is not as exact as the lists of commercial and residential property.

There is no “master list” of government and nonprofit structures in the county. But local schools and the hospital top our informal survey.

The Aspen High School tips the scales at 176,000 square feet, followed by the 127,000-square-foot elementary school and the new middle school at 113,000 square feet (up from the previous 90,000-square-foot incarnation).

The Aspen Recreation Center along Maroon Creek Road, a collection of vast indoor spaces where people swim, skate, climb and work out, stands at 81,828 square feet. (Another local recreation spot, the Aspen Ice Garden on West Hyman Avenue, is roughly 27,000 square feet.)

Built in 1977, Aspen Valley Hospital is some 70,000 square feet, but a planned expansion will roughly triple the hospital’s size, according to Aspen Valley Hospital spokeswoman Ginny Dyche.

“The existing hospital is small,” Dyche said “Our goal in expanding this facility is to be able to meet contemporary standards.”

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport terminal buildings are 44,000 square feet, but a possible expansion could expand the terminal to 73,000 feet.

The Pitkin County Library stands at about 38,000 square feet, but could expand in coming years as part of a comprehensive downtown plan.

By comparison, government offices in Aspen aren’t much larger than some local mega-homes.

Aspen City Hall stands at 18,000 square feet, and the city-owned Wheeler Opera House is 30,000. The Pitkin County Courthouse building, which dates back to the 1880s silver boom, stands at some 20,000 square feet. The 1980s-era Pitkin County Jail is some 17,500 square feet and the1970s-era Plaza One office building on Main Street is 16,000 square feet.

But government buildings aren’t the only large institutions in this nonprofit-driven community. The Aspen Institute in Aspen’s West End, for example, occupies some 22,000 square feet in meeting space alone. The buildings at the Aspen Music Festival and School campus along Castle Creek comprise 50,500 square feet, but a proposed remodel would boost that number to 105,500 square feet, according to planners for the project.