Different rules for government?
While the city of Aspen pursues the involuntary historic preservation of ’60s and ’70s architecture ” in spite of the fact that the mayor, after four months of citizen outcry and unified public input has concluded that, “I have no idea what the community wants in terms of historic preservation” ” the city and the county are pursuing the development of 65,000 square feet of new office space.
Pitkin County Public Works director Brian Pettet, when speaking of the 1970s Courthouse Plaza building designed by Aspen architect Sam Caudill, said the first step: “We want to blow up the plaza building.” Pettet called the “aging” (but by city of Aspen’s standards, not “historic”) Main Street building “inefficient.”
I agree and would add that the building is an example of notoriously poor architecture, which characterized the ’60s and ’70s. Mr. Pettet’s desire to “blow up” the Courthouse Plaza building follows a similar conclusion by the Aspen School District to demolish the Caudill-designed Aspen Middle School ” barely 30 years after it was constructed. In sharp contrast to these government actions, if the Courthouse Plaza was a private property, the city of Aspen would undoubtedly be demanding its historic designation as it is (as well as) for several other Caudill buildings and similar architecture from the era, including US Bank, Aspen Sports and Main Street Gas/Conoco.
Something is terribly wrong with our government when it seeks to take property rights in the name of questionable historic preservation, while participating in a plan to replace a far more “significant” building by the same architect, most likely because it is owned by another government entity that rightly recognizes that it should be blown up. Not every old building should be preserved. Many should be blown up!
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FREAK POWER AT 50: Stories from the Aspen Times archives on Hunter S. Thompson’s campaign for sheriff
Join us as we are revisit original Aspen Times stories and a selection of the Times’ contemporaneous coverage of the Hunter Thompson campaign for sheriff from 1970 on the occasion of the release of local filmmakers Ajax Phillips and Daniel Joseph Watkins’ new film.