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Housing project draws interest

Sarah S. Chung

The Housing Authority’s first national design competition has piqued the interest of architects across the country.

The design competition is for Aspen Mass, a 120- to 150-unit employee housing project proposed at the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Highway 82.

Many of the entrants’ geographic origins couldn’t be traced with certainty because their request for the project specs arrived via e-mail. But the housing office tracked a few of the 80-plus requests to interested parties from New York, North Carolina, Washington state, Kentucky, “quite a few” from California and one from Santa Fe.

“I’m not surprised at the number of requests. The city of Aspen holds a very strong attraction for designers in general,” said Jay Leavitt, director of development and construction for the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

Of the total number of requests, Leavitt estimates about 15 percent are from outside the area and 85 percent are local or regional – from Denver to Park City, Utah.

There’s no telling for sure how many of the requests for applications will result in actual submittals. “If we get 20 or 25, I’ll be very happy,” Leavitt said.

“We made sure to communicate how large the project will be to make sure we get real responses, so this won’t just be an academic exercise,” Leavitt continued. “Once some of the smaller offices realize the scope of the project, they probably will not enter [the competition.]”

Aside from the housing component of the project, the Aspen Mass site will include public transportation stops, public trails and links to open space. Features proposed in the application include “green design,” noise buffers from traffic on Highway 82 and “in general, good livability and aesthetics.”

The nine-member judging panel has not yet been finalized, but will include representatives from both the public and private sectors, Leavitt said.

“People seem really excited about the process,” he added.

June 1 is the deadline to submit a proposal. From the applications, five finalists will be chosen and awarded $10,000. Those five finalists will have until Aug. 22 to submit a design and the winner will be chosen by Sept. 15.

The five finalists’ designs will be presented in a public forum and interested community members will be encouraged to comment on the proposals.


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