Park restrooms win design award |

Park restrooms win design award

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s love-?em-or-hate-?em Wagner Park restrooms and clock tower were recently singled out for recognition by the Western Colorado Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

“It supports the love-it side of the equation,” said local architect Willis Pember, conceding the AIA Honor Award for the project is a bit of vindication for a design that has taken its share of potshots from a community where everyone’s a critic.

William Pember Architects was actually singled out for a pair of Honor Awards at the AIA dinner gala last month in Denver. Pember’s work on a private residence in Missouri Heights, the Blue Moon Ranch, was also recognized.

In addition, Aspen’s Studio B received two Citation Awards, one for a private residence on Castle Creek and one for a designed, but as yet unbuilt, home on Molokai in Hawaii.

The Wagner Park restrooms, which opened in June in a highly visible locale next to the park and the downtown pedestrian mall, were virtually guaranteed to elicit strong feelings, given their prime location, Pember reasoned.

“It’s a progressive piece for Aspen. It is of this century and that was the intention,” he said. “We knew that it would obviously get some negative reaction.

“Love it or hate it is a perfectly fine reaction from my point of view,” Pember added. “If everyone just has no reaction, it’s probably boring.”

The city conducted a design contest for the restroom project and selected Pember’s.

The design team for the restroom project included Pember and architect Suzannah Reid, the city’s Parks Department and Ajax Design and Communication, which handled the exterior graphics detailing Aspen’s history and the recently installed touch-screen monitors that offer information on the environmentally friendly aspects of the project. Roaring Fork Builders was the construction contractor.

A new playground, to be constructed next to the restrooms, will be added next spring.

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