RH Gallery gets HPC’s green light for skylights on Galena Street project | AspenTimes.com

RH Gallery gets HPC’s green light for skylights on Galena Street project

Aspen Historical Commission allows downtown project to build rooftop skylight

The site of the future RH Gallery was devoid of construction activity Wednesday, but the developers received approval to have one large and one small rooftop skylight on the building.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

The developers of RH Gallery on Galena Street got a ray of sunshine from the Aspen Historic Commission on Wednesday.

Commissioners unanimously agreed over a virtual meeting to let developer Mark Hunt’s M Development and RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, to amend the downtown project’s approvals to include a large and small rooftop skylight.

Wednesday’s decision came at the end of a hearing that originally started Sept. 14, when the development team sought approval to install five rooftop skylights, with the main one operable and the four others fixed. City Planning Director Amy Simon said the skylights as proposed then had the potential to create illumination out of character with downtown. Four of the five HPC members attending the September meeting also didn’t support the skylights. No vote was taken then; however, the HPC agreed to table their decision to allow the developers some time to resubmit their proposal.

That is what they did through Aspen planning firm BendonAdams, which reduced the number of skylights from five to two. To placate concerns about illumination from the skylights, BendonAdams said glare-coated “dynamic glass,” which can be clear or darkened, will be used.

“We will use an anti-glare coating to address this issue,” Chris Bendon of BendonAdams said in response to a residential neighbor’s concern.

Skylights are not prohibited by code, and the proposal for the RH Gallery would not be precedent setting. He noted the future Jazz Aspen Snowmass entertainment center, which will be on the same 400 block of East Cooper Avenue as the RH Gallery, has approvals for a rooftop skylight, while such older buildings as the Ute City Banque and Caribou Alley have skylights.

“They are there because they bring in natural light and make a real dramatic improvement to the interior space,” he said, “and that’s the same thing we’re after.” He added that “the skylight proposal is less obtrusive than skylights on other commercial buildings in the immediate area.”

The main skylight would primarily serve the restaurant on the building’s second floor, and the smaller one would bring light to all three levels of the building. “That was a strong design element the development team want to remain included,” Bendon said of the smaller skylight.

Work on the RH Gallery — where the Bidwell Building used to be at the corner of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue — has been on hold with the proposal pending.

“The project needs to move forward on an appropriate timeframe at this point or the approval could expire,” said Simon, who added that another outstanding matter that needs addressing is a viewplane review.

The HPC also agreed to let them the building to have recessed entryways on the building’s Cooper and Galena sides.

RH Gallery on Galena “will offer two floors of the RH Interiors, Contemporary, Modern and RH Ski House collections, plus Interior Design, Architecture and Landscape Architecture services. Additionally, the gallery will include a transparent glass rooftop restaurant with views of Aspen Mountain, a wine and barista bar plus two private dining rooms with fireplaces and retractable roofs,” RH said in January 2021 when it announced a partnership with Hunt to create an “Aspen ecosystem”

The Bidwell site will serve as RH’s main storefront, with a gallery and restaurant.

For more information, read our previous coverage:

Proposal for skylights slows RH project on Galena/Cooper

Next RH Guesthouse is ‘teed up in Aspen,’ company CEO says

Aspen boutique hotel project on ice for now