Aspen Institute expansion defies Bayer’s ideals |

Aspen Institute expansion defies Bayer’s ideals

If the architect Herbert Bayer were alive today, he would say another building at the Aspen Institute is a crazy idea. “Das ist verrückt!” He would say put up more solar panels. Make solar panels a “gift to the community.” And add a big battery also to make the panels more effective. And while you are at it, do a major efficiency program on the rest of the buildings and replace gas furnaces with heat pumps. Take a good look at his work and you can see he was all about efficiency. And, especially, honesty.

But the new building was just approved. Never mind it doesn’t provide housing for its employees on site. Never mind that the neighborhood is “already overrun by the music school and Institute activities.” Never mind there will be “13 cars additional cars a day.” Never mind the building will not have parking spaces.

A former Aspen mayor (and former vice president at the Institute) captured the situation: “It is growth, there is no way around that. But this feels like the right kind of growth.” I built in Aspen for many years. I don’t remember seeing “the right kind” in any of the codes.

The building “will receive an expedited building permit … and waivers on … fees” because it is an “essential public facility.” Essential for whom?

The past is fine to know. Honoring someone long past doesn’t help them now. The future is our problem and we are not doing enough to have much of one.

Patrick Hunter