Letter: Stop living in the past
December 18, 2015
New technologies and building techniques allow for the exploration of different ideas of modernity that speak to the ways we currently live and shape the ways we will live in the future. Aspen's obsession with the architectural past and mere stylistic concerns is shortsighted and stunts our growth as a community. Modernity and innovation in architecture and design, at their best, are intended to improve our lives and set a pathway for our future by adapting to our modern ways of living, communicating and interacting. Many argue that an obsession with the past in Aspen is intended to keep a hold on small-mountain-town, rustic character. One would be mistaken to believe that innovation, technology and modernity in architecture and design would disrupt this character. In fact, these are the very elements that can allow us to deepen our synchronous relationship with the mountains and reveal more of the character of this beautiful place, where aligning with our surroundings has always brought us enjoyment.
No more so are these ideals of a forward-thinking architecture more important than in a civic building. The Pitkin County building can become an example and, as a public building, has the duty to express the sum of our design and construction potential. The current designs for the new building fall far short of what is possible with the skills and knowledge set that architects and designers in our valley possess and the potential for what our community can become. With industry leaders in sustainability and construction experience and some of the brightest minds on the planet living and working in Aspen, we have the opportunity to create some of the best and most thoughtful buildings anywhere. With our history of forward-thinking architecture and design, Walter Paepcke founded the International Design Conference in Aspen over 50 years ago — and with the advances in design that have come though our small, rustic, mountain town — it is a missed opportunity to see the predominant modes of architecture in Aspen reduced to mere stylistic exercises and programmatic designs so strongly based on what has worked in the past rather than focusing on the exciting opportunities for using innovation to explore our future.