Aspen Art Museum

Apr 20.2015

While passersby gazed up at the intricate wooden latticework of the New Aspen Art Museum, the team at Bluegreen kept all eyes street-side – necks craning over balconies, groups huddled at corner windows to catch a glimpse of a gathering swell of urban runoff headed (rather aptly) right down Spring Street.

The mass came swiftly, picking up speed and volume as rain intensified and topography ushered it on its way. Previously, it would have collected in storm sewers, eventually making its way back out to the Roaring Fork River. This particular rainy day, however, it found itself taking a rather different trajectory.

Strategically placed curb-cuts invited the swirling stormwater into the first bioretention basin to be installed in the City of Aspen Downtown. Designed by Bluegreen, the basin serves as the performative underbelly of an elegantly crafted series of ribbon-like seat walls that fold down and enclose mini-urban cells. Composed of a mixture of high-functioning ingredients (from structural soils, to plants that speed infiltration and absorption), the basins will serve as a living laboratory for performance metrics related to urban stormwater management over time.

As plants mature, streetscapes are cooled, and soils shift, the team at Bluegreen will be there, observing and developing a nuanced understanding of best management practices for designed stormwater management in the Colorado region. Engaged analysis will give way to experience that weaves its way back into Bluegreen projects Upvalley, Downvalley, and across the state.

As more is understood about the potential for site specific designs to impact local hydrology, Bluegreen hopes that bioretention systems like that implemented at the New Aspen Art Museum will become the norm for Colorado communities.

Should you happen to find yourself strolling through our community along Spring Street, look up: from its pervious pavers to its green-rooftop, the New Aspen Art Museum is a stunning expression of multifunctionality in the built environment.