Nestled in the mountains of Colorado, Redstone is situated along the banks of the Crystal River. In the early twentieth century, Redstone was the region’s largest supplier of coke and built 249 beehive-shaped ovens to keep up with demand. Less than a decade after completion, rising transportation costs made mining unprofitable: mines closed, and the coke ovens abandoned. After decades of decay, residents organized to protect the rich history of the site. Bluegreen facilitated community collaboration resulting in a Historic Master Plan. To express the essence of time, several coke ovens are fully restored. Moving away from the focal point of restoration efforts, the ovens appear to degrade to their present condition, allowing the action of time to manifest in the historic spine. The dialogue between structure and environment evolves as they meld together, a realization of nature’s regenerative power. This strategy offers a unique solution to financial constraints of the project while preserving the visual impact of the industrial footprint.
The coke ovens’ proximity to the river demanded a sensitive approach to brownfield reclamation. To address environmental contamination due to mining spoils, Bluegreen selected native plant materials with success in bioremediation. Those same plants also serve as primary catch bioswales for site particulates during storm events and snowmelt. The entire length of ovens is protected from human intervention with the introduction of a wall in the language of the original industrial wharf. Interpretive signage offers insight into the coke ovens’ past to visitors, completing the narrative of historical legacy.
Interpretive signage images courtesy of Esse Design.
This project is the recipient of the 2009 Colorado Chapter of the ASLA Honor Award for Research and Communication.