On a site where sustainability is not just important, but required. This ski patrol headquarters, located in the frigid yet sunny climate of the Colorado Rockies, utilizes a unique south facing double skin window wall to both harness the energy of the sun while providing an attractive public face for the resort’s ski patrol and their operations.
The program is comprised of 4 parts: the ski patrol headquarters, a medical clinic, a snowcat garage and a helipad. The building’s form is based on physically separating these different but related programmatic elements and then establishing logical connections between them. For instance, in order to reduce impact to the site, the snowcat garage, being the largest part of the program, is located on grade and forms a large plinth from which the headquarters, clinic and helipad can be located. A glass entry vestibule then creates a connective node between these elements.
The overriding design feature is the south facing double skin window wall. The sunspace, or “solar loggia”, creates a unique opportunity to utilize both active and passive solar strategies.
The photovoltaic panels are located behind the exterior window wall; this protects them from snow and ice, while they convert sunlight into electricity. Studies have shown that photovoltaic panels only convert 10% to 20% of the sun’s energy into electricity; the majority of the remaining energy is turned into radiant heat. Therefore, the thermally separated “solar loggia” can then be used to preheat the outside air, with the radiant heat released by the photovoltaic panels, prior to utilization in the HVAC system.
Designing within a natural context is much less forgiving than a built one. Face it; ugly buildings are a lot more noticeable if other buildings don’t surround them. One solution might be too mimic the natural environment, however, all too often this approach fails. As Pietro Belluschi put it, “We never could design a building as beautiful as the trees”.
Therefore, this ski patrol headquarters concept looks to contrast modern architectural form with the natural environment while placing great emphasis on sustainability and deriving its form from its programmatic elements.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Rocky Mountains, Colorado