Wavy roof wows town looking for ‘icon’

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This "natural" design is where the Vail Town Council is headed with the design for the new conference center to be built.
Special to Daily

Matt Zalaznick
December 8, 2004

VAIL — Some see mountains. Some see a “mushroom.”

A somewhat-avant garde design meant to blend into the surrounding cliffs and hillsides rather than Vail Village’s Bavarian motif has been chosen for the $42 million convention center many town leaders hope will energize the local economy if the facility eventually opens on a site between the Lionshead Parking Structure and Dobson Ice Arena.

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A rendering of Vail proposed conference center as it might look in the summertime.
Special to the Daily
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The centerpieces of the design, known in town deliberations as “No. 3,” are a conical tree structure and the building’s undulating roof, which is meant in the winter to create overhanging snow cornices.

“When the Sydney Opera House came on line, what was the response? Maybe a lot of people thought it was the craziest thing they’d ever seen. But over time, it’s been accepted as a masterpiece,” Vail resident Paul Rondeau said Tuesday night as the Town Council prepared to approved the design.

“This is kind of avant garde for Vail,” Rondeau added.

The town-owned center, designed to give those having meetings inside wide views of Vail Mountain, will be built between the Lionshead parking garage and Dobson Ice Arena.

The council voted for the natural design 6-1, despite some apprehension about whether it was too far out. Councilwoman Kim Ruotolo, who voted “yes,” said she was a little worried about the difference between an architect’s two drawings of the natural building.

“I really like the winter rendering. The summer, I can’t stand,” Ruotolo said. “I don’t like the brown roof, it looks like a mushroom to me.”

Councilwoman Diana Donovan, who has long criticized the vote in which residents approved a lodging tax to pay for the conference center, voted against the natural design. She said she prefered a design that more closely matched Vail’s Bavarian-themed buildings.

“We had a great 40 years selling Bavarian and last time I checked, it worked just fine adn that’s what we need to stick to,” Donovan said.
“I don’t like that big, fake tree out front,” she added.

Assistant Editor for Local News Matt Zalaznick can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 606, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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