CU students present concepts for a new Silverthorne town core
A decorative arch, a modern downtown and direct river access — these were just a few of the plans dreamed up by a group of University of Colorado students tasked with drawing up models of a walkable downtown for Silverthorne’s town core. The group of 14 undergraduates took on the task in a short timeframe, with just one semester to present their plans, based on Silverthorne’s new zoning standards.
“From the town’s perspective, I think this is the type of thing we’re looking for,” Silverthorne assistant town manager Mark Leidal said. “It’s amazing how far you guys have come in three or four months for stuff that’s taken us years.”
Leidal, a graduate of the University of Colorado, teamed up with professor John Lanterman to create a true hands-on project. The environmental design students were divided into three groups, with architects focusing on plans for the Old Dillon Inn block, landscape architects working with the Blue River and city planners tying the entire project together with transportation and landmarks.
“This semester, it’s about beginning to step out with a real world project and real world clients,” Lanterman said. “We developed a class in how we could best serve Silverthorne and provide a great learning opportunity for students.”
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Third-year student Patrick Paden, a local Summit High School and Colorado Mountain College graduate, presented the big picture, which would set up Adams Avenue as Silverthorne’s “Main Street” and Third Street as a gateway of sorts.
“I’ve lived here for about 10 years. Silverthorne has become a unique little town. …It’s a place I’ve come to call home,” Paden said. “We wanted to design something that would be here first for the community, but could be enjoyed by everyone.”
Moving the town’s main street to Adams Avenue would be meant to make pedestrians more comfortable, and safe, while walking through the heart of Silverthorne. Meanwhile, it is designed to attract in traffic from Highway 9, where a slightly narrowed road, trees and on-street spaces would encourage vehicles to move at a slower pace. An arch and pocket parks, meanwhile, would give visitors on the highway a sense of place.
Student Madeline Pappis said improvements to slow traffic on Highway 9 would be the most crucial in setting the tone for downtown. She and four other students drew up building plans for the Old Dillon Inn block, creating a cluster of mixed-use mountain modern buildings while keeping the Mint as an historic structure.
“We wanted to create an identity for Silverthorne. That’s where we came up with mountain modern,” she said. “We’re making a gesture toward historical modern towns and modernizing it.”
Meanwhile, the landscape architecture students added a plaza with a red brick paved bridge connecting the downtown to Rainbow Drive. Flagstone steps near the planned Performing Arts Center would allow theatregoers to wade into the Blue River.
“We really just wanted to create a place,” Paden said. “Come 2030, what will people say about Silverthorne?”
Silverthorne Town Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development Advisory Committee members provided feedback — most were pleased at how the assignments fit into Silverthorne’s current plans.
“I want to compliment you on what you did tying into what we’ve been working on for three years,” Silverthorne Economic Development Advisory Committee chair Edward O’Brien said.
The plan does differ from Silverthorne’s in that Adams, rather than Highway 9, is the focal point.
“Whatever we do, we know Highway 9 is a bugger,” EDAC committee member Brian Edney said. “One thing I’d like to see some focus on, is how do we make better use of the river.”
The students will also present Silverthorne with a virtual, 3-D model of the town made in a program called SketchUp, that can be tweaked for future plans.
“I’m kind of blown away to be honest,” town manager Ryan Hyland said. “I don’t know if you know what kind of marketing tool you’ve given us.”
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