Just how tall is Solaris? | VailDaily.com

Just how tall is Solaris?

Special to the DailyThere is no one answer to the question, "How tall is Solaris?"

VAIL The buildings either 87.5 feet tall, 99.9 feet tall or 111 feet tall. Theres height on the north and height on the south. Theres historic grade, finished grade, height above sea level, and the towns formulaic official height. So how tall is Solaris?It all depends on what questions you ask, said Warren Campbell, the planner whos in charge of Solaris, the complex proposed to replace Crossroads.

Such is the confusion of an architecturally complex plan in a narrow valley with its own variations in elevation. The official town measurement says the proposed building is 99.9 feet tall at its highest point. But theres no place where you could stand and look up straight up 99.9 feet to a roof peak.From the frontage road, the highest point on the building would be 87.5 feet. If you stand on the other side of the building, in the plaza, the same roof peak would be 111 feet higher than the soles of your shoes.The 2.6-acre site sits between the frontage road and Meadow Drive, two roads that have an elevation difference of up to 25 feet.The arguments over the controversial proposal for Solaris, on the Crossroads site, center on its height and bulk. Vail residents will vote July 11 on the plan to bring a 10-lane bowling alley, a three-screen movie theater, a public plaza/ice rink, 69 condos, stores and restaurants to the site. The developer has also pledged $4 million in street improvements and $1.1 million in public art.As designed, eight stories are visible from Meadow Drive and six stories are visible from the frontage road.

So how tall is Solaris?Its context, said Solaris developer Peter Knobel.

Knobel prefers computer models to the discussion of height figures. The buildings architecture, its relationship to other buildings and the landscape is more important, he said.

He pointed to the variations in the rooflines. The peaked roof, which adds some 20 feet in height to the building, is more aesthetically pleasing than a flat roof, Knobel said.The plan flattens the current, sloping Crossroads parking lot to create a flat public plaza and ice skating rink that flows in from Meadow Drive. The town of Vail had requested a plaza for the Crossroads site.Because of that flattening of the current parking lot into a plaza, the second floor of stores for the proposed complex would be slightly above the first floor of the old Clarks Market in Crossroads.Knobel said the 111-foot-tall figure the elevation difference from the plaza to the peak of his building is misleading. As hyperbole, he said, the building is much taller than 111 feet as measured from Gore Creek, which is several blocks away and at a lower elevation.

The towns official height calculation says the Vail Plaza Hotels tower is 99.75 feet and its roof is 77.25 feet. But the buildings highest point is actually 112 feet. That extra height is considered an architectural projection and isnt included in the official height.

In terms of elevation above sea level, the top of the Vail Plazas tower will be slightly higher than Solaris highest point, even though Solaris is situated at higher elevation on the frontage road.The Vail Plaza Hotel, with 100 hotel rooms, 38 timeshares, two restaurants and a spa, is expected to be completed in December.The Ritz-Carlton Residences-Vails official height is 82.5 feet. But a clocktower projection is 112 feet tall above the historic level of the ground. The Ritz-Carlton will have 108 condos. Vail Resorts, whose subsidiary is developing the Ritz-Carlton, said it will start selling the condos in December.The Four Seasons official tallest height is 89 feet. The building at the main Vail roundabout will have 120 hotel rooms, 16 condos and 19 timeshares. Its supposed to be completed in 2008.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

At left in this model is the proposed Solaris building. In the middle is the existing Vail Village Inn Phase III building. The building on the left is the Vail Plaza Hotel and Reorts, now under construction and expected to be completed later this year.

This computer rendering shows the Vail Plaza Hotel and Resort from the main Vail roundabout, with the proposed Solaris building in the background. The tower on the Vail Plaza Hotel would be 112 feet above the historic ground level.Vail Colorado

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