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Toadstool tops Tuetonic

Matt Zalaznick

Whether it’s a tribute to Fred Flintstone, fried bologna or forest fungus, I’ve got a crush on the roof of Vail’s chosen conference center concept. Those cuddly, cartoony undulations are a real liberation from all those prim and pointy and persnickety Bavarian buildings. Those whimsical waves shout, “Let’s go surfing!” The Germanic beams and gables bark, “Where are your papers!”The first is an organic slopeside party sprouting from the sheer giddiness of a day on the mountain. The other’s a cold, calculating and cunning annexation of the Sudatenland. Whoopee!And how it blends into the scenery. Why, it couldn’t blend in any better if it was antlered and shaped like an elk, or fuzzy like a giant marmot – or as on the verge of disaster as a tourist stumbling down Bridge Street in a brand new ski outfit with a pile of skis propped precariously over his shoulder. But oh how it also will stand out, like a beacon of looniness reminding everyone Vail was a place of pioneering and wild revelry before the days when the biggest celebrities the mountain can muster for its highly hooplahed celebrity ski race are actors with bit parts in already canceled sitcoms; before the days when the biggest blowout was a one-term president (who was never actually elected) lighting a Christmas tree. And even that didn’t happen this year. Snooze. Never mind, Vail’s going in a different direction: The roof is much more Hunter Thompson than Jerry Ford. The rolling roof’s a vision from an acid trip. Those curves are, dare I say, a bit lascivious. And what’s wrong with sexy in a ski town that’s gaga over figures as ungeometric as tight ski pants, fast downhillers, and Ryan and Trista? Perhaps that gonzo roof, aside from its potential for architectural spectacle, is also a solution to the I-70 ruckus that plagues the poor mountain town: People, maybe even truckers, zooming by on the interstate will just have to slow down enough to ask: “What the heck is that wacky-lookin’ thing?” Maybe they’d even stop to explore the Flintstone Dome and have a bite to eat (hooray! sales tax!) if the choices weren’t a $30-a-person lunch or McDonald’s. So it goes. And it’s somewhat amazing that the Town Council, usually cautious to the point of collective coma, made a splash: They picked (with some misgivings) the most spectacular design proposed to them. Toadstool topples Teutonic!A few wanted to stick to artificial Aryan, but the majority just lost their minds and aimed for avant garde. And good for them, because today’s supposedly rebellious but deeply facade-conscious snowboarders are tomorrow’s conventioneers, and they may really dig digs with a lot more flair. With all the carping about the aging, out-of-touch aesthetics in Vail Village and Lionshead, why dump another ready-made relic in the middle of town? City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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