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Vail’s first green building turns 25

Nicole Inglisninglis@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Daily file photoThe Vail library was at the forefront of green-building technology when it was built 25 years ago, the architect who designed it says.
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VAIL, Colorado When the town of Vail, Colorado was budding as a resort, a real estate agent took a prospective million-dollar client to see the town’s public library. With its cozy fireplace, creek views and sleek design, the agent was introducing his client to the symbol of the community, and the atmosphere helped the agent make his first million-dollar sale.Twenty-five years later, architect Pam Hopkins, of the firm Snowdon and Hopkins, is still proud of Vail’s first green building. Hopkins will speak tonight at the library about the past and the future of the library and green architecture around the valley. It was sort of unique, she said of the building’s forward-thinking green roof. It was at the forefront of energy-saving ideas. It was quite exciting and they liked the idea.Snowdon and Hopkins was granted the opportunity to design the Vail Public Library, completed in 1983, after a three-day contest between five architecture firms. The library has asked the firm to come in and help renovate the building to keep up with all of the technological advances in environmental mechanical and lighting systems. It was one of our first buildings so we’re very proud of it, she said. It’s nice to be able to come back and fix it up, and that people think it’s worth fixing up. It’s been a well-loved, well-used library.Tonight, Hopkins will discuss the history of the building, the design competition and some entertaining stories from construction. She said that she hopes for a lively discussion about the direction of green building around the Vail Valley. If people have questions about what can they do, and what can people do to save money and energy, the library can act as a catalyst for that, she said. It’s become an example of how you can do it.The library won a national design award in 1985 from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association, a prestigious honor for a public building. The building has the largest green roof on a public building west of the Mississippi.Pam Hopkins and Craig Snowdon blended beauty and practicality very handsomely in this award-winning library, said Charlyn Canada, former director of the Vail Public Library. It was a pleasure to work with them on our mutual goal of offering an excellent library facility to the Vail community within the financial resources available. The goal was met, and the popularity and use of the library is greater than we ever imagined.Hopkins will be joined on the panel by Michael Day, senior associate for M-E Engineering, who will discuss efficient boiler systems; David Nelson, of David Nelson & Associates, who will talk about lighting; Charlyn Canada; Sherry Dorward, a landscape architect; and Hopkins’ partner, Craig Snowdon.


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