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Green Mountain Falls Skyspace

Green Mountain Falls Foundation

Project Type:
New Construction

Construction Type:

Green Mountain Falls, Colorado

Square Footage:

Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, is well known for its love of the arts and nature. The client envisioned the perfect location for a Skyspace by artist James Turrell, who has 85 installations worldwide and is known for his work in light and space movement. With the installation in mind, the client purchased acres of land on Red Butte Mountain, where the Skyspace would be located. The Skyspace is an observatory where visitors view the sky through an opening in the ceiling called an oculus, all while a program of color-changing LED lighting washes the interior of the space. This experience is best viewed at dusk or dawn. Surrounded by pine trees and other native landscaping, the 18-foot-tall structure is clad in native materials to complement its surroundings. Native and locally sourced materials include steel, concrete, granite, natural stone, and local Beetle-Kill Pine, which is sustainably harvested from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. Green Mountain Falls Skyspace is the only Skyspace built on the side of a mountain and can be reached in a couple of different ways. The most prominent path is the new ”Turrell” hiking trails that were included in the master planning. It can also be reached from “Pittman” and “Keigwin”  trails. The building is oriented on the mountain to work with the natural slope minimizing disturbance to the natural environment. The entrance faces toward the high side of the mountain, allowing a direct connection to the existing trail.  The primary structure of the Skyspace is cast-in-place concrete, including the benches, which were then clad in Beetle-Kill Pine.  Radiant heat is incorporated into the benches between the concrete and wood for added comfort during the colder months.  The landscaping near the entry includes local crushed granite with native grasses. Dark Sky-friendly lighting is used minimally on the walkway to reduce light pollution. Due to the often-changing weather conditions in Green Mountain Falls, the client wanted to ensure that this Skyspace could be enjoyed year-round. Green Mountain Falls Skyspace is one of the few Skyspaces that has a retractable roof.  A second light trough is incorporated into the upper roof level adding to the viewing experience when the roof is in the closed position.  The structure of the operable roof also doubles as a covered entrance during inclement weather.