Breckenridge, Colorado

Artful planning with a sense of history

Merit Award: Wolff Lyon Architects, Boulder, CO (303/447-2786)  

Challenge: Persuade the town to adopt denser development on an 85-acre site originally zoned for four large residences and design a community that's child-friendly, walkable, affordable, and authentically tied to its region. The land consisted of dredge piles left over from mining operations.

Solution: Developer David O'Neil and architects Tom Lyon and John Wolff spent three years convincing authorities that the Wellington Neighborhood, a carefully designed scheme for 122 mostly single-family residences, would enhance the town and avoid sprawl. It feels like a Currier & Ives village come to life. More than 70 freestanding two-story houses in six configurations ― from two-bedroom duplexes of 1,000 square feet to four-bedroom dwellings of 1,800 square feet ― have been built so far.

Special effects:
• The houses are organized around a series of "green courts," or small parks, which establish the village character and provide safe places for children to play. Garages are on rear alleys.

• The gabled roofs, broad front porches, picket fences, and simple ornamental details echo the Victorian-era architecture of historic downtown Breckenridge. Inside, each house boasts an open kitchen and family room.

• Affordability. Single-family homes range from $225,000 to $395,000, less than half of the area's median.