Snowmass Base Village – Vision Becomes Reality

snowmass plaza
The public plaza will be completed in time for the upcoming ski season.


The idea for a pedestrian-oriented village at the base of Snowmass Ski Area has been percolating since the resort opened in 1967. The concept was first articulated by iconic Aspen architect and developer Fritz Benedict who helped draw up the initial plans, and it has been talked about ever since.

john calhoun

John Calhoun
Vice President of sales and marketing, East West Partners

Fifty years after Snowmass opened for skiing, three Colorado-based companies — East West Partners, the Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital — are working to complete the vision for Snowmass Base Village, a $600 million residential and commercial development that is pedestrian- and skier-oriented at the base of Snowmass Ski Area.

Construction is simultaneously underway on five buildings and a public plaza that will make up the heart of the reimagined Snowmass Base Village, with multiple crews working to complete three of the buildings and the plaza in this phase.

The Limelight will join the Westin and Viceroy as the third major slopeside hotel at Snowmass.

Two buildings and the public plaza will be completed for the winter ski season, including the 99-room Limelight Snowmass Hotel & Residences, and the exclusive three-unit Lumin building that features a penthouse with 360-degree views of the resort and surrounding peaks. Lumin also will house a new Four Mountain Sports on the plaza level. These buildings surround the public plaza that will be home to a public ice rink in the winter and an events lawn including pop-up children’s fountains in the summer.

The other two buildings under construction include a community center, which is a proposed multipurpose building with a restaurant and bar, a flexible event space, the Mastadon Discovery area and a kids’ game room; and One Snowmass, which is the final building under construction featuring 41 residences, a welcome center, medical center, yoga studio and some retail/restaurant space.

“We have more under construction now than we ever will,” says Andy Gunion, who heads up the development team for East West.

When the three partners bought the development in 2016, they inherited a site plan conceived by Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. back in 2004. The project as approved called for a village that fit with the resort development model of that time. But people’s expectations and sensibilities have changed over the last 15 years, so the new owners had to rethink the concept of a resort village.

They began by hiring different teams of architects and interior designers to work on each building, a break from past practices in resort design. The line up of firms hired by East West is formidable: OZ Architecture and Stonehill & Taylor are collaborating on the Limelight Hotel, while a different team of architects at OZ and The Ranch House are working on Lumin. 4240 Architects and Styleworks are designing One Snowmass, and Harry Teague Architects is behind the community center.

“This brings a diversity in design that is meant to provide Snowmass Base Village with a more organic feel,” said East West Partners founder and chairman Harry Frampton.

East West has also rethought the interior elements of a resort condominium. Kitchen and dining areas are located at the center of the living space featuring the best views.

“We think food and wine and dining are an integral part of a quality overall experience,” Frampton explained, “creating inviting spaces for families and friends to come together and share experiences. So the living room, den, dining room and kitchen are all together where people can gather and have the kind of purposeful interaction they’re seeking. We call it the ‘One Space’ concept.”

When completed, Snowmass Base Village not only will remake the very concept of a resort village — it also will change Snowmass Village, the community that has grown up around the ski area.

The Limelight Hotel includes a public, glass-enclosed, five-story climbing wall next to the entrance, and a wide open lobby and indoor/outdoor lounge with food and beverage service that is meant to be the community living room. The public plaza and the community building right outside the hotel are designed to draw visitors and residents alike. Frampton for one hopes it will become the town square in the European tradition.

“We are working to create a place where existing owners and visitors all over Snowmass feel comfortable going, not just the people who buy a place in Snowmass Base Village,” Frampton said.

The Limelight, which joins the Westin and Viceroy as the third major slopeside hotel at Snowmass, features 11 whole ownership condominiums, six of which have been sold ahead of the building’s completion. The Limelight also will house the Snowmass Mountain Club, which offers members parking, valet and concierge services, social activities, a lounge, lockers and ski-in/ ski-out access to the mountain.

Lumin, with just three units, will be the most exclusive building in Snowmass Village. It features a 3,284-square-foot, four-bedroom penthouse that has spacious decks and floor-to-ceiling windows that bring Mount Daly and other peaks of the Elk Range into the living space. The condos are each served by a private elevator and are literally steps away from the Elk Camp Gondola.

When One Snowmass is completed in fall 2019, the entrance to the resort will be transformed with two buildings that feature a contemporary architectural design that is inspired by the midcentury ski lodges in Banff and the Bauhaus techniques of Aspen artist and architect Herbert Bayer, whose designs from the 1950s still define Aspen.

“This is a chance to create a development at the base of a mountain in the middle of what is already a great community,” said Frampton. “There are not many places you can do that – this is a unique and special opportunity.”

Published in the September 2018 issue of Building Dialogue.

Edited by Building Dialogue