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Vail Public Library

Original 15,000 sq. ft. project completed in 1983
An interior renovation and extension completed in 2012

In 1980 The Town of Vail Public Library in Vail, Colorado held a design competition in which Snowdon & Hopkins Architects won the project.  When it was built in 1983, it had the largest green roof west of the Mississippi River and employed many of the best-practice green design principles of the time, such as daylighting, an earth-sheltered roof with a thermally efficient structure, and fantastic integration with and visual connection to the wonderful site.  Responding to the needs of the community, the library quickly became a beloved landmark for town residents and visitors alike.

The library won the National Biennial AIA/ ALA award in 1985 as the unanimous choice of both the librarians and architects on the jury. The jury wrote that the library “evokes the duality of rustic informality and sophisticated library planning” and called the building “architecture of the landscape… an earth-sheltered energy-efficient design [that] responds appropriately to its awesome setting without making a self-conscious statement.”


In 2010, Snowdon & Hopkins was asked again to help with a 2,500 sq. ft. extension and renovation. The interior remodel scope involved updating the mechanical and lighting systems and developing a new space plan with additional, improved computer stations, literacy and teen areas, and additional book and AV display stacks for an enlarged collection.

This was all completed the spring of 2013. To even further bolster its green credentials, some of the changes included upgrading all the lighting with new energy efficient fixtures meeting the State of Colorado’s Energy Code, Shaw LEED certified carpet square tiles, re-use of existing concrete pavers for the new walkways, and the re-use of the existing oak wood slat ceiling panels which were cleaned and adapted to fit the new interior layout.  The paint was VOC  free.  The library, now over 30 years old, is still an important and beautiful icon for the Town of Vail and a well-loved building used by locals and visitors of all ages.

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