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Telluride Transfer Warehouse By LTL Architects
When browsing architecture projects, some stand out to me for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the project may be poor but the photographer has composed some beautiful photography, or the firm has produced some stunning renders. Of course, this is a superficial appreciation for a building. I may like the images, however as a user I might despise the building, or it may leak, or overheat. For this reason, I try to examine buildings more closely to really see if they are a success within their context before deciding to feature them on this blog. This is where the value of an architect’s vision comes in. With some projects, it is immediately clear that the vision of the architect is truly holistic. They have considered every aspect and impact of their design, from the local ecology to the community, to the economy, to the history. This is the case with the winning entry for the Telluride Transfer Warehouse competition, by LTL Architects.
Telluride is a small Victorian mining town in Colorado, which has a population of approximately 2,400 people. The Transfer Warehouse has a rich history, being built in 1906 and serving as a barn, warehouse and office over the decades. However, since 1950 it has been allowed to fall into disrepair and is now in desperate need of conservation. Fortunately, it has been earmarked for sensitive renovation and conversion into a community arts venue. The idea for the warehouse is as follows:
"The warehouse will be an extraordinary home for arts and ideas at the heart of our community. The sandstone of the national historic landmark will encase stunning contemporary spaces that will host programming that advances the intellectual and cultural life of Telluride."
So how does a building go from a vacant, crumbling shell to a bustling, attractive and vibrant arts centre? Step in LTL Architects…
The firm have designed a deceptively simple scheme, consisting of a timber ark-like structure that will fit inside the existing sandstone walls after they have been repaired and restored. The ark does not fill the sandstone walls, creating an open atrium which will contain a tree, referencing one that has been growing inside the shell for the last 40 years. This arrangement of masses creates a number of privacy thresholds, which is important in a building where it is likely that multiple different activities will be taking place at any one time. It also clearly distinguishes the old from the new, reinforcing the rich history of the warehouse shell and encouraging visitors to discover more.
The previous axonometric does a disservice to the technical skill of the architects in fitting such a complex form into the warehouse and making it work spacially. Various levels, different specialist demands such as acoustics and dimensions for different rooms and the unstable and fixed warehouse walls all increase the complexity of the design. These aspects only strengthen my admiration for the architects.
Sadly, it is often the case that historical gems such as the Transfer Warehouse are demolished without second thought to make way for dull and typical residential blocks or offices that have been copy and pasted from another project in a different location. For this reason, projects such as the Telluride Transfer Warehouse fill me with joy and hope. When qualified I hope to work on similar schemes due to their sustainable and lasting positive impact on the local community, both visually with an interesting addition to the urban fabric but more importantly socially through the creation of opportunities for communities to collaborate, learn and bond. Between them, the client and LTL Architects have designed a wonderful scheme that I am sure will contribute to the charming and optimistic narrative that is embedded in the Telluride Transfer Warehouse.

You can read more information about the project on the Telluride Arts website.