UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Prairie Gateway, community, history and prairie : a design for a prairie landscape : Commerce City, Colorado Golden, Shira B.


The City of Commerce City, Colorado intends to develop a 940 acre disturbed prairie grassland site, called Prairie Gateway adjacent to the 27 square mile Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. A feasibility study has been conducted to assess economic and community development opportunities for Prairie Gateway that would support Refuge activities and provide a unique amenity for Commerce City residents and visitors. A preliminary site design has been proposed and initial costing and facility needs have been developed for a variety of program options. This design thesis builds on these previous studies and outlines a site concept for Prairie Gateway based on biophysical, social and historical data. The notion of prairie was explored in terms of art and literature to help better understand and design an appropriate and meaningful prairie experience. A review of several precedents for design on prairie landscapes was conducted to help in creating a site specific design language for Prairie Gateway. A series of design principles - spatial, design detail and program components were developed as building blocks for the proposal, and recur throughout at a variety of scales from planning to detailed design. Much of the Prairie Gateway design is linked to the concept of reconnection to prairie in terms of community, history and prairie experience. Spatially, at the planning scale, the design references the patterns of settlement based on the surveyed grid of the American West. At the more detailed scale the design incorporates a materials palette of the vernacular prairie farm including rough stone, brick, adobe and corrugated metal. The Prairie Gateway design includes a concept plan for the mile square portion of the site, a conceptual plan for a public park and visitor's complex, a schematic plan for an educational centre and lodge, a site plan for the lodge and detailed drawings for program areas within the lodge complex. Each portion of the design references the overall design and program principles developed during the analysis phase. Ideally, these principles can be used to guide future work on Prairie Gateway in order to create a holistic and integrated design.

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