Interview with Ryan Stone, East West Partners
For more than fifty years Design Workshop has provided landscape architecture, planning, urban design and strategic services to clients in North America and throughout the world. We are committed to creating special places that meet today's needs and are sustainable environments for all time. We wouldn’t have been able to work on all of these incredible projects without our clients. Today, we would like you to meet one of these amazing clients – Ryan Stone, Managing Partner – Steamboat Springs, Colo. at East West Partners. We are working with Ryan and the East West Partners team along with the Steamboat Ski Resort Corporation and Alterra Mountain Company on the Gondola Plaza redesign project.
What sets East West Partners apart?
We create terrific places that are focused on meaningful experiences for people. The Steamboat Gondola Plaza redesign project is a great example of this as the design and development of it is driven by human interaction. How will people use the space? What can be done to make the space more accessible to all? Our primary focus is on enhancing the customer experience in the built environment at Gondola Plaza from start to finish. Spectacular architectural elements certainly enhance the customer experience but placemaking is even more critical to it.
The other element that sets East West apart is our belief in living where we work. In any market where we have a project, we have a full-time person living and working in the community. This helps us fully engrain ourselves in it and truly understand the community on a local level. I’ve recently made Steamboat my full-time home.
What is your connection to Steamboat?
My wife has been visiting Steamboat since she was a child. She introduced me to this incredible town in the early 2000s and we have been visiting ever since. We’ve always wanted to retire here so when there was an opportunity to relocate here full-time, we leaned into it. I enjoy the Steamboat vibe. It’s a town first and a resort second.
Why did East West Partners decide to dive deep into Steamboat?
Five years ago, a group of us were sitting around a table at a company-wide meeting when Harry Frampton, our founder, asked us where East West Partners should be investing. With the caveat that I had no idea at the time if it was a smart investment, I suggested Steamboat. We only take on projects where there is a significant investment in the community so we had to wait until the timing was right. When we found out Alterra was interested in making a meaningful investment in updating the Steamboat Ski Resort, we jumped at the opportunity to be part of this project. We see it as a catalyst for further investment in the resort and town over the next several years.
What are you most excited about for the redevelopment of the base area?
That is an easy one. Gondola Plaza. It is going to be the hub of Steamboat Ski Resort and drive the revitalization of the rest of the resort. We refer to it as the “power of the plaza.” For years, locals and visitors have lacked a place to gather at the resort as the current Gondola Square space is convoluted and challenging to navigate. Gondola Plaza will change that.
Why did you select Design Workshop?
Overall, I like and respect the work they have produced, but I will share three specific reasons. First, I worked with the Design Workshop team on a great plaza project at 16th and Wewatta in downtown Denver. They brought creative ideas and solutions to the table at every juncture. Secondly, they have significant master planning experience at other Colorado resorts – Snowmass and Vail to name a few. Thirdly, they had done work with Steamboat before so they are well-versed in the nuances of the resort and understand the client.
How has Design Workshop assisted with creating the vision?
Design Workshop has been instrumental at taking the whole picture into consideration, including feedback from multiple parties to drive the development of the master plan. The vision for this main plaza was originally a building but thanks to Design Workshop’s work, it’s evolved to be a plaza space that everyone can use. We focused on taking the best spot at the resort and turning it into a space that benefits all. It’s been a fun collaboration between us. When I send Becky Zimmermann my rough drawings of ideas that come to me in the middle of the night, she and the Design Workshop team are open to brainstorming together to ensure we create the best master plan. It is a true partnership in creating the vision for Steamboat Ski Resort.
If you could describe Design Workshop in one sentence, what would it be?
Design Workshop is a group of creative, collaborators who take curve balls and roll with them to create the best possible outcomes.