Regional/Urban Planning

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Denver, Colorado

Transforming a Superfund site into one of the country’s largest urban wildlife refuge

How do you successfully clean up and conserve land, protect and manage wildlife habitat, provide meaningful public use and facilitate successful public engagement and public/private partnerships? Design Workshop led the team that tackled these questions for the approximately 20,000-acre site of a former arsenal complex that manufactured chemical and biological weapons on the urban fringe of Denver. We completed a comprehensive management plan that set a precedent for the creation of a new ecosystem – where living ecologies coexist with cultural and recreational components. What was once one of the most contaminated sites in the country is now a national treasure. Wildlife is flourishing - over 330 animal species take refuge here, and there are over 300,000 annual visitors. The Refuge has boosted the property values of surrounding development and provides environmental education for over 10,000 students annually. It is a legacy project – one of the first examples of successful urban ecology – where the natural and man-made worlds coexist harmoniously.

Awards

  • 2018 ASLA National, The Landmark Award
  • 1997 ASLA Colorado, Honor Award

Collaborators

ERO Resources Corporation, BBC Research & Consulting, Big River Associates, CW&H Graphics, Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, OZ Architecture

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