Located in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, Annie Mitchell Homestead provides environmentally conscientious, affordable housing for Aspen’s active work force. Top priorities for the project were providing open, attractive one-bedroom units at a reasonable cost to area singles and young couples. Annie Mitchell joins a circa-1970’s mixed-use neighborhood in Aspen’s Airport Business Center. The project site, owned by the City of Aspen, is tightly constrained by a road to one side, a hillside to the rear, and a lumberyard in front. These boundaries helped shape the site plan comprised of three building clusters each with a parking garage below and 11 or more dwelling units stacked on two levels above. The site’s steep slope allowed the garages to be partially below grade. To comply with the Fair Housing Act’s requirement for accessible units, an enclosed lift is located in each garage for access to the first level of dwelling units.
The layout of the site plan minimized site disturbance and provided the opportunity for each building cluster to have a sunny common patio facing the private hillside. There are also bike racks, a common car wash area, and additional visitor parking on site. The building’s roof forms integrate into the hillside and blend with neighboring commercial structures. Annie Mitchell’s exterior colors evoke the brown, green, and gray tones found in the natural environs while red and gold accent colors mirror fall foliage on the adjacent hillside. The project’s design recalls Aspen’s early ranching and agricultural heritage. The project is within walking distance to businesses, restaurants, a small grocery store, and the local bus route. An extension of the city bike/pedestrian path through the neighborhood connects Annie Mitchell to points up and down the valley. There is also river access through an adjoining property. Annie Mitchell’s buildings are oriented away from Aspen’s commercial area and toward mountain views and solar exposure.
Each unit has a private deck with a sun-shading trellis that doubles as a privacy screen to the neighboring commercial site. Solar hot water panels on the roofs supplement the hot water baseboard and domestic hot water system. All units are Energy Star certified and have Energy Star appliances, allowing owners to receive a rebate from CORE (Community Office of Resource Efficiency). Energy efficient strategies used to meet the Energy Star criteria included blown-in cellulose and extensive foam air sealing. Each of the three building clusters has an indirect water heater and a sequentially staged efficient boiler. The project does not have mechanical air conditioning. Upper floor units have skylights for added daylighting and compact fluorescent bulbs are used for all interior fixtures except in bathrooms. All these measures result in the project exceeding the requirements of Aspen’s Efficient Building Program. For reduced maintenance and building longevity, the project used quality durable materials including: aluminum clad wood windows; metal roofing with a minimum 20-year life expectancy; fiber cement siding; solid core interior doors; metal grip strut elevated walkways; Trex reclaimed wood and plastic decking; and concrete landscape features. Recycling during construction and educating owners for post-occupancy recycling was a major goal of the project. The asphaltic concrete removed from the site was recycled, as was 75% of all wood scrap, 90% of all metal scrap, and 75% of all cardboard. The project uses 100% recycled content carpet and cellulose insulation. The building roofs are made of recycled metal and every unit has a built-in recycling center with two bins. For reduced resource use, the project incorporated optimum value engineering framing techniques such as two-stud corners and maximized stud spacing. For improved indoor air quality through pollutant source control, no added formaldehyde was used in floors, roofs, or cabinetry. Interior paint is no VOC, resilient flooring is linoleum over cork, and solvent-free non-toxic construction adhesives were used. In addition, the mechanical rooms are sealed to be airtight from the living spaces and the garages have mechanical ventilation. Bathroom exhaust fans provide moisture management and ventilation within the units. To avoid potential moisture problems in the exterior walls, they are designed to dry to the exterior when they do take on moisture. Water conservation and management includes a reduction of all turf areas and the use of plants and native grasses with a low water demand. The plant beds are mulched with wood chips at least 2” deep with drip irrigation and a sensor for shut-off during rain. Engineered vegetated swales filter storm water run-off.
Annie Mitchell’s hard construction cost of $144/sf illustrates that green can be built affordably even in extremely expensive housing markets like Aspen. Because of the project’s success, the architect, developer, and the City of Aspen will use Annie Mitchell Homestead as a great example of how to build more green affordable housing projects. Lessons Learned from the Architect - The blown-in cellulose was a dream to work with. Our subcontractor was able to recycle all the waste material generated during installation. The added plus of cellulose we didn't anticipate was how dramatically it cut down on outside noise. Even before our walls were rocked, the units were so quiet. Being in close proximity to the airport makes this benefit even more valuable to our residents!
|Green Features||Annie Mitchell Homestead|
|Access to Public Transportation||The project is within walking distance to the local bus route.|
|Compact Development||The project density it 14.2 units per acre.|
|Passive Heating and/or Cooling||Annie Mitchell’s buildings are oriented for solar exposure.|
|Daylighting||Upper floor units have skylights for added daylighting.|
|High Performance WIndows||Aluminum clad low e double glazed wood windows.|
|Energy Efficiency Heating and Cooling||Sequentially staged efficient boiler, there is no air conditioning.|
|Energy Star Appliances/Lighting||All units are equipped with Energy Star Appliances.|
|Renewable Energy||Solar hot water panels on the roofs supplement the hot water baseboard and domestic hot water system.|
|Stormwater Management||Engineered vegetated swales filter storm water run-off.|
|Water Efficient Landscaping||There is a reduction of all turf areas and plants and native grasses with a low water demand were used. The plant beds are mulched with wood chips at least 2” deep with drip irrigation and a sensor for shut-off during rain.|
|Recycled Content Materials||The project uses 100% recycled content carpet and cellulose insulation and the building roofs are made of recycled metal.The asphaltic concrete removed from the site was recycled, as was 75% of all wood scrap; 90% of all metal scrap; and 75% of all cardboard. and every unit has a built-in recycling center with two bins.|
|Low VOC Materials||No added formaldehyde was used in floors, roofs, or cabinetry. Interior paint is no VOC, resilient flooring is linoleum over cork and solvent-free non-toxic construction adhesives were used.|