the Idarado Legacy project
Purpose of Project
The fundamental purpose of the Idarado Legacy project is to create a redevelopment plan for a former
mining site. The client for the Master Plan is the Idarado Mining Company.
Conceived as a gold mining company, Idarado is a combination of ‘Idaho’ and ‘Colorado.’ In 1955, after
acquiring several smaller mining companies, the Idarado Mining Company located its headquarters and
milling operations in Telluride, Colorado. Their holdings reached approximately 7,500 acres in Ouray and
San Miguel Counties. In the late 1970’s, mining ceased to be profitable and operations were suspended.
In the 1990’s Idarado began a full-scale remediation effort its properties and having successfully
completing the initial phases, Idarado gained approval for disposition of its land. They hired the landscape
architects to complete a plan providing a positive outcome for its land, itself and the community.
Role of the Landscape Architect
The landscape architects began their process by gathering and analyzing data, conducting extensive site
visits and exploring various possibilities for the land. Scoping sessions were held with community user
groups such as the San Miguel Conservation Foundation, San Miguel Open Space Commission, San
Miguel Housing Authority, and community leaders. After listening closely to what was said at these
meetings, the landscape architects conceived of the idea of leaving a legacy – a gift to the community by
creating a plan that balanced social, economic and environmental needs in a sustainable manner. Much
more than a development plan, this was about the preservation of a community’s heritage and lifestyle.
The landscape architects, as the prime consultants, lead and managed a team that included architects, civil
engineers, surveyors, wetland and wildlife experts, cultural and historical resource consultants, traffic
engineers, geo-technical engineers, and a geo-hazard expert. Additional team members included legal
counsel, marketing consultants, and a computer simulation expert.
Special Factors and Significance
Preservation and innovation
Idarado’s holdings include Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest waterfall in Colorado and one of its main
attractions, and Ajax Mountain, the backdrop to Telluride’s main street. Preservation of views to these
and other prominent landscape features is a high priority and requires strict adherence to the plan’s design
guidelines. The completed plan is an alternative to traditional mountain development wherein over 95%
of the plan provides for public benefit. All development occurs in the valley adjacent to town and all of
the ‘high country’ is protected. In all, over 7,000 acres is either transferred to the Trust for Public Land
for permanent protection or to the Town of Telluride for a high-country park system. By balancing the
environmental and community needs with those of the client, the plan provides a sustainable foundation
loaded with memory and culture.
Throughout the process, an open and on-going dialogue was maintained with the community, allowing
constant and considerable input into the plan. The community identified their main objectives as: open
space and trails, cultural, historical and environmental preservation, and affordable housing.
Open Space and Trails
The project’s trail system is integrated with and expands on the town’s existing system. A community
trail runs parallel with the main road to the mill and an interpretive trail follows the old slurry trail to tell
the story of the region’s mining history and the on-going environmental remediation process. The massive
tailings piles, the physical remains of mining, have been revegetated with native, drought-tolerant grasses
and their use is designated as permanent open-space.
Historical and Cultural Resources
Historic and cultural resources were identified, mapped, and a preservation plan was generated, in which
one of its main assets, the Pandora mill, built in 1929, is readapted as an eco-cultural repository
containing mining and ecological exhibits. Across the road, the former mining office becomes a museum
detailing the mining process – from its inception to the current-day process of environmental restoration.
Additionally, the on-going environmental restoration process is interpreted to the public through
environmental remediation components such as the infiltration pools that naturally cleanse water captured
from the miles of former mine shafts.
Center to the development plan is affordable housing, known as the Liberty Bell site, adjacent to town. A
total of sixty-seven units are provided in the form of townhomes, single-family, and multi-family units.
This equates to one-half of all proposed development in the plan whereas only one unit is required under
the Town’s development code. The units are centered around a public park that contains a community
building readapted from an historic mining building, a bus stop for the transit loop to town, and the
preserved ruins of the historic Liberty Bell Mill.
Responsibility to the Client
The market-rate development products are the economic generators that allow the other parts of the plan
to succeed. Idarado’s development partner determined the right mix of product and the landscape
architects sensitively incorporated the dwellings into the site while protecting vegetation and views. The
Mining Camp, located near the mill, is a cluster of cabins designed in a mining architecture vernacular;
the Pandora and Bridal Veil lots, located in the middle of the site, offers one to two acres nestled into the
landscape with premium views and dedicated parking in town (thus easing the town’s parking burden);
and the Kentucky Placer condominiums are located as an extension to the town and offers ski-in
opportunities within walking distance to the entire town.
Photo description sheet
1. At 365 feet, Bridal Veil Falls is Colorado’s highest waterfall. It one just one of the many
natural features that is part of the preservation effort defined in the Idarado Legacy
2. Ajax and Telluride Peaks stand tall as the backdrop to Telluride, Colorado. The Idarado
Mining Company owns all of the land viewed in the photo outside of the town’s
3. Much more than a development plan, the Idarado Legacy project is about preserving the
natural and cultural history of the region. Over 7,000 acres are transferred to public
4. Site plan of the annexation area. The Kentucky Placer is a direct extension of town;
Liberty Bell offers affordable housing within walking distance of town; Pandora and
Bridal Veil are located discretely in pockets of disturbed landscape; the Mining Camp
integrates within the mining vernacular of the former mill site; and the Pandora Mill is
readapted into a public facility.
5. The trails plan is an extension of the town’s existing system and tells the story of how
mining created a town and fueled a nation.
6. The Pandora Mill is readapted into a public facility to tell the environmental, cultural and
historical stories of mining.
7. The infiltration pools are enlarged and offer artistic interpretations of the processes
8. Visitors are offered opportunities to engage themselves with the infiltration pools and the
sculptural additions and interpretive information explaining the environmental processes
that take place in the aftermath of mining.
9. The former Liberty Bell Mill site will be transformed into a dense cluster of affordable
housing taking advantage of the existing landscape, solar orientation, and magnificent
10. The site plan of the Liberty Bell Mill site shows the location of the mixture of single-family,
multi-family, and townhouse units along with the public amenities that include
the community park, bus shelter, community building and the historic remains of the
Liberty Bell Mill.
11. The Mining Camp site plan offers a unique opportunity for residents and visitors alike to
see the thoughtful design strategy of integrating the historical remnants of mining with
the proposed development.
12. The Kentucky Placer condominiums are an extension of the town and existing units of
the same scale. Underground parking is offered to the homeowners in the development to
take the burden away from the town’s already-strained parking condition.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.