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Design Workshop on 50 Years in Business and Colorado

The landscape architecture and urban design firm started in Aspen, Colorado in 1969


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Founded in 1969 in Aspen, Colorado, Design Workshop has contributed to the landscape architecture and urban design and planning of some of the state’s bigger projects. This includes creating the master, multi-use plan for Pikes Peak, Millennium Park and bridge in downtown Denver, Festival Park in downtown Castle Rock, the redevelopment of Lowry Airport and its park, the Riverfront Park area near Union Station and Zephyr Plaza in Winter Park.

Since its founding, the company has grown to have seven offices across the country — including Aspen and Denver — and 110 employees. The firm works on a variety of projects including mountain resorts, but mainly works in urban settings. What sets it apart, however, is the complexity of the projects it works on and its process, says Becky Zimmermann, president of Design Workshop.

The process, called DW Legacy Design, refers to the “integration of environment, community, economic, and art and bringing those four elements to every project,” she says. “We’ve found, through research and studying, that the results of these efforts over fifty years that it’s those things that really create projects that last for future generations.”

As Design Workshop celebrates 50 years, Zimmermann reflects on how the state of Colorado and the city of Denver have changed and what needs to happen in the next half-decade. And, over the past 50 years, Zimmermann sees that Denver has been “kind of on track with a lot of national trends.”

“We certainly see things relating to the environmental and social equity issues are really important,” Zimmermann says. “So we’re spending a lot of research and brain power and innovation really exploring and looking for solutions with social equity.”

As far as the next 50 years, she is hopeful that changes will begin with mobility such as improved bike lanes, alternative types of transportation and mass transit. “I think mobility has such a significant impact on development and development patterns,” she says.

But the most important and pivotal years to determining what the next half-century will look like in Colorado, will be the next five years. “The reason I say that is just because of the tremendous growth that we’ve been experiencing and is certainly projected to continue.” Zimmermann says, adding that the way the state responds politically and the planning and design response will play an important role.

What will be truly critical though will be the state’s — and especially the urban areas’  ability to maintain our connection to the outdoors. “We just can’t lose sight that we live in a beautiful state and the connection to the outdoors - I think that’s the key to the next 50 years is to make sure that we really cherish the green space, the parks and increase urban tree canopy,” she says.

Currently, Design Workshop is working on a number of Denver-Colorado projects. This includes a condominium project in Cherry Creek, Boulevard One at the Lowry Airport and Barefoot Lakes and Peninsula Park in Firestone, Colorado.

“We’ve always been about creating projects for future generations and I think that gets more and more difficult over time, but it’s still a big mission of ours,” Zimmermann says.

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Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

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