The Fireweed Hostel, also known as the Moores-Collins Family Lodge, brings a remote, live-in alpine research station to one of Colorado’s most venerable mountain research programs, established in 1920. Located at the University of Colorado’s Mountain Research Station (MRS) – where an interdisciplinary team advances the study of mountain ecosystems – the hostel integrates Smart classrooms with a lodge-style living environment, and represents the final phase of master planned construction on a site which also includes an observatory, climate stations, and several smaller individual cabins.
The lodge contains dormitory-style sleeping areas for 32 in 8 rooms, full showers/restrooms, classroom and meeting spaces for 70, and kitchen/dining facilities. Significant seasonal fluctuations in the MRS population led to winterized flexible spaces which meet both higher summer and lower winter populations.
Recognizing a growing need for larger scale, modernized housing and meeting facilities on their high-altitude campus, the University of Colorado retained Barrett Studio architects to find a high performance solution. Working at an exacting 9600’ above sea level, climatological response was of utmost importance. Passive solar design & energy collection was employed via a trombe wall system and eave design to control daylight gain, ensuring high efficiency. A systematized building system integrates pre-manufactured beams and columns with an R50 structurally integrated panel wall system to meet the challenges of budget, severe climate, and a short building season. Earth integration and high efficiency radiant floor heating complete the myriad features of this comfortable extreme-environment living and learning lodge. Detailed digital renderings assisted in site placement studies, as well as fundraising efforts.
The facilities are open to educational groups outside of the University’s system, and have been used by the USGS, the NPS, and by the Boulder Valley School District to introduce K-12 students to field-based environmental science.