Olson Kundig, the architectural firm selected by Telluride Arts to transform the roofless Transfer Warehouse from just four walls to a more usable arts and community space, announced that two of its projects have been honored with 2022 AIA Housing Awards. The awards, which recognize exceptional residential design were given for the firm’s work on Costa Rica Treehouse and for Rio House.

According to the firm’s website, the Costa Rica Treehouse is a carbon positive home built with timber that sequesters more CO2 than is emitted by the other building materials.

“Designed to operate passively, the home can breathe and remain open to the environment. The top and bottom floors open completely to the elements with a double-screen operable wood shutter system that allows daylight and natural ventilation, but also provides privacy and security when the owners are away,” the firm’s website states.

The Rio House, located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is described as “essentially a steel-and-glass box, the house hovers above the land supported structurally by two concrete piers, one of which is a fireplace. The home is designed for natural ventilation with a roof hatch, pivot windows and retractable window walls with insect screens. The manual operation of these gizmos, as well as a solar water heating system, allow the home to function during intermittent power outages.”

Tom Kundig led each of the projects, partnering with fellow Olson Kundig design principal Kevin Kudo-King on the Rio House. It is Kundig who designed the plans for the Transfer Warehouse.

“Residential design is the foundation of my work, so it’s a deep honor to be recognized by the AIA Housing Awards program,” Kundig said. “I’m especially grateful for the vision of each of our clients, to live simply within a dramatic landscape, and for the opportunity to explore new places and new ideas. Projects like these serve as a laboratory for exploration and experimentation and discovery — other projects in other typologies at vastly different scales are directly informed by what we learn from residential design.”

In February, Telluride Arts hosted a “Pole Party,” an opportunity for the public to see the initial designs, get a sense of the scope of the project, and hear from Kundig, as well as Telluride Arts staff and board member.

As reported in a previous Daily Planet story, the plans are subject to change, but currently include an enclosed space covering two-thirds of the area. The enclosed space will have a large glass door that opens like a tilt-up-and-over-canopy garage door. When open, the door connects the open-air foyer at the entrance and can be closed during inclement weather. In addition to the enclosed space on the main floor, a rooftop and basement level will be added. Telluride Arts excavated a small portion of the previous basement level to the right of the warehouse, which had been filled in with rubble.

The design will ease the challenges of hosting events open to the elements, as well as displaying art. Additionally, it will create more useable space than what is currently functional in the dirt floored, roofless 1906 stone building.

“We want to create a completely flexible building that can be adaptable for all sorts of different artistic disciplines, from music, to film, to art installations, to art exhibitions. We want it to be a place for creativity to flourish in this very adaptable space,” Telluride Arts Executive Director Kate Jones told the Planet in February.

Telluride Arts selected Olson Kundig in 2019.

“Olson Kundig has a quieter, more modest approach to the restoration of the building that will allow the warehouse to be the warehouse — rustic, open-air and still gritty — and yet increases the usability exponentially with flexible, acoustic and climate-controlled spaces,” Jones said.

The Transfer Warehouse has been the subject of scrutiny from a number of people in the community, mostly neighbors, who are concerned with noise from music and events the venue hosts. Because it is an open-air venue, its use expanded exponentially during the pandemic, when indoor venues were deemed unsafe. It continues to be a thriving, cultural and community hub, despite concerns expressed by neighbors who say the noise is disruptive. Pushback includes one nearby resident has taken steps to challenge its liquor license approval. An appeal of the approval at a public hearing scheduled for Telluride Town Council’s April 19 meeting.