Last week’s snowfall has begun capping Aspen’s peaks and slopes with a white glisten, and the city’s anticipation for the mountain openings has begun. A symbol of Herbert Bayer’s architectural touch in the area will soon be brimming with skiers and sightseers: the Sundeck. While the original design has been replaced with a building of greater capacity and accessibility, this time of year reminds us to appreciate the original 1946 structure with its 360° view of the high Rockies and effort toward sustainable design.

(Images courtesy of the Willoughby Collection)

The original geometric warming hut featured a water collection system build into its rooftop, but winds atop the peak proved too high for snow to collect, and water had to be brought in by sled and Caterpillar via mining roads until a water system was installed the following year. The design optimized heating from a central fireplace without obstructing views from anywhere in the building, a balance of beauty and function characteristic of Bayer’s Bauhaus background.

As years went on, the structure received additions for restaurant space that compromised the original design and eventually was demolished for an entirely new building, but the original is fondly remembered as an iconic work of Aspen’s resident Bauhaus émigré.

 (Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz Ahoi Herbert!: Bayer und die Moderne Bibliothek der Pronvinz Verlag, 2009, p. 328.)

Written by MAX STOCKMAN