University of Colorado Denver

College of Architecture and Planning

Web Design by baDesign

University of Colorado Denver | College of Architecture & Planning | Web Design by baDesign


Located on a steep hillside in a lodgepole pine forest, these cabins were designed as micro dormitories for the Colorado Outward Bound School. The cabins sit lightly on the landscape, directing views from private spaces towards trees, rock outcroppings and distant mountain views of the Mosquito Range. More public “community” views are directed into social spaces that develop from the organization of the cabins in relationship to one another. These community spaces are made up of front porches and the negative spaces between cabins.

To satisfy clients’ lodging and storage requirements, and to facilitate completion in three weeks of on-site construction, the cabins were conceived as two separate elements, a “box” and a “frame”. The “frame” acts as a storage device for the educators’ large gear (bikes, skis, kayaks, etc.) while simultaneously housing the cabin “box” and covered porches. The prefabricated cabin “box” rests in the frame under the protection of a “snow roof” designed to keep the winter snow load off the waterproofed roof below. Hot rolled steel provides a low maintenance rain screen for the box.  This steel cladding and the vertical columns blend with the lodgepole forest minimizing the visual impact of the cabins. Structural taped glazing on the windows eliminates mullions and connects the occupants directly with natural views.

The interior of the cabin is skinned in CNC’d birch plywood bringing warmth to the interior and evoking a connection with the trees surrounding the site. The plywood is specifically milled to accommodate desks, beds and storage for each user. The walls and CNC’d plywood were prefabricated in Denver, flat packed onto trucks and shipped to Leadville to shorten the on-site construction timeline.

2015 American Institute of Architects Colorado Honor Award
2015 American Institute of Architects Colorado Citation Award
2015-2016 ACSA Design-Build Award


Rick Sommerfeld
Scott Lawrence
JD Signom
Jordan Vaughn

Structural Engineer:
Andy Paddock

Maymester Students:
Becca Barenblat
Jeff D'Addario
Sam Palmer-Dwore

Derek Ackley
Sidney Aulds
Brent Beicker
Matthew Breen
Andrew Brown
John Giddens
Brandon Gossard
Aaron Gray
Dane Hardy
Chad Holmes
Casandra Huff
Mark Hurni
Timo Jyrinki
Rachel Koleski

Kate Lucas
Nathan Moore
Matt Ollmann
Aleka Pappas
Holly Paris
Nathan Pepper
Kit Piane
Ken Roberts
Louisa Sanford
Joe Stainbrook
Brandon Sweeney
Phil Stuen
Amanda Tharp
Elliott Watenpaugh