View of the Proposed VVMC West Wing Expansion on West Meadow Drive


Proposed VVMC West Wing Expansion Underway





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The Proposed VVMC West Wing Expansion is Underway: The anticipated West Wing expansion of the Vail Valley Medical Center (VVMC) has begun moving through the approval process with the presentation to the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission (PEC) of a zoning proposal to allow this phase of the redevelopment to proceed. This is step one of the expansion of the overall VVMC campus, even though the Master Plan for the area is still under review by the Town Council. The VVMC plans to begin construction of this phase of the expansion in the summer of 2015 with completion scheduled for 2017. This specific part of the expansion, shown above, would build southward toward Meadow Drive.

Expansion conflict shown with preserving landscape and mature trees that harmonize VVMC buildings with the adjoining street and neighborhood.


As can be seen from the following renderings, the proposed design would substantially increase the mass of the overall building by adding a fourth floor on the west wing, which is a cause for concern.


Proposed West Wing                                  Expansion Existing Central                          Wing Proposed East Wing

VVMC Unifying Architectural Design Concept As Viewed from West Meadow Drive


Below are photos of the present structure as compared with the proposed redevelopment:









Existing Landscape and Architecture of West Wing Above


Proposed Expansion of West Wing

With a new entrance proposed on the South Frontage Road, the West Wing would become the back side of the VVMC complex. The proposed design would, however, make West Meadow Drive more "commercialized" by pushing out toward the edge of the street and eliminating existing landscaping which currently makes the existing West Wing more compatible with the West Meadow Drive residential neighborhood.


Proposed West Wing bump-out infringes on landscaped area necessary to retain compatibility with adjoining residential neighborhood.


Views of existing and proposed (below) expansion of the VVMC West Wing surface parking lot to be included in redevelopment of Evergreen Hotel.


The Vail PEC has just held its first public discussion of a zoning proposal to allow this project to go forward. While the Vail Homeowners Association supports the expansion of the Medical Center, it believes that it should be done in a way that is responsible and in keeping with the overall qualities of the existing neighborhood. As presently proposed, there are several aspects of the development that could be substantially improved. The proposed West Wing expansion building would move the building to within 3.5 feet of the property line creating a wall effect four stories high.


While a fourth floor would not necessarily render the design objectionable, the VHA believes that the expansion should be compatible and harmonized with the present buildings and the overall aesthetics of the neighborhood. Unfortunately the present plans would eliminate significant landscaping - a number of large, mature trees - that serve to integrate the VVMC into the surrounding neighborhood. The VHA recommends that any zoning approval should be conditioned upon maintaining the present Meadow Drive setbacks and landscaping or even increase the landscaping to soften the industrial nature of the building and make it more compatible with the established characteristics of this section of West Meadow Drive.


The VHA also recommends that the design of the West Wing should be harmonized with the existing structure so that there is a unifying theme in the overall structure as opposed to the hodgepodge of styles that has evolved on the medical center's campus over the past 45 years. The unifying design theme is a recommendation of the proposed VVMC Master Plan.


Crutching on Nonsnow-melted West Meadow Drive TOV Walkway

Extend Snow Melt System for West Meadow Dr TOV Pedestrian Route: Participants at the PEC hearing recommended the need to include VVMC in the Town of Vail's (TOV) snow melt system serving the pedestrian walkway on the north side of West Meadow Drive. With increasing frequency, clients of the VVMC regularly use the West Meadow Drive public pedestrian walkways for rehabilitation therapy. The number of pedestrians on West Meadow Drive public walkways traversing between Vail Village and Lionshead commercial centers has greatly increased in recent years as well.


The Vail Homeowners Association notes that the Town of Vail is exponentially increasing the urban density of the West Meadow Drive neighborhood to the degree that it is now on par with major new redevelopments in Vail Village and Lionshead. Yet, the Town has not committed to provide the same level of public improvements such as providing snow-melted pedestrian walkways as it has already installed throughout the Vail Village and Lionshead neighborhoods.


Mechanical Equipment Noise: The West Wing expansion provides for the relocation of exterior ground level mechanical building ventilation equipment on West Meadow Drive. The noise from this equipment has, for years, been a major source of irritation and complaint from adjacent residents and passersby. The mechanical equipment issue is an example of the lack of foresight and coordinated design of the existing VVMC complex. The offending mechanical equipment was installed after the completion of the West Wing due to a lack of forethought on the part of ventilation engineers. The neighborhood and Homeowners Association places a high priority on ensuring, in the VVMC master plan, that similar oversights do not occur in the future development of the VVMC facilities.


The VVMC Central Wing and West Meadow Drive Streetscape illustrates how trees and landscape have been used to harmonize the existing West Wing with the residential neighborhood.


Design is Critical to Maintain Compatibility: The VVMC West Wing Expansion eliminates large trees which have served to harmonize the medical buildings with the adjacent residential neighborhood. Changes are being requested to soften the institutional appearance of the proposal in an effort to restore a higher degree of aesthetic compatibility with the adjoining West Meadow Drive tourism circulation corridor and residential neighborhood. The correct design, scale and appearance of new development along West Meadow Drive is essential in maintaining a high standard of guest and residential experience in this important link between the Town's two commercial tourism centers.


Urbanizing the West Meadow Drive Neighborhood: The proposed VVMC/Evergreen Hotel land swap and subsequent redevelopment of the Evergreen Hotel would eliminate the large surface parking currently used by VVMC by conveying it to the Evergreen Hotel. In return, VVMC would receive hotel land fronting on the South Frontage Road, which allows all VVMC traffic to enter its campus from the frontage road. A change to the Evergreen Hotel zoning, based upon the land exchange with VVMC, is to be heard by the PEC on March 9th. The PEC is considering tabling the hearing until April 13th since involved parties are continuing discussions regarding the proposed land exchange. The parking lot would be replaced with a new hotel building being suggested by development interests as being larger than the Solaris complex in Vail Village. Future phases of the medical center could be of a similar size as shown below. The Vail Homeowners Association believes that priority must be given to continuing the practice, begun with the new Four Seasons Hotel, of stepping down the height of structures built along the north side of West Meadow Drive so that views to the mountains beyond are preserved. 

Shown is VVMC density potential resulting from land exchange with the Evergreen Hotel.



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Production Credits


Content Editors:

Larry Stewart, Gail Galvin Ellis, PsyD


Copy Editing & Distribution:

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