Stapleton Parks and Open Space | Denver, USA | Dig Studio

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Stapleton is a mixed used redevelopment of the former Stapleton International Airport which was closed in 1995 for the opening of Denver International Airport. The 4,700 acre site of the former airport has been transformed into a modern reinterpretation of Denver’s classic neighborhoods. Stapleton has committed 35% of the overall development to a series of interconnected parks, pedestrian streetscapes, and open spaces which would become the lifeblood of the community, which now houses an estimated 20,000 residents. Dig Studio has played an integral role in the visioning, site design, and construction of a number of projects including the two acre Conservatory Green Plaza and Performance Green, Stapleton Conservatory Green Visitor Center, and the twenty-five acre 26th Avenue Park.

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Conservatory Green is a two acre plaza and performance green that continues Stapleton’s legacy of central parks to define and activate neighborhood centers. The design of Conservatory Green layers in phenomena of the larger prairie landscape; design features evoke patterns of the effects of winds and the preciousness of water in this windy and arid climate. Programmatic features include a large amphitheater for neighborhood scaled events and a smaller performance stage and plaza, which are composed of an elegant interactive water feature, fire pit, and shade structure. The design maximizes human comfort and serves multiple functions by utilizing trees for wind rows and shading from the elements, provides landform for enclosure and adventure play, and ample space and amenities for events both large and small.

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Concerts, outdoor movies, weekend farmers’ markets, food trucks, fall s’mores making at the fire pit, and a number of impromptu gatherings keep Conservatory Green vibrant and active throughout the year. Conservatory Green has had huge successes to date and looks to be a vital asset to Stapleton’s Master Community Association in providing vibrant community for residents and local businesses for decades to come.

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The Conservatory Green Visitor Center is a welcome center with informational displays aimed at attracting new residents. The building program incorporates repurposed materials from on-site as an example of Stapleton’s commitment to responsible development. The Visitor Center also showcases evocative climate resilient native landscapes and offers information on how to build and cultivate productive landscapes.

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Stapleton Parks-07_stpltnvisitorcenter
The materiality and construction budget worked interchangeably to create a visitor center that was inexpensive, temporal, and composed of repurposed materials that could be relocated as the Stapleton infill continues north. Building materials incorporated salvaged CMU, airport blast fencing, a number of salvaged pieces to construct site furnishings and sculptures, and transplanted trees that were saved from removal.

26th Avenue Park is a 24.7 acre naturalized open space that completes the 4.3 mile open space loop between the Stapleton Westerly Creek Park and the Sand Creek Regional Multi-Use Trail. Dig Studio worked with the design team on a public outreach process to record and incorporate community expectations for the new park design. Design ideals enhance the Sand Creek drainage and open space corridor to improve habitat and human interaction with nature. Long overdue connections to the historically disconnected Aurora neighborhoods to the south were resolved and the high performance landscape embodies responsible water use while meeting the City of Aurora’s water usage parameters.

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While the park is largely a restored shortgrass prairie landscape due to water requirements, Dig Studio cleverly integrated small pocket parks of manicured lawn at key neighborhood street locations to allow neighbors spaces for play. Additional connections through the park link the neighborhood to adjacent athletic fields, Fulton Street Playground, and the future Stanley Marketplace. 26th Avenue Park is currently under construction and is set to become an invaluable neighborhood amenity.

Stapleton Parks and Open Space

Location | Denver, Colorado, USA
Design Firm | Dig Studio

Client | Forest City Stapleton

Consultant Team Members |
Conservatory Green – AECOM, Matrix, ValleyCrest, Colorado Hardscapes, Crystal Fountains, Mortenson
Image Credits | Dig Studio and Strada

Visitor’s Center – AECOM, Ideations, Matrix
Image Credits | Dig Studio

26th Ave. Park – AECOM, Mortenson
Image Credits | Renderings all by Dig Studio

About Damian Holmes 3292 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at