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Medians and Roundabouts
Breckenridge, Colorado

Landscape Architecture by Norris Design


Parabolic lines of sandstone blocks and colorful annuals hug the medians to create a welcoming gateway into the mountain town of Breckenridge, Colo., along Colorado State Highway 9.
Photo: J Birkey

The Breckenridge medians and roundabouts (BMR) revitalization project incorporates landscape architecture, design and monumentation to create a welcoming gateway along Colorado State Highway 9 into the historic mountain town of Breckenridge (pop. 4,540). The town sits at an elevation of 9,600 feet and is at the base of the Tenmile Range. It has been a popular ski resort since the early 1960s.

Taking into consideration CDOT's proposed infrastructure improvements, the town's history, character and present brand and numerous sustainability challenges, the medians and roundabouts reflect the Breckenridge way of life with an arrival experience that changes with the seasons.


Colorado blue spruce trees are atop the roundabout, with narrowleaf cottonwoods in the lower tier. The sandstone "beams" that form the roundabout's retaining walls are from the Oklahoma quarry of Pine's Stone Co., of Carbondale, Colo. DB8 decorative lighting poles are used to support the hanging baskets. The concrete is pigmented with Davis Colors.

The design elements mimic the movement of local recreational activities, such as skiing, snowboarding and hiking, while incorporating design elements present in Breckenridge's historic mining district. Parabolic lines of hardscape and colorful annuals hug the medians and enclose the roundabouts during the warm summer months. When the temperature drops, evergreens and large boulders peek out from beneath blankets of white. Compelling concrete patterns maintain a sense of movement. The bowing berms of hand-stacked stonewalls ease into vertical banner poles, offering flowering baskets or colorful banners, depending on the season. The variety of textures and depth visually available at eye level mirror the tree lines, bursting with glades of vegetation and sloping mountain contours visible in the distance. Coasting down this meandering tract progressively intensifies as the stone carves a sinuous line, precisely meeting the cant of vertical elements.

As the BMR project area is at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet above sea level it presented some unique factors to consider during the concept and design work. The extreme climate changes throughout the year limit the sustainable plant palette. Under these environmental confines, Norris Design proposed a design for this year-round intense climate that could handle the harsh conditions and still shine. The existing infrastructure also brought challenges, as the project is in a high-traffic area with extremely limited horizontal space. The planning team considered the need for a functional design that spanned the most popular and profitable seasons in the town. The concept, design and elemental function transform smoothly from winter to summer to fall.


Bright pink Mexican asters bring the median to life. Banner poles offer flowering baskets or colorful banners depending on the season.
Photos: J Birkey

Colorful annuals, sprouted in greenhouses, populate the BMR during the short summer months against a background of towering evergreens. Irrigation and fertigation systems are installed to bolster growth of annuals and minimize the need to send maintenance crews into dangerous work environments.

In the colder months, there are bursts of visual focus in colorful banners hovering high above the same graceful evergreens, now adorned with seasonal lighting and layers of powdery snow. All banner poles installed in the project area have breakaway features to lessen the impact of a potential collision. The landscape architects included a raised vertical splashguard at 18 inches tall across the project area to protect plant life from dangerous chemicals, such as magnesium chloride, carried by passing vehicles. Snowplow delineators are installed to protect the project area during the winter. As the medians are no more than 10-15 feet wide, Norris Design used vertical elements: hand-stacked rock walls, textured splashguard barriers, banner poles and trees. Longer serpentine patterns and textures were placed along the more rapid traffic areas; more intense patterns and textures went to the slower traffic areas. Norris Design has achieved a sustainable, stunning, welcoming streetscape design for Breckenridge.


Designing a landscape no more than 10 to 15 feet wide and at nearly a 10,000 foot elevation offers some challenges. Norris Design added height to the median with hand-stacked rock walls, textured splashguard barriers, banner poles and trees. The annuals planted in Breckenridge's short summer are sprouted in greenhouses (see plant collage). Irrigation ('Rain Master Eagle Plus' controller by Irritrol) and fertigation minimize the need to send maintenance crews into this dangerous space.
Photo: J Birkey

Landscape Architect:
Norris Design, Frisco, Colo.: Elena Scott, Megan Testin, Lindsay Newman, Mike Copeland, Dave Jenkins, Jordan Dame, Chris Bates

Columbine Hills Concrete

2 V's Landscaping and Irrigation

As seen in LASN magazine, August 2017.

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October 13, 2019, 6:52 pm PDT

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