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Ford Park: Vail, Colorado

Landscape Architect/Lead Consultant, Logan Simpson Design, Fort Collins, Colo.,
Jana McKenzie and Kurt Friesen

This project required 37 pedestrian pole lighting assemblies designed and manufactured by ANP Lighting. The 4-inch dia. cast aluminum light poles (4S14) are 14-feet tall seated on low-profile decorative cast aluminum bases (CB1201). The bases and arms are stock, but modified to integrate wireless controls. The 1 1/4 -inch aluminum pipe arms (PA321-1) support the cast aluminum round, fully shaded luminaires (LA1943) lamped with 40-watt Sansi LEDs for energy efficiency and appropriate safety lighting levels. The color temperature is 5,000K (bluish white). The powder coating is architectural bronze.

Ford Park in Vail, Colorado is one of the most beloved and frequented civic spaces in all of Vail Valley. The park is nestled near the base of the Vail ski area. Interstate 70 and a frontage road lie along the north edge, with majestic Gore Creek meandering through the park along the south edge. The park provides 360-degree views of the mountains, including the breathtaking Gore Range to the east.

As the city's signature park, Ford Park provides typical park amenities: picnic areas, sports fields, a tennis center, an adventure playground and a basketball court. The park is quite heavily used, especially during the summer with many weddings, festivals and events. The park is also home to some iconic venues, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. The popular outdoor amphitheater is located along the south edge of the park. Here, headliner outdoor concerts and events are held throughout the summer. The amphitheater hosts some of the finest orchestras in the country, including the Dallas Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.


"Using ANP Lighting's HighPro LED platforms we were able to provide an aesthetically pleasing architectural design, while providing Vail with optical and energy efficiency, approaching 100 lumens per watt," said Helen Reschl of Ackerman Engineering. "My vision for the city was to integrate further energy conservation enhancements by providing provisions for future wireless lighting."
Photo: Scott Cramer Photography

Situated at 8,200 feet, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are the highest botanical gardens in the United States. The gardens attract more than 100,000 visitors annually to see its collection of alpine and mountain plants from around the world. The gardens are one of Vail's top tourist attractions. The park also hosts multiple tournaments and sporting events throughout the summer, including soccer, lacrosse and softball tournaments. These tournaments attract teams from across the country, which frequent the park for multiple days to participate in these events.

With so much activity in the park, there is often overlap between events, occasionally creating conflict between user groups, and often creating challenges for park managers. Lack of adequate parking has been a consistent problem for the morning, afternoon events and evening park events. The park was also starting to show signs of wear, with outdated facilities, cracked sidewalks and weathered site amenities.


The main promenade pavers are 60mm 'Holland Stone' (Pavestone) in a herringbone pattern. The colored pattern combines 'Aspen' and 'Winter' (darker) blends.

In 2009, the town of Vail hired the Logan Simpson Design team led by Jana McKenzie and Kurt Friesen to prepare a park master plan. The focus of the master planning was to create a front door for the park, resolve conflicts between user groups, develop an improved parking strategy, enhance the arrival experience into the park and create a world-class experience for visitors. As part of the master planning the design team worked closely with Vail staff, conducting numerous presentations with town boards and commissions, held public open houses, and led a multidisciplinary team of consultants through the design work. Following completion of the master plan, the design team prepared construction documents for two phases of the project. The first phase included new concessions and maintenance buildings, wetland area, expanded festival space and sports field, and a promenade with pedestrian overlooks to Gore Creek near the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Phase I construction was completed in summer of 2013. Phase II construction is currently underway, and includes improved fields, parking, and bus drop-off, and an improved north entry to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.


The town of Vail, Colo., hired the Logan Simpson Design team, led by Jana McKenzie and Kurt Friesen, to prepare a master plan for Ford Park. The focus was to create a front door for the park, develop improved parking and enhance the park entrance. A key objective was to improve pedestrian and vehicular connectivity between the parking lots along the north edge of the park with the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater to the south.

Ford Park Promenade
A key objective of the project was to improve pedestrian and vehicular connectivity between the parking lots along the north edge of the park with the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater to the south. This was no simple task, as the area is tightly constrained between the amphitheater and Gore Creek, and is on a very steep grade.

The design team studied multiple ways to improve semi-truck and pedestrian connectivity along this steep bank, while also enhancing the overall experience for visitors enjoying mountain views and the rushing sounds of Gore Creek.

The design team created a promenade that extends throughout the park, providing a safe and attractive link between parking areas, the tennis center, the amphitheater, the gardens, the lower commons and multiple trail connections to residential areas and Vail Village.

The promenade includes a unique concrete paver blend and pattern, additional trees, shrubs and perennial plantings along the promenade edge, naturalistic stone retaining walls, a series of pedestrian overlooks, a guardrail, and enhanced pedestrian lighting.

Ford Park Pedestrian Lighting
Lighting design for the project was led by Logan Simpson Design and Ackerman Engineering. Working with Greg Fisher Lighting Sales, the team worked together to design an energy saving, performance fixture that would complement both the beauty of the natural alpine landscape as well as the existing lighting fixtures. "The original pedestrian lighting fixtures in the park are a bell shape. The design of the new ANP Lighting product makes the fixtures look like they have blossomed into a full bloom, thus completing the genesis of the project," said Greg Fisher. Robert Mendoza handled the coordination of this project for ANP Lighting.


The new maintenance/restroom building has a green roof (LiveRoof) of sedums, and is built into the hillside to visually reduce its impact. The new LEDs reflect off a mid-March snowfall, also highlighting the building's thin ledge stone veneer (Telluride Stone Co., Santa Fe) seat walls.
Photos: Scott Cramer Photography (Top) & Jana McKenzie, Logan Simpson Design (Bottom)

"Using ANP Lighting's HighPro LED platforms we were able to provide both an aesthetically pleasing architectural design, while also providing the city of Vail with cutting-edge optical and energy efficiency approaching 100 lumens per watt," said Helen Reschl of Ackerman Engineering. "My vision for the city was to integrate further energy conservation enhancements by providing provisions for future wireless lighting," she added.

Her selection of LEDs with future control provisions speaks to the excellent opportunity this lighting technology provides, not only for static energy conservation enhancements, such as high/low light level occupancy sensor control, but also completes institutional-level adaptive control for exterior lighting, without the expense and inconvenience of using traditional wire and conduit.

ANP Lighting design engineers developed product drawings in just two days. Provisions were made in the design and construction of the product to work in conjunction with the lighting controls. The ANP Lighting fixtures include the 42-watt Sansi LEDs to provide abundant, clean light where necessary, without intruding into the nearby neighborhood. The project uses a low-profile decorative cast aluminum base (CB1201), the foundation for a four inch diameter straight, smooth aluminum pole with a continuous weld through to the simple 1 ¼" aluminum pipe arm (PA321-1). The pipe arm holds a handsome, round luminaire (LA1943) with a 42-watt LED platform array using Type III light distribution in 5,000K color. Note: 5,000K color temperatures and over are called cool colors (bluish white).

Design Team
Client: Town of Vail, Department of Public Works & Transportation, Capital Projects Manager
Project Manager: Todd Oppenheimer
Landscape Architect/Lead Consultant: Logan Simpson Design, Fort Collins, Colorado
Team members: Jana McKenzie, Kurt Friesen, Kelly Smith
Architect: Zehren & Associates, Avon, CO
Team members: Dave Kaselak, Michael Rodenak, Pedro Campos
Civil Engineer: Martin Martin, Edwards, CO
Team members: Mark Luna, Justin Yarnell, Sean Molloy
Site Electrical/Lighting: Ackerman Engineering, Golden, Colorado
Team members: Don Ackerman, Helen Reschl
Building Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing: AEC, Avon, Colorado
Team members: Stanton Humphries
Structural Engineer: Monroe & Newell, Avon, Colorado
Team members: Hannes Spaeh
Surveyor: Gore Range Survey, Vail, Colorado
Team member: Sam Ecker
General Contractor: RA Nelson
Team member: Mike Kowalski
Lighting Sales Representative: Greg Fisher, Greg Fisher Lighting Sales
Lighting Manufacturer: ANP Lighting: Robert Mendoza
Editorial Assistance: Marci Skinner

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