Sundance is an iconic ski resort just northeast of Provo, Utah, which spans over 2700 acres on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range. A site of tremendous natural power and beauty, the client wanted to build an environmentally responsible five star resort for visitors to come and enjoy the incredible scenery the area had to offer. Having worked together briefly on a previous project, the client brought in Regenesis in order to gain a whole-systems understanding of this breathtaking place–a glaciated landscape with extremely steep slopes, variable vegetation and soil types, and major alpine streams
Regenesis was brought in towards the end of a 3-year master planning process that proposed new lifts, a spa, lodges and a hotel. Our assessment revealed that the proposed siting of the new five star hotel would be located on a glacial moraine at the point it was intersected by a previously unrecognized, active fault line. Other insights highlighted avalanche hazards, fire liabilities, and flooding potential. In other words, this site, which had been likely been chosen because of the feeling of natural wonder and power it invoked, was powerful because it was in a uniquely dangerous place! Although geotechnical engineers, soil scientists and hydrologists had already assessed the site, no one had integrated the information to see the larger pattern of how the landscape worked as a system. These insights enabled the project team to make critical adjustments with regards to the planning, design and structuring of the resort.
By alerting Sundance to the danger represented by its siting choices, Regenesis was able to save the resort potential losses in the millions-of-dollars range and minimize future liability. As well, the insights enabled Sundance to rethink the pattern of its development and its relationship to its community and the environment. For example, subsequent phases began to incorporate water sensitive and permaculture design principles that were appropriate to that place. Having seen first-hand in this early project the importance of understanding the places in which we develop, Regenesis now carries out in-depth site assessments in all of their projects.
For a period afterward Sundance featured Regenesis’ final report document in its gallery. The Assessment and Story of Place also served as a contextual guide for the formation of a North Fork Residents Association, working to protect their investments and the environmental health of the watershed.
Photo credits, top to bottom: JP Vargas, Ted & Dani Percival