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A Mountain Retreat for the Education Community

December 10, 2021

The non-profit retreat for the education community designed by OZ Architecture to integrate with the landscape of the pristine valley and to use every space to promote social relationship building and guest well-being. The resort campus includes intimate discussion spaces, individual guest cabins, a lodge with gathering spaces and unique dining options and a wellness amenity.

The mountains of Colorado’s Front Range provide a stunning natural backdrop for a retreat designed by OZ Architecture where the education community converges to exchange ideas, team-build and collaborate to address challenges and foster positive change for the communities which they serve.

OZ designed the retreat for the Lone Rock Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization headquartered in Santa Cruz, CA, that supports the public nonprofit education ecosystem throughout the United States. Lone Rock Retreat serves as a comfortable, understatedly upscale ranch-style venue for education groups who partner with the foundation, or provided grants through their school districts, to gather for multi-day professional immersions. Located on 7 acres near Bailey, CO, about an hour’s drive from Denver, the retreat is remote yet accessible, with a concept and design aesthetic that emphasizes the themes of wellness, support, comradery, and collaboration. Construction started in the fall of 2019 and was completed in summer of this year.

“Our society and our future depend on educators,” says OZ Principal Rebecca Stone, AIA, who heads the design team for the Lone Rock Foundation project. “For me personally, and for OZ Architecture as a firm, anything we can do to support them in their vitally important and often difficult work, we think, is worthwhile. The Lone Rock Foundation has given OZ a unique opportunity to create a place where educators can come not only for professional development, but to find a heightened sense of wellness and community among their peers.”

Set amid forest, meadowland, and rock promontories on a tract of land once used for agriculture, the retreat is an architecturally unique and visually stunning campus designed to accommodate two groups of 30 or a single group of 60 at a time. OZ collaborated with Confluence out of Denver on a master plan that features a welcome center, 60 guest cabins, a seminar building to be used for daily group discussions, a lodge including group social gathering spaces, three dining experiences, and a wellness amenity with yoga, fitness, meditation space, a sauna and hot-springs style hot tubs. All the structures are connected by a network of walking paths that meander throughout the property. The flow and configuration of the retreat are meant to promote community without ever feeling crowded. There’s abundant space for interaction (formal and informal, large, and small group, indoor and outdoor), but also places for individual quiet moments.

In addition to the master plan for the retreat, OZ designed the buildings with thoughtful components that support the retreat’s mission and deliver an architectural and design delight. The indoor spaces at Lone Rock draw inspiration from the surrounding natural palette of materials and colors, helping guests to feel relaxed and recharged. Those spaces include:

The lodge, the centerpiece of the retreat, flows as if it’s part of the landscape, its three stories meant to reveal themselves slowly and surprisingly to the visitor. The base of the building rises from the land with rammed-earth walls built with local earth and the third story is clasped by a distinct curved roof. The lodge includes a custom panelized window system which has pivot walls to open the indoors to the outdoors and where each of the panels acts as a frame to multiple views out to the surrounding valley and the peaks of the Rocky Mountains beyond. It is anchored by two “homerooms,” clubhouse-style hubs for visiting groups to meet for breakfast, breaks and evening socializing. To encourage people to interact with others who they just met, each homeroom also includes a music lounge with jam session-ready instruments, a library, billiards and board games, books, and unique indoor/outdoor rammed-earth fireplaces. Expansive outdoor decks wrap much of the building, providing gathering spaces with views out to the valley and the mountains beyond.

On the food and beverage side, three dining venues, all in the lower level of the lodge, are designed to increase social interaction and feel comfortable for guests who just met and are dining together. These unique experiences include a build-your-own pizza venue, a saloon featuring an 1800’s back-bar reclaimed from a Kansas saloon, a farm-to-table concept, all with access to an adjacent outdoor patio.

Entered by crossing a striking circular labyrinth, the Hitching Post welcome center will greet visitors with abundant light through multiple windows and an open, exposed wood beam design.

60 guest cabins, all with unique experiences of facing the valley, tucked into the forest, or perched on the edge of the meadow, are located within 15 four-unit structures. The cabins are simple, cozy and connected via a single winding walking path. They do not have tv’s, but they do all have small outdoor porches, private bathrooms, operable windows, and an oxygen enrichment system to help guests acclimate to the altitude (Bailey sits at 7,740 feet above sea level).

A seminar/discussion building, with spaces designed to foster intimate dialogue and collaboration, including three in-the-round discussion spaces to create an egalitarian, non-lecture environment for conversation and idea-exchange. The seminar building has a “break room” for conversation and socializing and is equipped with superior acoustics throughout. Built into the slope adjacent to this building is a natural amphitheater that event facilitators can program for discussion, meditation, presentations, or small group gatherings.

A wellness amenity that is decidedly of its surroundings. This building is bunkered into the steep slope and tiers with the steep grade. It has with a green roof, topped with earth and grass, cascading outdoor hot spring-like pools for soaking, a cold plunge, and indoors, a sauna, yoga room, fitness room, a meditation space and multipurpose flex spaces divided by sliding doors for group activities.

Water storage was built up the valley and provides enough flow for fire protection and drinking water. This storage tank is filled by wells located on the site. Lone Rock is a very low water use property and has sustainable principals designed into the development.

Knitting it all together are compelling outdoor spaces designed to promote connections with nature and with one another, including:

  • Landscaped conversation rings with tree stump seating for organized small-group discussions.
  • An outdoor amphitheater adjacent to the seminar building for meetings, group discussions, and social and music events.
  • A network of paths for strolling, jogging, and exploring the property. These are impervious and soft in nature keeping with the natural environment the retreat sits in
  • Minimally intrusive landscaping and architecture throughout, designed to preserve wildlife corridors, create an “of the earth” feel and respect the property’s native environment.

Lone Rock Retreat was constructed by Hyder Construction. BG BuildingWorks, Tetra Tech and IMEG partnered with OZ on the design. The education community started to use the property in June. They are coming from around the U.S. and will get to experience a true Colorado-style retreat.

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Denver, CO 80205

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