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Photo by David Lauer

Design Finds: The Coolest Carousel in Colorado

Boss Architecture's principals revisit their revolutionary design that turned a vintage carousel into the crown jewel of Thornton's Carpenter Park.

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Nearly a decade ago, the city of Thornton and landscape architecture firm DHM Design tapped architects Chris Davis and Kevin Stephenson to create a series of lakeside buildings at the approximately 150-acre Carpenter Park, including a structure for a vintage carousel. The principals of Denver-based Boss Architecture jumped at the opportunity—not just to design around a whimsical piece of history, but to do so in an unexpected way. “Almost universally, [carousel] buildings are super-ornate, nearly competing with the qualities of the carousel itself,” Stephenson says. “So,” Davis adds, “we asked, what if the architecture had this ambient, simple, sophisticated materials palette that allowed the carousel to be the star?” That question led the duo to design a circular steel structure with 17-foot-high, ipe-wood-slatted doors, 12 of which fold open when the carousel is in use. “It’s sort of this exoskeleton that you can see right through,” Davis says, “which allows you to really appreciate the carousel for what it is, which is color and whimsy and light and sound and movement.” Perhaps that’s why the well-loved design still feels as fresh today as it did at its 2013 debut. It’s timeless—just like the classic merry-go-round.

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