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Return of Durango Design & Development Awards recognizes eight organizations

City hopes to promote resilient, sustainable community
Durango artist Mariah Kaminsky works on a mural called “Simple Pleasures” for the Southwest Center for Independence at 3473 Main Ave. in Durango. The mural won a Design & Development Award from the city of Durango for Outstanding Mural. The awards program aims to highlight building and facility designs and art pieces that promote sustainability and a sense of place in the community. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The city of Durango reinstated its Design & Development Awards for 2020-21 after a 21-year hiatus. In doing so, the city recognized eight organizations in various categories.

The public was invited to nominate local businesses, nonprofits and public facilities across eight categories through the month of April.

The Design & Development Awards started in 1983 and continued through 2001, said Savannah Lytle, city planner, in an email to The Durango Herald.

Durango brought the program back to highlight positive aspects of design and development within the city, she said.

“The intent of the program was to emphasize how good design and development adds units to housing stock, enhances quality of life, creates a sense of place and develops a resilient, sustainable community,” she said.

Lytle said outstanding development can add housing stock in innovative ways to reach those most in need.

“For example, the winner of the outstanding housing development award was Espero Apartments,” she said. “Espero is the first property in Durango built exclusively to serve those who earn 30% (of area median income) and below, have been homeless and are living with a disabling condition.”

She called the Espero Apartments an “innovative partnership” between BluLine Development and Southwest Housing Solutions.

The city also pursued the Design & Development Awards because it values creating a sense of place within the community, Lytle said. A sense of place is important for the health and sustainability of a community because it represents residents’ relationships with the place they call home.

“It is our story about a place,” she said. “If we create a positive sense of place that the community can relate to and feel a sense of belonging within then that creates place attachment. The place is viewed as valuable and we will want to ensure it has a sustainable future.”

Lytle said the nominees were reviewed by various community development boards and commissions, which selected the winners.

The Design Review Board selected the winners for the categories of Outstanding Bump-out, Outstanding Sign, Outstanding Outdoor Commercial Patio and Outstanding Commercial/Mixed-Use Design.

The Creative Economy Commission selected the winner for the Outstanding Mural category.

And the Planning Commission selected the winners in the categories of Outstanding Sustainability Project, Outstanding Housing Development and Outstanding Community Benefit.

An image gallery of the winning organizations can be viewed on the city’s website at https://bit.ly/38fZTxG.

Winners and nominees
Local author John Peel, center, talks with tourists during a book-signing in front of Maria’s Bookshop. The bookstore created a garden setting for its bump-out. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)
Outstanding Bump-out

Winner: Maria’s Bookshop


  • Maria’s Bookshop
  • Seasons
  • Hermosa Coffee
  • Lone Spur Café
Carol Clark, co-owner of The Union Social House, walks past the eatery’s new greenhouses in January 2021. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)
Outstanding Outdoor Commercial Patio

Winner: Union Social House


  • Union Social House
  • Zia North
  • Primi
Durango artist Mariah Kaminsky works on a mural called “Simple Pleasures” for the Southwest Center for Independence in June 2020 at 3473 Main Ave. in Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)
Outstanding Mural

Winner: “Simple Pleasures” by Mariah Kaminsky at the Southwest Center for Independence


  • Durango Public Library
  • Sage Farm Fresh Eats
  • Southwest Center for Independence
  • Durango Cyclery
Durango Botanic Garden Interpretive Signs. (Courtesy city of Durango)
Outstanding Sign

Winner: Durango Botanic Gardens, Annette LeMaire and Bryan Saren


  • Durango Botanic Gardens
  • Hermosa Café
  • Taco Libre
  • Mild to Wild
An artist rendering of the remodeling of The Durango Herald offices at 1275 Main Ave. The remodel won an award from the city of Durango for Outstanding Commercial/Mixed-Use Design. (Durango Herald file)
Outstanding Commercial/Mixed-Use Design

Winner: Durango Herald, RMBA Architects


  • Zia North
  • Reynolds Ash + Associates Office
  • Durango Herald
Housing Solutions for the Southwest held a grand opening in October 2021 of the Espero Apartments in Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)
Outstanding Housing Development

Winner: Espero Apartments


  • Espero Apartments
  • Jameson Court
  • Rincon
Steve Wilson with The Good Food Collective is surrounded by apples after climbing a tree north of Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)
Outstanding Sustainability Project

Winner: Good Food Collective


  • Durango Public Library Botanic Garden
  • Good Food Collective
  • Mountain Middle School
Animas City Night Bazaar on north Main Avenue. (Durango Herald file)
Outstanding Community Benefit

Winner: Animas City Night Bazaar/The Hive


  • Animas City Night Bazaar Passegiata/The Hive
  • Durango Fire Station #3
Also recognized

The Historic Preservation Board recognized two for Outstanding Historic Preservation Sustainability Project and Outstanding Contribution for Maintaining a Historic Structure categories.

Carol and David Grenoble received recognition for Outstanding Contribution for Maintaining a History Structure, for their property at 1001 East Third Ave. And the First Presbyterian Church received recognition under the category of “Outstanding Historic Preservation Sustainability.”


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