2015 Design in the Hills – Sturgis & Spearfish


2015 Design in the Hills highlighted Collaboration starting with a public-private partnership in Sturgis between Harley-Davidson and the City of Sturgis on Harley-Davidson Rally Point Plaza. Landscape architect Eirik Heikes gave the group a tour of the site and spoke about the partnership to conceive and construct the newest public space in Sturgis.

The tours continued in Spearfish, first at the Historic Frawley Ranch with a tour by landscape architect Pat Wyss. Henry Frawley developed what became the largest and most successful cattle ranch in western South Dakota by purchasing lands that had failed as smaller homesteading parcels. The property was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Elkhorn Ridge Partners purchased the land to build housing, golf course and camping while maintaining the historic structures. Working with the Frawley family, the developer set aside 2,800 acres of ranch land as a conservation easement in perpetuity.

In the City of Spearfish we toured the new Black Hills State University Joy Center with interior designer Amanda Williams, followed by a hike up to a rammed earth bench constructed by hand by Spearfish architects Andy and Shauntel Fett. The rammed earth bench was an experiment in hyperlocal materials, sustainable building techniques and a hands-on collaboration with site.

Then we were on to a fascinating tour of the Spearfish Forest Products sawmill in Spearfish. We were surprised to learn that each board processed in the sawmill is photographed, graded and sorted electronically. The sawmill floors (wood and concrete) and handrails had all been rubbed into a beautiful soft sheen by years and years of pine resin and heat. Speaking of which, sawmills aren’t air-conditioned and it was HOT, so everyone thoroughly enjoyed cooling down at the post-tour mixer at Crow Peak Brewing Company.

The Friday morning session gave an update on the Powerhouse Park master plan and design, which was the subject of our 2014 charrette, and was in the process of being designed for construction in 2016. Finally, we collaborated in cross-disciplinary teams for a Pocket Neighborhood Design Challenge. The designs focused on workforce housing for on small lots in difficult development conditions – a highway on one side and a river on the other.

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