Sundance Resort, Utah

Project Summary

  • A proposed resort in an ecologically-constrained site
  • Through an Integral Assessment™ and Story of Place™, an understanding of the essence of the site and how to develop more responsibly and appropriately

Project Description and Client Aspirations

Sundance Resort is a ski resort located 13 miles (21 km) 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 on a previous project, the client brought in Regenesis to undertake an Integral Assessment™ and Story of Place™ in order to gain an understanding of how this place functioned as a whole.

The Importance of Understanding Place

Regenesis was brought in at the end of a 3-year master planning process that proposed new lifts, a spa, lodges and a hotel. Sundance is a glaciated Karst landscape with extremely steep slopes, variable vegetation and soil types, and major alpine streams. Regenesis’ site assessment brought to light previously unrecognized insights into constraints to future development that would need to be addressed for public safety.

The Integral 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 (associated with the Wasatch complex or swarm). 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 that landscape is working as a system.  Other insights highlighted avalanche hazards, fire liabilities, and flooding potential. These insights clearly pointed to the need for reconsideration with regards to 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 millions of dollars 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 the importance of understanding the places in which we develop, the firm now carries out in-depth site assessments in all of their projects.

For a period afterward Sundance featured maps and illustrations from the Integral Assessment and Story of Place  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.