Professors help choose a-maze-ing design for Stanley Hotel

For fans of Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining,” based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the hedge maze featured in the film is nothing short of iconic. What many people do not know is that the hedge maze is not a part of the King novel and no hedge maze exists in front of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, the hotel that is supposed to serve as the central location of the film.

Now, that is all about to change. The Grand Heritage Hotel Group, which owns the Stanley, commissioned a hedge maze design contest in which over 300 designs from over 40 states and 30 countries were submitted. The winning design was put forth by Mairim Standing from New York City and a CSU alumnus, Dan Skinner, finished in the top seven.

Experts from Landscape Architecture

Colorado State University
CSU Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Kelly Curl.

The designs were reviewed by an expert panel of judges that included CSU Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Kelly Curl. Curl has judged contests like these before, although few sites have captured the popular imagination like the Stanley Hotel.

“It was a rewarding experience to be a juror for The Stanley Maze Design Competition,” said Curl. “Reviewing over 300 entries was enlightening at the number of opportunities and possibilities many of the designs provided. The design dialogue was stimulating and inspirational.”

CSU Professor of Landscape Architecture Merlyn Paulson also helped with the judging when Curl was unable to attend the final session when the winner was picked from the final 20 that Curl helped select. Other judges included: Stanley owner John Cullen; Midge Knerr (Stanley Hotel Lodge Inn Keeper); Town of Estes Park Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Koenig; Tom Botelho, Exec. Dir., Denver Film Society; Harriette Woodard (Estes Park); and, Cydney Springer, Estes Park local artist.

High-profile design competitions

Design contests like this one are quite common in the landscape architecture profession, and Curl says that her students should be prepared to participate in design competitions commissioned by both public and private organizations.

Curl cites the design of the new World Trade Center in New York City as one high-profile design competition in which over 5000 entries were submitted. Curl was an Associate at the firm Peter Walker and Partners when they and Michael Arad won the competition.

Landscape Architecture Days

In April, David Walker, Partner at Peter Walker and Partners, will come to campus as part of Landscape Architecture Days to speak to faculty, staff, students, and community members.

“Whether the design is for the Stanley Hotel or the World Trade Center Memorial, we want to encourage and prepare our students to participate in competitions like these,” said Curl. “We want to be in a position to train the next generation of landscape architects to succeed in these career-defining competitions and projects.”