Marman Observatory

Realization May 24, 2014



Teller County, CO




A private observatory designed and built for an amateur astronomy enthusiast in the Rocky Mountains.

A sustainable space for a view of the heavens

2017 AIA 10 Awards
Best of Colorado South

The Marman Observatory is a 300 s.f. private observatory located in the Rocky Mountains near Divide, Colorado. The exceptional site boasts amazing 360 degree views both to the surrounding terrestrial beauty and the expansive Colorado sky. Coming in at only 300 s.f. this tiny building packs a lot of punch.

The control room of the observatory has been designed to Passive House (Passivhaus) standards meaning the space is heated and cooled “passively” by the sun and wind. The exterior skin is clad in corten, or “weathering”, steel panels. This steel will develop a patina of rust that will protect the panels from any deterioration. This is a long lasting, zero maintenance skin that will change over time and continue to blend more and more into its beautiful environment. These panels are installed as a rainscreen maximizing energy efficiency and providing excellent moisture management protecting the equipment inside.

The walls and roof are insulated with closed cell spray foam insulation achieving an extremely high and efficient R-value. The floor slab is insulated to provide thermal mass to store the suns heat throughout the day and slowly release it overnight as temperatures cool. The windows and roof overhangs are carefully sized and placed to allow the winter sun to heat the interior while keeping the high summer sun out.

The telescope room has a custom designed rolling roof which protects the telescope when closed and allows 360 degree views to the sky when open. Power for the telescope and computers is provided by an adjacent photovoltaic array. This project was extremely rewarding, as we were privileged enough to design for such an amazing site and such an amazing client who was so committed to both the architectural vision and the environment.

Photographs by Richard Seldomridge