Master Planning with a Perspective on History

Posted on July 30, 2021
This article originally appeared in Colorado Real Estate Journal’s Building Dialogue June 2021 issue. Click here to view the original article. 

As master planned communities continue to gain popularity in the Denver metro area, finding a story that speaks to both new residents and the community they are joining becomes paramount. The RainDance development in Windsor is envisioned to create a modern, harmonious coexistence between functional farming and activated living in a safe, joyful and productive place for community. Serving as a hub for nostalgic fun, RainDance River Resort is a microcosm of its lively surroundings, designed to be a central source for a thriving community.

RainDance River Resort acts as the resort next door, providing the community with a water park in its backyard. The amenity space features Colorado’s largest lazy river, which is designed to connect the community with the rich agricultural and farming history of Northern Colorado. It’s a place where large-scale amenities celebrate simple pleasures, where memories are made and relived on the water, underneath the sun and next to fruit-filled orchards.

Situated within a 13.4-acre park, the resort-style pool occupies roughly 4 acres and is connected to passive and programmed open space, orchards and farmland through an extensive trail network. The entire park is carefully oriented to allow for stunning views of Long’s Peak and the Front Range.

Anchored on the main road, widened sidewalks, golf cart parking and a network of connecting pathways make the resort easily accessible for residents. Primarily a private amenity, RainDance River Resort is municipal in scale and can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.

Larger-than-life design elements are balanced by intimate gathering spaces. A silo tower water slide on the pool’s center island sends visitors flying into the cloud-shaped lazy river in the form of the RainDance logo. A tractor crop splashpad offers interactive and playful water features. Openair grain bin cabanas and hammock seating areas offer shade for small groups. A bar, farmhouse community building and picnic areas accommodate larger celebrations.

Authentic details and repurposed materials

From shade structures to natural stone walls, materials at RainDance River Resort are meant to last and age naturally. Every element of RainDance River Resort was designed to evoke an immersive experience of “living in the farm,” Drawing from the RainDance farm-themed palette, playful pieces are rooted in agricultural heritage. A working center pivot irrigation system runs through the heart of the resort and serves as a custom water feature – its tires leaving prints in the splashpad’s cement. Steel panels in sunflower patterns serve as decorative elements that cast changing shadows throughout the day. Other repurposed materials include a chicken coop locker system and hay rack bike racks. Along the resort’s perimeter, mature trees purchased from a local nursery offer large areas of shade.

Agrarian patterns guided the pool design and landscape planning around the resort. Windrows, hedges, grids and circular patterns establish unique visual elements and create an authentic harmony among agricultural, educational and recreational places. Old tractors and farming equipment function as sculptures and water features to reinforce the area’s heritage.

RainDance River Resort reinvigorates the notion of a watering hole with new ways to gather and relax. This modern take on a concept with historic significance provides a community center designed to remind residents of the rich past while they enjoy gathering together in the present. Water is the lifeblood of a farm, and this characteristic is echoed in this community center.

Environmental sensitivity and sustainability

Northern Colorado’s rich agricultural and farming history was founded on the successes of early settlers in establishing sustainable living. At RainDance River Resort, these sustainable practices are preserved. The design team created a habitat for plants and small species of wildlife to thrive, sustaining the ecological system that lives in RainDance. Planned corridors of perennials at the resort attract pollinators to its surrounding orchards. Year-round greenhouses are also planned, enabling a 12-month growing season that maintains crop productivity through winter lulls. Demonstration farms create opportunities for teaching and learning in an open environment while community farms in each district give people a chance to take ownership of the growing season and share the bounty with their neighbors.

All sustainability initiatives are marked with educational signage that brings the community along for the journey and helps create future advocates who will champion the unique “living in the farm” lifestyle at RainDance for generations to come. Additionally, turf lawns serve to reduce concrete, water usage and maintenance.

RainDance has won multiple awards, recognizing its unique design, historical derivations and focus on community. As master planned communities increasingly focus on differentiation and unique storytelling, RainDance demonstrates the power of historical perspective.

Learn More About RainDance River Resort