Longs Peak, the tallest and most iconic mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, has become one of the most frequented 14ers in the State of Colorado. To deal with human waste on the trail, the National Park Service (NPS) installed their first backcountry toilets in 1983. Since their installation 35 years ago the technology has deteriorated in the harsh climate to the point that waste is now required to be removed by shovel full, placed into five-gallon buckets, and carried down the mountain using llamas.

Determined to find a better privy design, and a more humane solution of collecting waste, NPS collaborated with ColoradoBuildingWorkshop to re-design and constructed new backcountry privies. The new Longs Peak Privies explore lightweight prefabricated construction and emerging methods of waste collection to minimize the human footprint in Colorado’s backcountry. The final design solution is a series of prefabricated structural gabion walls. Within the gabions, a series of thin steel plate moment frames triangulate the lateral loads within the structure while stones, collected on-site, are used as ballast. This innovative construction assembly allows for rapid on-site construction (the project was erected in eight days) and an architecture that disappears into the surrounding landscape.

2020 Dezeen Top 10 Graduate Projects
2019 NCSEA Excellence in Structural Engineering Award
2019 Architizer A+ Award Architecture + Stone
2019 AIA National Small Project Award
2019 ACSA Design Build Award
Collin Bailey
Riley Barber
Taylor Carlisle
David Cincotta
Robby Cuthbert
Marc Daubert
Brian Duncan
Kate Farrington
Leah Fett
Austin Gohl
Brittany Goldsmith
Leah Gordon
Greg Hise
Cate Humby
Grant Johnson
Ben Ludeman
Morgan Marzo
Selena Obelinas
Jillian Pate
Matt Rivera
Gloren Roper
Aleksi Vuola
David Wallmueller
Intan Yokelson


Rick Sommerfeld
William Koning
Andy Paddock, PE

Kate Hartung



Justin Morse

National Renewable Energy Lab

Peterson Companies

College of Architecture and Planning

CU Denver

CU Denver Building

1250 14th Street


Denver, CO 80202


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