Haxtun - Saving Main Street

Architect: HDR

Owner: Phillips County Economic Development

Location: Haxtun, CO

Like in many other small communities throughout America, the local health system and its medical centers are one of the largest single employers in Haxtun, Colorado. Haxtun’s population is just 1,000, and the Haxtun Hospital District employs more than 120 and welcomes an additional 20 or so volunteers. This plan explores what could happen if that working population is redirected to occupy Haxtun's existing main street storefronts and buildings.

What the team has envisioned can not only save Haxtun, but countless rural communities across the country whose hospitals are threatened with closure. The plan seeks to redistribute the population density across the center of the community in order to support these often-overlooked places and their medical centers. In Haxtun, the team conceptualized its ideas across a 3.3-acre site, roughly the size of one city block. It calls for a mix of nearly 20,000 square feet of adaptive reuse and more than 50,000 square feet of new construction to achieve a focused population gravity.

The project began as a collaboration with Haxtun Hospital District CEO Don Burris and the Phillips County Economic Development Corporation in 2006. Following a needs assessment and program investigation, the hospital's board helped the team engage community leaders to establish three guiding principles: community, economy, and wellness. Based on those principles, the team shaped a menu of programmatic elements that would both attract a range of ages in the community as well as visiting medical professionals.

What the team has envisioned can not only save Haxtun, but countless rural  communities across the country whose hospitals are threatened with closure.

The plan anchors the hospital's primary clinical program to the site's northeast corner. The hospital would see a reduction in beds from 25 to eight. Six of those beds would be dedicated surgical beds, while two would serve OB-GYN needs but could be flexed if needed. An in-fill building will serve as its  lobby and house its administrative team, library, and pre-function space for a new auditorium/theater space next door. Haxtun's library would be relocated to the first floor of an adjacent building  with additional hospital administrative space and a nearby retirement center occupying the second floor.

Country Rose, a highly regarded flower shop, will remain in place but will welcome a new cafe to the north and a new pharmacy to the south. An existing alleyway will serve as the main walk-in entry for the hospital and will double as the development's internal focal court. It is flanked by hospital reception and a gathering space, anchoring the north edge of the development's retirement and skilled nursing components. Along adjacent South Logan Avenue, two mid-sized "shotgun" residences are ready to welcome visiting professionals .

As rural hospitals close in increasing numbers, resulting in longer emergency transit times, communities are denied the medical care access they deserve. As clearly demonstrated in Haxtun, mixed-use destinations along main street with health and wellness at their core can reinvigorate the quality of life in such communities.

Additional information

Engineer Civil/Structural- HDR

Engineer Electrical - HDR

Landscape Architect: HDR


Mark Gardner, AIA, NOMA, Chair, Jaklistch Gardner, Brooklyn, New York

Lesley Bain, FAIA, Framework, Seattle, Washington

Katie Horak, ARG, Los Angeles, California

John Smoley, City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dan Yudchitz, AIA, Leo A Daly, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Image credits

Haxtun - Saving Main Street-03

Tom Trenolone

Haxtun - Saving Main Street-02

Tom Trenolone

Haxtun - Saving Main Street-05

Tom Trenolone

Haxtun - Saving Main Street-04

Tom Trenolone

Haxtun - Saving Main Street-06

Tom Trenolone