The Buena Vista Square Optimist Splash Park came together with the help of multiple individuals. With the help of Steve Jacobson, the park received its ever-popular splash pad.
“I was over in Aspen, and they have that water fountain on their plaza,” says Jacobson. “I looked at it and it’s pretty basic. I came back and thought, ‘It’s not rocket science, we can make one of these.’ Everybody liked the idea, so I designed it.”
As a designer and builder with Create Inc., Jacobson was no stranger to construction. He helped with not just the splash pad but also constructing the bathroom.
The main challenge of this project came from working with all volunteers and donated materials.
“Everybody’s donating, so you have to work around everybody’s schedule and take them when they can show up,” says Jacobson.
“It happened way later than it was scheduled to, so by the time it finally came to start I was doing double duty with my job. But we got it done, and it was very well-liked. It was a good job.”
Jacobson’s favorite thing about this park is how it naturally brings people together, simply from having children playing in the water.
“Over in Aspen when you’re watching (kids in the plaza), there’s usually a whole crowd around them. They even have people playing music. It’s just a natural gathering spot, to watch kids play in water.”
Jacobson grew up in Arvada and attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He initially planned to study architecture, but he changed his mind and earned a degree in ranch and farm management instead.
Here, he also met Laurie, who grew up in Buena Vista. The two married in Buena Vista after graduation and were moved into the area by the early 90s.
“I always wanted to live in a small town,” says Jacobson, who imagined living in a town in Wyoming. “When I met my wife, we came up here to visit. It was a part of the state I hadn’t seen much of. The opportunity came up that we could move here, and it was a great place to raise our kids. We have no plans on leaving.”
For a time, Jacobson worked on the family ranch in Chaffee County. He and his wife began looking into buying a rental property. Seeing the building projects going on in the area, Jacobson considered designing and building more and more.
“I finally decided that I needed to do something or shut up about it,” he says. “I did my first house, and it was a lot of fun and it sold right away, so I just kept going.”
For several years, Jacobson continued doing his own houses and selling them on the market, one after another. It wasn’t long, however, before he received more requests for designs. So he began doing custom work for individual clients.
Jacobson mainly works on speculative houses and custom houses. He has done several projects within town.
When working on a house, he’ll pay close attention to factors like mountain views and directions. The north side of the house would be expected to receive more cold, whereas the south side would receive passive heat and make for a better patio.
“There’s a lot of things I try to bring in and just see what the property feels like and what it has to offer, and then I start putting the house together and coming up with the design,” he says.
“Once I have the design, I draw it all up. It gets permits and we start excavating and building, step by step putting the whole package together.”
The final set of plans can take 2 weeks to draw. Prior to that, though, it’s all about figuring out the specific details that people want to see in the house. Jacobson spends a lot of time working with ideas given to him and figuring out how best to install them into the final product.
“It’s quite a long process until we get to where we’ve got something that I can actually say we’re really getting close to what we want to build,” he says. “Even at that time, after it’s all submitted, it’s still open to how it’s coming up out of the ground, if it’s doing everything that everybody wants it to do. Mostly what I do with clients is listen.”
Working around weather and terrain is always a challenge to the job, as well as other elements.
“We can have some pretty difficult ground around here, a lot of rock,” says Jacobson. “Sometimes you get away without it being a problem. Other times, it turns into a major problem. Just getting all the elements to line up on a timescale – your excavating, your concrete, all your different things – can be a challenge.”
Create Inc. is booked with projects to 2020.