T38 Studio

Our architect, T38 Studio, designed a unique site plan and accommodations for the Frontier. The T38 team took inspiration from one of the San Luis Valley’s most prolific features—crop circles—during the design process. Both Joseph Ruiz and Alfonso Medina, the lead designers on the project, mimicked the regular concentric farming practice to organize the clusters of units that make up the Frontier.

A rendering of the Frontier Drive-Inn yurts with the movie screen in the background.
Steelmaster shed rooms the Frontier Drive Inn with the movie screen in the background.
Three yurts around a fire pit at the Frontier Drive Inn.

When designing the rooms at the Frontier, T38 returned to two distinctly Colorado typologies: yurts and Quonset huts. Used locally as shelters for equipment and crop storage, T38 reimagined the prefabricated steel structures as one-of-a-kind hotel experiences with bespoke interiors and that use numerous local materials.

In the Frontier’s Snack Bar—the most central hub since the Drive-In first opened in the 1955, and still today—T38 Studio converted the old counter into a chef’s kitchen, and the back of house into a roomy dining area with a feature wall of patterned laser cut plywood with rotating colored LED lighting.

A rendering of the Snack Bar at the Frontier Drive Inn.
The Snack Bar at the Frontier Drive Inn at sunset.

T38 Studio has a new model for an architectural practice. It exists on the border between development, architectural design, construction and urban planning. Their office is a conceptual vehicle and an architectural machine for moving between the local circumstances and global ambitions, between techniques based on habit and the radical mixing of conflicting values and practices: developer versus architect; planner versus builder; local versus global. The studio practice extends well beyond built structures and pays keen attention to the relationships that exist between the various spaces, ecologies and environments that shape the lives of individuals and broader communities.

Exterior view of steelmaster sheds and a yurt on a cloudy day.

T38 is an award winning architecture firm based in New York City, with satellite offices in Mexico City and Tijuana. Their work has been exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in NYC, Crown Hall At IIT Chicago, the Boston Society of Architects, Archivo and El Eco Museum in Mexico City.

Additional architectural services were provided by Josh Comfort, Ray Gomez, and Luke Falcone.

Large black script Frontier Drive-Inn logo that says IN MOVIES WE TRUST in an arch above it.