Lessons from an ancient city | SteamboatToday.com
Autumn Phillips

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Lessons from an ancient city

You may remember Bob McHugh from his 31 years in Steamboat. As an architect, partnered with Bill Rangitsch, he designed 65 homes, the Pine Grove Center and the main lodges of The Home Ranch and Vista Verde Guest Ranch.

He left six years ago to live a quieter life in Paonia, but he continues to visit, bringing annual bits of wisdom collected from his trips abroad.

° “The Architecture and Planning of Machu Picchu,” a lecture by Bob McHugh to benefit the Routt County Council on Aging Inc. ° 6 p.m. today ° Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St. ° $5 suggested donation

Tonight, he will be giving a slide show and lecture about “The Architecture and Planning of Machu Picchu.”

Machu Picchu was a city in Peru that was created by the Inca Empire in about 1450 A.D.

When the Spanish conquered Peru, they didn’t find the city, McHugh said. People hid out at Machu Picchu for years but eventually abandoned it.

It lay dormant until it was “discovered” by a Yale anthropologist in the 1950s.

McHugh visited the ancient city-cum-tourist-destination in the fall of 2004. Although it is accessible by tour bus or car, McHugh chose to reach it via a three-day hike on the Inca Trail.

He plans to talk about the where and how of visiting the site, but his lecture will focus on the lessons that can be learned from the city’s layout.

“It is a very elaborate place,” he said. “The builders were expert rock masons, but they had no iron to use in tools. When people look at it, their first question is, how could they have done this?”

The Spanish government is credited with bringing planning principles to the New World, but Machu Picchu proves the Incas were ahead of the game.

The Incas designated open space within the city. They had a central square where the people socialized and held their sporting events and celebrations.

“Open space is very important, and people in Steamboat recognize this, too,” McHugh said. “But not everywhere in the United States does.”

The Incas also designed their city to fit into the landscape — a lesson McHugh thinks modern cities should study.

McHugh stayed in Machu Picchu for four days. He came back with an understanding of the craftsmanship of the place.

“It’s an inspiration to see what these people did,” he said.

° “The Architecture and Planning of Machu Picchu,” a lecture by Bob McHugh to benefit the Routt County Council on Aging Inc. ° 6 p.m. today ° Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St. ° $5 suggested donation