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Elements of Architecture

From the general layout of your home to the smallest structural details, every aspect of its architecture reflects who you are and how you want to live. Evolving and expanding over the years, home design in Jackson Hole now offers homeowners a wide range of styles and approaches. We asked several of the valley’s leading architects to describe their favorite design elements. The answers are as diverse as they are insightful.


Berlin ARchitects

Larry Berlin


My favorite architectural element is light. Throughout the design process, I visualize how light will enter a space—defining and refining textures, materials, color and the volume of the space. Light interplays with positive and negative space and transparency. For me, it is the source and inspiration for all subsequent architectural creativity.


CLB ARCHITECTS

Andy Ankeny


As a native of the West, I like to create buildings that are inherently simple and cohesive, honoring the area’s vernacular architecture with a modern sense of scale and proportion. I am inspired by the relationship between built forms and their natural surroundings, and believe that good architecture is inseparable from and enhances sense of place.


Design Associates architects

Chris Lee


Something we’re doing a lot these days that’s had a significant impact on architecture is using larger windows and more glass. We’ve always worked to bring the outside in, and new advances in window technology are facilitating that now more than ever. The resulting architecture is more open, light and airy.


FARMER PAYNE ARCHITECTS

JAMIE FARMER + SCOTT PAYNE


The most important design trend involves integrating knowledge and technology to create smarter and healthier designs. Our designs focus on improving health and quality of life while reducing the carbon footprint. Today, wellness is a priority in any built environment. Energy consumption and waste are being approached more intelligently, too.


JLF ARCHITECTS

PAUL BERTELLI, LOGAN LEACHMAN + ASHLEY SULLIVAN


The kitchen is the central gathering space where connection and growth are nurtured. Nature provides inspiration, as it is constantly evolving and working to sustain life. Glass curtain walls are key transparent components in developing the relationship between interior and exterior environments. We strive to enhance the human condition through an interconnection of these two environments.


Tillemans architect

Lori Tillemans


I’m excited about the element of surprise: teasing the mind with unexpected material combinations and/or proportions. How can that roof work without apparent structural support? Who thought a small window in a large stone wall would be okay? Why should a fireplace appear to be floating? Just for fun!


Vera iconica Architecture

veronica Schreibeis smith


Beautiful design can be more than skin deep. We love integrating into our designs the latest science on how the built environment impacts human and planetary well-being. The ultimate goal is to co-create designs with our clients that will enhance their cognitive performance, vitality and longevity.


A43 architecture

chris jAubert


Well-designed stairs have always caught my eye, and I appreciate the harmony of form and function they bring to interiors. Much like a great piece of furniture, stairs can be both sculptural and purposeful. They often present technical challenges so, as an architect, you are always looking for creative ways to both satisfy constraints and feature this architectural element.


Dubbe moulder ARchitects

Kurt dubbe + chris Moulder


The notion of shelter derives from the three fundamental Vitruvian principles of good architecture: firmness—to design shelter with care, thoughtfulness and durability; commodity—to design shelter that accommodates its users’ needs and desires; and delight—to design shelter that is beautiful, timeless and memorable.


Kinsey architects

Cornelius kinsey


Jackson Hole homes require large structural elements to support the weight of our winters’ heavy snow loads. For local architects, this is an opportunity to use structural elements creatively to design interesting details and spaces. Beams and columns, for example, become picture frames for the valley’s spectacular outside views.

Modern Park Architecture

PROGRESSIVE DESIGN IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

Split shed roofs orient this home toward the stunning views of the Teton range. These same roof forms direct tremendous snow loads away from the entry and preserve the view through walls of glass below.


ARCHITECTURE
BAXTER DESIGN STUDIO
BDSTUDIO.COM

Photos By
TREVOR TONDRO + BAXTER DESIGN STUDIO

The relationship between an experience and its memory is strong. Traveling down a narrow path, sunlight filtering through the trees, gravel crunching underfoot, the smell of pine sap. The anticipation of the journey and the satisfaction of the destination. For those of us who have had the pleasure to explore the national parks, a memory such as this lives in the subconscious waiting for the right catalyst to bring it forward.

“Visiting the park is a journey; there is a sense of exploration,” says Chris Baxter, principal architect of Baxter Design Studio. “Our architecture has always been about the experience and procession of the user.” Paramount to this approach Baxter Design Studio mindfully plots the way people move through the site and structure. Upon one’s arrival to the property, the experience becomes guided by the designers.

Over the past 20 years, the firm has designed 10 projects within park inholdings. The BDS team strives for the structures they design to be in unison with the wild Wyoming environment. “We love to think of our projects as landscape architecture—the form of the landscape happens to include a building,” Baxter says. When building amid pristine beauty, BDS exhibits restraint. “It is our responsibility to minimize the impact the building has on its surroundings.”

By approaching each structure as a feature within the environment, the architects consider their practice within the lineage of “park architecture,” referencing texts such as an architecture manual published by the National Parks Association in the 1930s. “As we look at these historical values in relation to our modern architecture, it’s surprising what remains relevant,” Baxter says.

This simple gable form wraps around the edge of a wetland. The south- facing bar of glass affords solar heat and a never-ending cinematic event of wildlife, seasons and sunsets.

“Modern architecture is oftentimes perceived as cold. We are motivated to create a rich experience for people as they interact with our buildings and the natural environment.”

Modern detailing simplifies the elements of this mudroom entry, revealing the primitive nature of the historic, rustic-textured wall. The simple material palette allows continuous surfaces to blur the threshold between the interiors and the outdoors.

The studio views “modern park architecture” as a new typology conceived by the synthesis
of natural influences and advanced building technologies. Each design, in its simplest form, is a quiet viewing pavilion: a comfortable place to observe wildlife, the subtle changes of light throughout the day, and the transition of seasons. As these structures configure to their natural context, BDS seeks opportunities to develop connections between interior spaces and their natural surroundings.

Modern forms and details are juxtaposed against site-inspired materials to strike a balance in this composition. The performance of steel and glass joins with the soul of timber and stone.

Scale and proportion in their work are also rooted in the landscape. Similar to the way historic buildings found their scale from site-harvested materials, BDS utilizes the scale and proportion inherent to the site. Materials are approached in a similar fashion: The studio finds direction from the site to utilize materials that become unified with their locale.

Thoughtfully situated, this modern cabin rests quietly in a grove of lodgepole pines. The play between building and landscape makes it appear that the structure has been here for decades, although this was the cabin’s first winter.

Recent commissions have found the firm migrating into town, sites that offer slightly different “inputs” and yet reference the same nature-informed ideals. Whether proximate to town or park, a home must enhance the experience of the property and its natural attributes. In an ultimate nod to the site, Baxter considers the firm’s designs as a contextualization of modern architecture within iconic landscapes.

Coalescing Architecture


Story By
Katy Niner
Photos By
Vera Iconica Architecture + Longhi Architects
When space, emotion and environment coalesce, architecture becomes art, and the affect is limitless—as felt by the people who experience such inspired spaces. This concept was truly vanguard when Mexican architect Luis Barragán so astutely articulated it decades ago—and remains so today.

“Architecture is an art when one consciously or unconsciously creates aesthetic emotion in the atmosphere and when this environment produces well-being.” -Luis Barragán

Art as architecture as wellness: This is the core dynamic driving the new partnership between aesthetic visionaries Jackson, Wyoming-based Veronica Schreibeis Smith and Lima, Peru-based Luis Longhi, who have joined continental forces; Longhi is the inaugural guest resident at Vera Iconica Architecture. Together, the two talents are trailblazing an international movement toward mindful design: mindful of people, of nature, of cultural heritage and of material integrity. Intuition anchors their design process—the insight based on instinct, experience and creativity. When layered with the practical and the rational, says Schreibeis Smith, the result is “functional, smart spaces that have soul.”

Case in point, the architects’ inaugural collaboration: Pachacamac, a ridgeline refuge built for a Peruvian philosopher. True to the philosopher’s intellect, the residence grows from his library, starting with a central courtyard carved into the hillside, open to the sky. On either side, the library’s wings stretch east and west, spanning the sun’s daily arc, in deference to Peru’s vibrant mythology, symbolic of earthen knowledge extending out to eternity. The house unfolds from this intimate library into more social spaces. “As the program of the house involves more people, it becomes light and more open, culminating in a glass-cube living room to gather guests,” says Longhi.

At Vera Iconica, listening is paramount to the proprietary Intuitive Design Process. The firm considers how architecture impacts people, purpose and planet, using materiality and one-of-a-kind elements to affect clients’ sense of their world and their place within it. Such an approach manifests in masterful details, whether the precise siting of an outdoor hot tub or custom mapping of kitchen cabinetry. “Not only do we listen deeply to our clients, we also read their body language, and ask thought- and emotion-provoking questions,” says Veronica Schreibeis Smith.

“We believe that every person should live in a masterpiece,” the architects say in their vision statement. “And beyond that, we believe that every person deserves to have a home that is not only beautiful, but one that enhances their well-being and quality of life on a daily basis. We define a masterpiece as something that moves our clients, inspires them and elevates them—a work of art, a piece of music, a shared conversation. Essentially, we design experiences. Architecture just happens to be our medium.”

Their work is closely tied to the landscape and epitomizes the aesthetic shared by the two internationally recognized architects, as seen in the conceptual design by Longhi Architects for the premier destination resort Valle Sagrado

Schreibeis Smith and Longhi draw daily inspiration from the nature that surrounds them—she in the Tetons and he on the Altiplano Plateau. “In these places of soaring beauty, we find not only architectural inspiration, but also inspiration on what it means for a life to be lived well,” Schreibeis Smith explains. “To us, that means homes that are designed for wellness and to communicate with the surrounding landscape, designed with local materials, and always in respect for the environment.”

Vera Iconica wants its clients to feel as elevated as their surroundings, attuned to nature and their true natures. Ultimately, the firm’s goal is “to design spaces where our clients derive joy and experience a life of meaning, in beauty”—a benchmark that circles back once again to Barragán and his profound eloquence: “Beauty is the oracle that speaks to us all.”

Veronica Schreibeis Smith and Luis Longhi started working together in 2006 in Peru and in 2015 began discussing ways to align their synergistic visions as architects.

Elements Of A Whole

elements-of-a-whole-01
This living/dining/kitchen space features cherry wood cabinets, a naturally finished cedar ceiling and a Dakota stone-flanked fireplace with a guillotine door and custom-patinaed steel panels and hearth.
ARCHITECTURE
WARD + BLAKE ARCHITECTS
WardBlakeArchitects.com

Story By
Liz Prax

Photos By
Roger Wade + Paul Warchol +
Douglas Kahn

With experience comes courage—courage to push boundaries, to meld new ideas with time-tested fundamentals, to start trends rather than follow them. Since 1996, Ward + Blake Architects has embodied such courage, integrating structural quality, livability and energy efficiency into a holistic design approach that builds homes to last—and to delight.

One of the first characteristics you’ll notice about a Ward + Blake home is the way it blends organically with its natural surroundings. “You can see the layout of the building is pretty much hand-in-glove with what the land is telling us,” says architect Tom Ward. “Basic site analysis starts with topography and ends with orientation.” Factors like wind, precipitation, storm-advancement corridors and solar orientation all play a role.

Roof overhangs and other building components manage sun exposure, allowing the home to “respond slowly to seasonal changes, rather than suddenly being sweltering in summer or cool in the wintertime.”

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Framed by custom corner-locked cedar siding and a sod roof, this stair pavilion’s large window provides beautiful views of the adjacent terrace and mountains.

“If we address fundamental principles like that, when we start applying technology to heating and cooling a home, the demands on the structure become a little easier and less odious,” Ward continues. The caliber of today’s architectural tools is remarkable, he adds. “One of the biggest things is windows and doors. The ones we’re putting in homes these days are so airtight, if you inverted the houses and put them in Jackson Lake, they’d float!”

elements-of-a-whole-03
Carefully integrated with the site slope, this home avoids skylining by never exceeding 20 feet above the original grade. Cedar siding offers contrast against aluminum storefront windows and architectural concrete. The sod roofs control stormwater runoff and blend the home with its natural surroundings.

Installing high-tech systems like a ground-source heat pump, which extracts latent heat from the earth, reduces energy consumption significantly.

“Energy conservation is an important part of the equation, but the livable environment is too,” he says. Today’s homes are sealed so tightly that they trap in unhealthy air pollutants, such as upholstery off-gasses. To rectify this problem, Ward + Blake installs energy recovery units, which pull domestic air out while bringing fresh air in from outside, exchanging the heat from the former to the latter in the process, so there’s no drop in room temperature. This, combined with humidity control, makes a home healthier and more comfortable for its occupants.

elements-of-a-whole-04
Large roof overhangs control the sun exposure entering high-efficiency-glass windows, allowing the home to respond slowly to seasonal changes; concrete floors create thermal mass for storing passive solar energy.

Another design element that Ward + Blake employs with great passion is materiality. For example, its architects consider traditional materials, such as wood and stone, in new and different ways. After experiencing extremely volatile winters like this past one, which brought sudden, dramatic temperature swings, “you start to gain appreciation for more traditional materials that have stood the test of time,” Ward says.

The Ward + Blake team also creates a balanced, pleasing feel in homes by using materials with contrasting textures and colors that aren’t typically used together: rough-cut rustic slate and polished Carrara marble; board-formed concrete and hand-milled cedar siding; manipulated and shaped native fir logs next to concrete and cedar. Ward explains, “When you juxtapose some materials against each other, they both look better and they bring inherent characteristics of each material more to the fore.”

Together, all of these elements form a veritable whole—a long-lasting, energy-efficient home that both comforts and delights.

Architecture for the People

> Story by Kirsten Rue
> Photography Courtesy of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Latham Jenkins, Nic Lehoux, and Paul Warchol

GrandTeton_NL_363002_e2
The 23,000-square-foot Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center was completed in 2007. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the project represents a partnership between the National Park Service, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, and Grand Teton Association. Its courtyard, featuring hand-selected boulders, is pictured here. © Nic Lehoux

The historic homesteads of Grand Teton National Park have attained the same iconic status of the mountains looming behind them. Buffeted by winds, the sweep of snow, and a century of blazing summers, their wood is silver, beams of sun bar wizened floorboards, grass grows from their roofs, and porches lilt precariously on spindly beams of lodgepole pine. To some, their romance is in decay, but that view disregards what they have to tell us.

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The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve began with a 2007 gift from the Rockefeller family of 1,100 acres on the shore of Phelps Lake. After the 35 buildings of the family’s 75-year-old JY Ranch were removed, local firm Carney Logan Burke designed the preserve’s new structures to support Laurance Rockefeller’s message of stewardship, conservation, and nature’s power. © Nic Lehoux

Through their design, two recently built structures in our own backyard craft a new story about national park wilderness and our powerful encounters within it. The Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve are on the vanguard of what national park architecture can be: Representing, in one case, a public-private partnership and, in the other, a significant gift of private land and resources, these modern structures draw on the landscape and inculcate a sense of wonder for a whole new generation of park visitors.

Frame

Despite their undeniable poetry against the raw shear of the mountain range, original homesteads lying within Grand Teton represent an urge more basic: slapping up four walls and a roof against the elements. Katherine Wonson, cultural resources specialist at Grand Teton National Park, explains that, “People built here in order to survive. It’s vernacular architecture in its prime, which is non-architect designed.” This leads to the fiercely idiosyncratic barns and cabins that pepper the open vales of the park—touchstones such as the Moulton Barn or the Cunningham Cabin gained their distinctive look from the individuality of their composition.

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An early-20th-century double-hung, or “lazy,” window at the Bar BC Ranch. For ease of construction, these store-bought frames were hung on their sides, which required cutting fewer logs. In contrast to current park buildings, homestead and dude ranch cabins were usually south-facing to harness the most light.

In the first wave of tourism to the valley, the era of the “dude” was inaugurated, personified here by the Bar BC Ranch. Hewn to mimic the stirring lyricism of the original homesteads, the guest cabins and outbuildings of the ranch date from 1912 onwards, but far more closely resemble rustic structures of the 1890s. They were built via hog trough construction, a method Wonson calls “over-the-top simple.” She points out that this same simplicity and roughness was entirely intentional. Walking a fine line between “working ranch” and an “overly pioneer aesthetic,” this era of building was the first of many waves in the park to consider the experience of the visitor.

GrandTeton_NL_363004_edit-HN

A New Experience of View

In their own ways, both the Craig Thomas Visitor Center and the Rockefeller Preserve take some crucial cues from park structures, even while encapsulating differing goals. Ray Calabro, architect and project manager from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, explains the entrance of the Craig Thomas Center like so: “You’re in this vast landscape with these incredibly tall, vertical mountains and this flat valley and you come to a place that feels quite familiar in a way. It feels like a porch, the lodge. It has a scale that makes you feel comfortable.” The intimate scale broadens as one enters the building, adding “something that I haven’t experienced before—not only in National Park Service architecture—but in some ways in American architecture.” That added element? An experiential quality.

Wonson notes that in this pullback from the view, the Craig Thomas Center gestures towards Mission 66-era park architecture. In Grand Teton, Mission 66 is exemplified by Jackson Lake Lodge. “You walk in and originally the staircase was actually even more narrow than it is today. … You were supposed to have this experience where at first you felt shut in.” At the top of the stairs, however, one is no longer sheltered; the entire range is revealed in a sudden evaporation of indoor/outdoor borders.

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A colonnade at the Craig Thomas Center’s entrance; slatting reminiscent of historic barns; picture window and diorama display inside the Rockefeller Preserve. © Nic Lehoux, © Paul Warchol

This same intimacy of approach is felt in the porch-style entrance of the more modestly sized Rockefeller Preserve. “It is an L-shaped building … and two gable forms have been pulled apart. In between those two principal gable forms is a very low-slung porch roof,” says Kevin Burke, principal of Carney Logan Burke Architects. Mimicking the traditional gabled roofs of homesteads, this initial entrance into an interpretive experience of place is human-sized, drawing back from the grandeur of the national park’s open spaces for an effect more personal and reflective.

For both buildings, a deliberate choreography drives the visitor experience—architectural choices inform and illuminate the richness of the Teton views. In fact, a dance with the view itself was a crucial design focus for BCJ’s team. Calabro describes the approach sequence to the visitor center from a removed parking area along the meadow path, across the colonnaded courtyard, and through the front doors: “You’re compressed in a more narrow vestibule with a lower ceiling, and then as you come through and into that big, light-filled space, the roof kicks up and the view is re-presented to you in that way. … There’s a little bit of drama that we set up as part of that.” In fact, the slender steel mullions of the roof support an echo of the peaks to the west; the line soars and guides the
gaze upwards.

In the case of the Rockefeller Preserve, Burke notes that a 3-D diorama and map greet visitors after entry. Beyond them, sun filters in, as does a beckoning north-facing peak view. Anticipation builds here, he says, as visitors grasp the ecosystem they are about to encounter on the preserve’s 8-mile trail system.

GrandTeton_NL_335_037_edit2
Looking Out: The Craig Thomas building’s hearth—fabricated of concrete and sandstone—centers visitors before the 30-foot glass-and-steel wall, which unveils an always-changing mountain panorama. Regional company Intermountain Construction Inc. served as the general contractor on the project. © Nic Lehoux

Moments of Contemplation

The best architectural choreography does not only reveal and guide—it also makes us feel. Within the Rockefeller Preserve, sensory exhibits emphasize the history of the Rockefellers themselves and Laurance’s mission to cultivate an environmental awareness that park visitors will carry home. Chief among these experiences is a chance to sit still and simply listen within a chapel-like space. The curved room silences with acoustic-dampening ceilings while a soundtrack of rain patter on leaves and birdcalls tunes us to the frequency of the outdoor environment. The tone here is introspective. Burke explains, “Because the light levels are dimmed, it is very evocative of an old barn where boards have pulled apart and you see the sunshine coming through the slats. There’s a really powerful feeling in that space.”

BCJ worked closely with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the interpretive designers for the Craig Thomas Center, to completely meld the architectural experience with the interior exhibits. Calabro and his team recognized immediately that, for many, their time within the center would provide the primary door to understanding the park. He describes how the exhibit design was based on creating a “grand hall” that could encompass educational, contemplative, and social gathering spaces. Rather than a series of separate rooms, the interpretive spaces of the hall are reminiscent of canyons, allowing visitors to focus both inwards and outwards.

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Restorative Space: The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve’s sanctuary-like sound room embodies its namesake’s ethos: “How we treat our land, how we build upon it, how we act toward our air and water will in the long run tell what kind of people we really are.”
© Paul Warchol

All of the surfaces, even the floors, are activated with potential meaning; on the back patio, the precise alignment of each visible Teton peak is introduced via inlaid lines that list names, elevations, and stirring quotes from famed mountaineers.

Neither building operates as visitor centers commonly do—ushering us from box to box and enclosing us as we absorb information without its context. In contrast, the architecture is partner to the program, and we remain linked to the exploration that beckons right outside the window.

Structure Born of Environment

While a reverence for place certainly characterizes our experience within these buildings, their modes of construction draw most directly from the lineage of the park’s built environment.
The tumble of the Tetons’ igneous rocks seems at home in the Craig Thomas Center’s courtyard, where two large, granite boulders emerge from a bed of concrete—one of Calabro’s favorite aspects of the completed building. Each one was hand-selected from a Wyoming quarry and then carefully oriented. “We had this idea about these boulders in the courtyard being pieces of the Tetons that people could touch.”

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Craig Thomas Exterior: Access to 65 years of climate data from the neighboring Moose weather station led BCJ to design concrete shield walls better suited to snow drifts, as well as angled walls and roof planes to filter sunlight.
© Nic Lehoux

Rockefeller Exterior: Custom-composite wood and steel king post trusses support a sawn-timber frame roof—a subtle homage to the original JY Ranch’s boathouse.
© Nic Lehoux

The beams within the center invoke the same emotion. The Forest Stewardship Council-certified Douglas fir beams were also hand-selected. Calabro says of their effect, “The tall columns that you’re standing in are a great forest, and you have this prospect out over the meadow and you see the mountains. There’s a composition there and a way of connecting people to the landscape that is important.”

As the first national park structure to gain Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Platinum status, the Rockefeller Preserve’s team was required to source its materials from a radius no greater than 500 miles from the site of the build. Choices were equally constrained and considered. Burke describes a process of harvesting the fireplace stone on-site and sourcing “highly crafted and refined” western red cedar. “The material palette is kind of sparse in a way. … If you think about those early park structures—any one of the Park Service’s—they’re utilizing what’s available to them in that place.”

One look at the Bar BC’s hand-daubed river rock chimneys certainly reflects this.

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Bar BC Chimney: River rock chimneys and sod roofs are hallmarks of building in accordance with the materials available in the surrounding landscape.

Both architecture firms were also serious about something else: allowing for a natural wood-weathering process. The western red cedar siding on both buildings (clear-heart grade, in the case of the Craig Thomas Center) will be left untreated. As years pass, they will gain the same patina as the heritage barns that already distinguish Antelope Flats—a variegated hue that takes on the blush of sunrise and sunset.

New Solutions for Old Problems

Snow loads and the sapping effect of the bright western sun have been eternal challenges for builders in Jackson Hole. Both architecture firms approached these concerns with the power of technology and simplicity to create environmentally sensitive solutions.

The Craig Thomas Center’s ridged rooflines serve double duty: distributing the snow load evenly while the steel supporting the window wall provides a louver system to shade the interior of the center. Shield walls allow snow to deposit on concrete instead of directly on wood, and a wainscot around the perimeter of the building helps to collect snow as well, leading to a building that is as durable and maintenance-free as possible.

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“We thought it would be nice if you could sense where the loads were by spacing the beams closer together only in those places, so the structure sort of tells you a little bit about what it’s doing and what it’s supporting,” Calabro says.

For Burke and his team at the preserve, the goal was a building that could be day-lit without sacrificing the delicate technologies at work in the interpretive displays. To meet this challenge, Burke says, “we did extensive daylighting studies early. That’s partly why you see the big, broad 12-foot overhang on the east window. One, it helps protect the architecture from all the snow, but it also helps eliminate a lot of daylight coming through.”

GrandTeton_PQB_plan_river
From the original sketch to the raising of laminated Douglas fir beams, to the installation of a maple bench inside the center, BCJ’s design responds to place, weather, and visitor experience. © Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, © Nic Lehoux

Frit glass in the Family Story Gallery reduces 40 percent of the sunlight transmitted and allows all exhibits to function as intended. “Again, it was this really tough interplay in terms of us wanting to create a space that was naturally day-lit and ventilated, but with a program that didn’t want those things. We had to grapple with that in just about every single space we had,” he adds.
Situated on lots that had already been disturbed by human presence, both facilities are surrounded by reclaimed and re-seeded vegetation; species like sage and hawthorn have taken root again. Sitting quietly on the land, the two buildings are holistically connected to it.

A Leap Forward; Look Backwards

Wonson points out that Grand Teton National Park’s historic buildings are not going anywhere. They represent a vital legacy that belongs to park visitors in the same way that the glacial lakes, wildflower meadows, and bugling elk belong to them.

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Rockefeller Porch and Living Room: The building’s materials are echoed in furnishings within and without. Carney Logan Burke custom-designed all of the furniture and light fixtures for these spaces. “It allowed you to distill all the parts and pieces of the architecture and take out the most critical pieces and allow that to then form the DNA of the model furniture pieces,” Burke says. © Paul Warchol

“We have 45 historic districts and about two-thirds of them are in use by park or partners,” she says. The other one-third comprises homesteads and structures that have since been turned over to the Park Service. “They’re some of the most beautiful properties and they have really high integrity,” but it can be difficult to maintain each one. In autumn 2014, the park put forth a historic preservation plan to address some of these concerns; it looks forward to future public-private partnerships that will breathe new life into potentially neglected structures.

In the preserve guest book, page after page of scrawling script attests to the building’s resonance. “Although the landscape will change constantly, this beautiful center will hold fast for so many people to reflect and inspire generations,” writes one family. “The architecture and place are perfectly matched.”

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Cultural Inheritance: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Bar BC Ranch is just one of the park’s historic districts with conservation efforts underway. Its founder, author Struthers Burt, referred to Grand Teton National Park as “a museum on the hoof.”

Calabro describes the joy of going incognito and observing visitors in the space he and his firm designed: “No one knows that I was the architect. Standing by the entry and watching people as they come in—the look on their faces; their jaws drop. The kids immediately run to the exhibits. Seeing that kind of reaction is so satisfying as an architect.

“The parks are such an important part of American history and culture. They are a resource that is precious and should be valued. Certainly our contribution to the park is one that I hope heightens that sense of experience and value for people. It’s immeasurable.”

View From the Top

The renovation sought to open up the home, offering a more intuitive layout and inviting, modern ambiance. Utilizing a thoughtful blend of finishes, the team created a space that is at once classic and contemporary.


Story By
MELISSA THOMASMA
Photos By
KRAFTY PHOTOS

ARCHITECTURE
DUBBE MOULDER ARCHITECTS
DUBBE-MOULDER.COM

CONSTRUCTION
CREATIVE BUILDING SOLUTIONS
CBSLLCCONSTRUCTION.COM

INTERIOR DESIGN
FORSYTH & BROWN INTERIOR DESIGN
FORSYTHANDBROWN.COM

LANDSCAPING
MOUNTAINSCAPES
MOUNTAINSCAPESJH.COM

Jackson Hole offers beauty that is absolute, enduring and truly timeless. At each turn, the rugged perfection of the wild spaces of the Teton Range and the expansive, river-carved valley it towers above have evoked awe and thrill for as long as humans have laid eyes on them. They’ve certainly never fallen out of fashion.

In contrast, Jackson Hole residents’ preferences within the human-designed world are ephemeral. Trends come and go. Styles fade in and out as the decades roll by. And when they pass, they often leave behind once state-of-the-art spaces that now invite reimagining.

The Starflower Home is a perfect example. Located in the steep, forested neighborhood of Indian Paintbrush, it was constructed in the mid-1970s. When new owners acquired it four years ago, this same juxtaposition was at play: While the landscape views were as breathtaking as ever, and the pristine hillside woods lent an immersive richness, the home style itself was outdated.

Expansive windows and spacious decks create an effortless flow between the comfort of the interior and the peace of the surrounding natural exteriors.

“The clients had come up here for a number of years, and of course fallen in love—a pretty standard love affair with our great part of the world,” explains Kurt Dubbe, of Dubbe Moulder Architects, the lead architect on the remodel project. “They purchased the existing home, which was fairly stylized and definitely dated.”

Creating a stark contrast by darkening the existing exposed ceiling beams brought the home a sense of balance.

In collaboration with Dubbe’s team, Creative Building Solutions’ owner and principal, Chad Grohne, interior designers from Forsyth & Brown and landscaping experts from MountainScapes, the property owners shared their vision for the project: a renewed space that offered a more home-like and contemporary atmosphere while continuing to emphasize the surrounding views.

The original, rather low-slung, almost ranch-style building was located high up on a hill. “The views are breathtaking in the woods,” observes Dubbe. “We evaluated all the existing conditions and determined that the bones of the structure were sound: It’s a very well-built house. They wanted a new set of ‘clothes’ that would be a little bit less stylized in a dated sense. We set out to design something more timeless, but still infused with a mountain contemporary ambiance.”

“It’s a supremely cool house,” agrees Grohne. “It’s amazing when you first walk in how impactful it is on the whole experience to see the wide-open views of the valley. The perspective of the house is incredible—a view like that is quite rare. You’re positioned high above the valley and looking all the way to the Tetons.”

The team created a vision that was built around the axis of the Teton views and sought to bring an increased sense of openness and flow to the home. Grohne achieved this ambiance through the thoughtful use of glass, stone and natural wood finishes. With an eye to creating a seamless indoor and outdoor experience, the team expanded windows, improved multiple decks and designed a unique semi-covered patio space. Partially enclosed with rough-hewn stone walls and sheltered under an innovative butterfly roof, the patio boasts a built-in grill and fire pit, further underscoring the effortless flow between the home’s interior and the unparalleled beauty of the surrounding landscape.

One end of the main floor is anchored around a stunning, contemporary fireplace. Replacing the original stylized moss-rock feature and diminutive firebox, the sleek, bold, subtly industrial new fireplace produces a sophisticated balance in the space. The steel plates with blued and waxed finish and the exposed fasteners and rivets command a modern sense of elegance.

Contributing to the air of expansiveness is the home’s lofty ceiling with exposed beams. After exploring multiple approaches, explains Amy Brown, of interior design firm Forsyth & Brown, the team decided to lend the beams a dark color, creating a high contrast with the ceiling itself. “The richness of the beams in the living space helps weigh out the fireplace,” she observes.

Perched in the inimitable Indian Paintbrush neighborhood south of Wilson, this artfully renovated home celebrates a breathtaking perspective on the surrounding peaks and valley below.

Brown believes that this project exemplifies the potential inherent in remodeling an existing home instead of building anew. “The possibilities of remodeling versus tearing something down and starting all over again are expansive. This house was a prime place to do that. It had good bones and just needed new interior finishing,” she says.

Brown and her partner, Jodi Forsyth, found inspiration in both the styles and interior pieces that the family already owned, as well as the vision to create a space that highlighted exterior views and natural elegance. Ultimately, they selected finishes that offered lasting beauty through simplicity.

“It was a fun challenge to design with the given mix of styles—and to select the interior finishes that would complement all of it and create a cohesive, balanced environment,” Forsyth recalls.

The ease with which the home blends into the surroundings, and the harmonious flow among materials, including the landscaping, are flawless. “The overall goal was to restore the property back to a more natural, native state,” says Sean Macauley, of MountainScapes Landscaping. “The vision was to have it blend in with the already-existing surroundings. To achieve that, we used native grass sod and plant materials that we saw already flourishing on the property. The materials were all sourced locally, and we were able to make the house smoothly integrate into the hillside.”

By mindfully embracing and showcasing what made this home unique in its original form, the team achieved a stunning renovation of a truly exceptional property. Reimagining the home’s flow, prioritizing a sense of openness and balance, and enhancing the ways in which the space embraced a mountain contemporary style, the creative team’s vision sprang to life in a vibrant way. Their success revolved around recognizing what elements required an update and what pieces merited preservation. Clearly, they agreed on celebrating the most awe-inspiring and enduring feature of this distinctive space: an inimitable perspective on one of the most spectacular mountain panoramas on earth.

The Space Between

The recessed light pocket accentuates this space between the guest bedrooms. The flooring is 13.5”-wide French oak from The Hudson Company.


Story By
ZACHARY BARNETT
Photos By
TUCK FAUNTLEROY

ARCHITECTURE + INTERIOR DESIGN
MESSANA O’RORKE
MESSANAORORKE.COM

ANKENY ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
ANKENYARCHITECTURE.COM

CONSTRUCTION
TWO OCEAN BUILDERS
TWOOCEANBUILDERS.COM

HOME AUTOMATION
JACKSON HOLE AV
JACKSONHOLEAV.COM

CABINETRY & CUSTOM MILLWORK
WILLOW CREEK WOODWORKS
WILLOWCW.COM

THE HUDSON COMPANY
THEHUDSONCO.COM

For years in Jackson Hole design, the big “log” cabin was a given. It was a movement. Buyers wanted their own Ponderosa, their own Gunsmoke. Big was better, for this was the Wild West. But there
are always other ideas, new points of view and design options. Take minimalism, for instance.

“Not only are you working in limited space,” says Brian Messana,
of the New York City firm Messana O’Rorke, which developed its minimalist approach designing apartments and lofts in Manhattan, “but you’re choreographing how that space will be used and seeing what doesn’t need to be there. The lessons we learned were very much about form and function and what the intention is. Minimalism for us has become an expression of giving each thing the space to have meaning.”

First things first: Minimalism is complex. It does not abandon function, but rather embraces it through masterstrokes of clean, unfettered lines.

The Imagist poets of the early 20th century felt the same. As they sought a deeper clarity of expression, excess verbiage had to go. Things were no longer decoration but the very essence, the power. And what gave things this power was the removal of the extraneous. Less became more.

Family gathering. All the elements come together here in stone and wood: Sit dining room chairs and bench, a Tavola table and a commissioned painting by Susan Vecsey.

And then composer Claude Debussy took this concept a step further when he suggested that music was not the notes but “the space between.” When Messana and partner Toby O’Rorke were contracted by Brian’s brother, Mark, and sister-in-law, Ann, to design a house here in Jackson Hole, these ideas were very much in play. “As we began talking about what this house could be,” recounts Mark, “we saw it as a gathering place for family and friends—not about stuff and clutter and how to store it all. We wanted the attention to be on us and our time together, and the making of memories.”

And so the Messanas began methodically assembling a team, first by pairing Brian with local architect Shawn Ankeny, of Ankeny Architecture and Design, both because of her familiarity with area building codes, construction details and industry workers, and because of her growing reputation as a brilliant collaborator and architect. Next, because of their meticulous attention to detail, a Two Ocean Builders team headed by Bobby Henninger and his foreman, Jesse Mitchell, were brought on, along with Jaxon Ching and his team at Willow Creek Woodworks, and Rich Ashburn, of Jackson Hole AV. Lastly, they reached out to Jamie Hammel at The Hudson Company for Brian’s very specific lumber needs.

Concealed pocket lights in niche and ceiling illuminate clean lines while floor-to- ceiling doors hide closets. Flooring and paneling by The Hudson Company.

What followed was an ongoing dialogue about the balance between form and function. Messana O’Rorke was given the time to create a complete set of detailed drawings and adaptations while Ankeny, Henninger and Mitchell ensured that the design’s intent remained true throughout the course of the project.

Space to move, live and entertain in the great room. Sofa by B&B Italia, stools by BassamFellows, commissioned painting by Jared Sanders and coffee table designed by Messana O’Rorke.

And this house is very much about the function of beauty, the details you see and the ones you don’t. The vertical pocket lights hidden from view and the receding pocket doors create a sense of flow. Overall, the home is a composition in four stanzas: wood-stone-wood-stone. Its four distinctly separate structures are connected by 6-foot glass passages, which become the breaths between the stanzas. What stands at the center are the great room and kitchen, creating the gathering space the Messanas desired. From all sides, the great room draws you in.

View of the guest loft with Hans Wegner lounge chair and custom-designed bed by Messana O’Rorke.

“From the technical aspect,” explains Ankeny, “the spacing between structures allowed us to break up the volume and avoid the accumulation of snow and ice in the roof valleys, while creating these spectacular light passages. From a poetic standpoint, the links provided these moments where you connect and feel the outdoors as you’re crossing from one structure to the next. These separations also make the house more intimate. Instead of one big mass, the four smaller volumes create a sense of wonder. Each one is different.”

The custom kitchen designed my Messana O’Rorke honors the 18’ expanse of the great room, while cabinets in stained oak float 12” beneath the ceiling. The two islands are clad in Carrara marble, and appliances are by Miele. Countertops are by European Marble and Granite.

But there is more to this—or less, actually. Throughout the home’s four stanzas runs a kind of tapping, a beat within the beat, a theme of quarter-inch reveals, reglets separating surfaces— surfaces to floor and surfaces to ceiling. The visual effect is of the ceiling floating above the walls, and the floor floating beneath. And, without baseboards or moldings, every detail has to be perfect.

Composition in four stanzas. Wood, stone, wood, stone, each standing alone and yet linked by glass passages.

“The result is very calming,” says Henninger. “It’s a difficult task to achieve this level of simplicity. Simple is complex. In a house like this, there aren’t a lot of other things to distract your eye besides the architecture, and so the architecture becomes the art. There can’t be flaws.”

“The designs were extremely difficult to achieve,” adds Ching. “The cabinetry, surfaces and veneers had to be perfect. If the plans called for a quarter-inch reveal, then that’s what we brought. Brian challenged us in a lot of ways. Having never worked with him before, we really enjoyed it.”

Hammel points out the Allagash veneers in the cabinetry and Ditch Plains French oak used in the flooring. “We originally brought it in as wet logs from Normandy,” he says. “Then we had to dry it to this area’s humidity level and mill it. That flooring was shrunk face, meaning it had a lot of movement in it, a lot of contour. And those were 13.5-inch-by-18-foot boards—a very rare order. Usually we ship boards in the 7-foot range.”

LEFT
This minimalistic recessed door pull accentuates the clean lines featured throughout the house.

MIDDLE
The granite floor seamlessly transitions to all surfaces of the spa.

RIGHT
The kitchen island features Carrara stone and custom-stained oak cabinetry.

Not uncoincidentally, an 18-foot-wide expanse in the great room runs north to south into the kitchen and beyond without interruption. When the pocket doors are pushed back on both ends, the room suddenly becomes an indoor-outdoor canopy stretching out onto the terrace and joining with the master bedroom and guest rooms on either side. A long, paned clerestory across the gabled ceiling of the great room vents in light throughout.

Steam room clad in Carrara tile with custom bench

The complexities of minimalism even extend to the operating systems, which are fully integrated and state-of-the-art, yet understated. “What stood out to us in assembling Mark’s electronics system,” remembers Ashburn, “was his level of passion. He wanted to do it right. You don’t see the speakers in the ceilings unless you really look. The TV in the master bedroom recedes into the floor so that it doesn’t detract from the views. It was all about the clean lines and the architecture.”

Pushed out from the volume of the house, the spa provides views and, when the side doors open, cross ventilation.

“Shawn would always say, ‘This is so zen,’” recalls Mark. “The whole team got along great, and the experience of working with them really added to our appreciation of the house.”

Summarizing the project, Henninger says, “Brian’s and Toby’s designs brought the best out of us. It seemed like we were being called upon to find our solutions and execute in every moment. It was a symphony of many players. We all had to come together and play note perfect, and we did just that.”

Be A Guest In Your Own Home

The exposed, black I-beams and clear, vertical-grain red cedar, with a flat, protective coating, extending above the porch bring the outside in.


Story By
JULIE FUSTANIO
Photos By
KRAFTY PHOTOS

ARCHITECTURE
DESIGN ASSOCIATES
NEWWESTFURNITURE.COM

FURNISHINGS
WILD WEST DESIGNS
DAJH.COM

The rule of threes is as common in architecture as it is in writing. The writing principle that states that three characters, like the Three Little Pigs or Three Musketeers, are more effective in emphasizing an idea is also effective in design.

In the case of this guesthouse built south of Jackson, three elements distinguish its remarkable design: a simple, c-channel steel frame; a vertical, reclaimed wood exterior; and clear, vertical-grain red cedar in both the ceiling and key outdoor places, such as the underside of the deck overhang and the soffit above the modern metal door.

 

“This look needs enough lines to make the shape work,” says architect Chris Lee. “The relief on the roof and the step of the beams are all important.”

Design Associates is one of the oldest architecture firms in Jackson. John Morgan started it in the late 1960s in response to Paul McCollister’s desire to build a ski resort. He quickly added Vince Lee, a young draftsman who was also a climber, former U.S. Marine and passionate student of the lost world. (Lee later became one of the world authorities on Incan architecture.)

Chris Lee and his father, Vince

The firm exists today because Chris Lee took over in 2000 for his father, who he calls Indiana Jones. He and his wife, Kathy, hiked 100 miles along the Inca Trail with his parents before Google Maps existed.

“Solving a design is like a Sudoku puzzle,” he says. “Deducing a good plan and pulling it into 3-D—that passion I got from my dad.”

“I don’t know if there are rules, but four things are too many, and three things work really well,” says Chris Lee, principal architect of Design Associates.

His clients—a family of four—plan to live in this guesthouse until construction of the main house is complete. Lee adapted easily to the look
they wanted, drawing on the style of homes in Martis Camp, a lodge near
Lake Tahoe. The result, built by JH Builders, is an efficient, 1,000-square-foot building that lives as well on the inside as it does on the outside. A wraparound porch with big overhangs has discreetly hidden screens and built-in heaters in the outer beams, enabling enjoyment of the private pond in comfort.

The materials of this steel-framed jewel box are sculpted into a butterfly
roof with long lines to create an envelope that is super insulated from the harsh Jackson Hole winters. Lee imported Bildau & Bussmann windows from Germany, because of their R-value (thermal resistance), and installed in-floor hydronic heat.

“The best architecture is the simplest,” he says. “With a guesthouse, you have to be economical, because every little bit counts. You can sketch this house in nine seconds. Once it gets a hold of you, it’s like a language.”

Blending into the Landscape

The owners originally requested a home inspired by a villa, but after a site visit, the landscape instead inspired architect Mitch Blake to propose a horizontal home that would stretch across the property and blend with the horizon.


Story By
KELSEY DAYTON
Photos By
ROGER WADE

ARCHITECTURE
WARD | BLAKE ARCHITECTS
WARDBLAKE.COM

Among a sweeping expanse of grains and grasses, a modern home stretches unobtrusively, surrounded by views that extend for miles across an open landscape and include the silhouette of the Teton Range in the distance.

This Idaho home is not so much on the landscape, but of the landscape. The owners originally approached Ward Blake Architects about designing a house inspired by a Tuscan villa. But when architect Mitch Blake visited the site, the strong horizontal plane of the landscape inspired a different idea. With the owners’ blessing, he designed a building with an elongated floor plan to capture the surrounding views, while blending into the landscape. The resulting structure, situated on 160 acres, has sod roofs, and the grain fields of the neighboring farmland come right to its edge, rooting the home to the earth.

Blake designed the building on one level to stretch across the landscape and blend into the natural environment. Massive windows throughout—many floor-to-ceiling—allow light to pour in and provide a sense of openness.

“You don’t feel constrained in the house,” Blake says. “It just kind of expands. The views are so great we opened up whole walls to the Tetons.”

The windows are also designed to maximize solar benefits. The roof overhang is perfectly calculated to allow winter sun into the house. Concrete floors absorb the heat and keep the home temperate no matter the weather. The design works so well that on a bitter cold day when the house was still under construction, Blake visited the site and found workers inside without jackets.

The owners wanted a modern home with a connection to the natural environment. Large windows throughout the house give it a sense of openness and blur the indoors and outdoors, bringing the outside in.
The front door of the home is a tribute to Western culture and designed as a reinterpretation of a Western fence. Steel beams supporting the roof in the exterior entryway are wrapped in split logs, blending rustic and industrial elements.

The building had been warmed merely by the passive solar heat. The home features a master suite, as well as a living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, sauna and garage. There are also guest quarters with bedrooms and a small sitting area in a separate wing connected to the main house by a covered pathway.

The ceilings are made of wood from an old barn, and the fireplace is made with stone from an old one-room schoolhouse. The aesthetic fits the owners’ personalities and makes it feel like a sanctuary, Blake says.

“It’s a composition of raw materials assembled in a modern way,” he explains. “It’s a fun, comfortable house—a place where you feel like you can totally relax.”

20 Years Of Reflection + Inspiration


Story By
ZACHARY DYMOND BARNETT
+ ELIZABETH CLAIR FLOOD

Since Homestead’s inception in 2001, homebuilding design in Jackson Hole has evolved significantly. And yet, some goals and challenges have remained the same. For this special anniversary issue, we interviewed a wide range of our valley’s top design experts to get a sense of where we were then as a community and how far we’ve come in the ensuing two decades.

WESTERN STYLE | THE EARLY 2000s

When this magazine launched in 2001, the large log home still dominated the Jackson Hole landscape, while a new wave of architects was looking for opportunities to employ a more progressive take on Western design. The ’90s had already experienced a few memorable splashes of “modern,” such as Will Bruder’s Riddell Building, Mad River Boat Trips’ wedge structure and Ward + Blake’s integrated designs. And though some of these had set off skirmishes in the press, they’d also bumped the needle toward a more expansive narrative about the future of Jackson Hole design. Recalls architect John Carney, “Steve Dynia and I were always talking about what Jackson would be. Would it be a Disney version of a frontier town? You couldn’t be a complete modernist because you wouldn’t get any jobs. I’d say, ‘Steve, you can’t do that kind of work here, you need gable roofs.’”

Fighting Bear Antiques

Meanwhile, a multitude of second-home buyers, gentleman ranchers and Wall Street moguls were now arriving with hopes of realizing their frontier dreams. As their modern sensibilities combined with a traditional, rustic homage to early Jackson Hole days, a new, more complex Western style emerged.

Architects willing to fulfill the more traditional ranch dreams at that time, such as Danny Williams, Roger Strout and Ellis Nunn, along with talented “log dogs” like Callum Mackay and Steve Leonard (now of Wilson Timber and Log), were experiencing a boom. Our Homestead issues then celebrated log lodges appointed with early 20th-century furniture, Navajo rugs and elk mounts displayed over large, stone fireplaces. Paintings by landscape and wildlife masters, like Carl Rungius and Conrad Schwiering, as well as work by local maverick and pop artist Bill Schenck, hung on cabin walls. Keeping up with the demand, Jackson interior designers like Elisa Chambers, of Snake River Interiors, Terry Trauner, now with Trauner Fay Designs, Pamela Stockton, of Stockton & Shirk Interior Designs, and others created nostalgic, iconic interiors with bold browns and reds and cowboy imagery.

Ellis Nunn + Associates and Teton Heritage Builders

A WALK THROUGH TIME …

LEFT The Red Chair
MIDDLE Gallinger Trauner Designs
RIGHT Ellis Nunn + Associates

Residents often come to an architect with predetermined ideas—a rugged log home, a rustic, elegant timber- frame lodge, or lately, a contemporary blending of new technology and traditional materials.
—HOMESTEAD 2001

Dan Schou Construction
Berlin Architects
Harker Design

“In 2000, we were replicating what happened here in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s,” says antique dealer, stylist and leading vendor of the area’s primitive furniture Terry Winchell, of Fighting Bear Antiques. “The way that I saw it was that I should be selling the stuff that was in a Wyoming lodge in the 1920s, whether it was a Charlie Russell painting, a Navajo rug or a Thomas Molesworth club chair.” Jackson was originally a poor town of one-room cabins, sheds and metal Quonset huts. In the early years, it didn’t boast a significant architectural or interior style, except for the sophisticated Western look at local dude ranches like the Rockefellers’ JY Ranch and Struthers Burt’s Bar BC, and lodges like the Old Faithful Inn. These homegrown interiors blended local art with Indian blankets and baskets, simple cowboy pole chairs and tables, and Arts and Crafts furniture by nationally renowned artists Gustav Stickley and Charles Limbert.

LEFT Roger Strout Architects
MIDDLE Bontecou Construction
RIGHT Dembergh Construction

One of the most influential architects of the early 2000s, Jonathan Foote created fashionable, rustic retreats in keeping with this historic culture to accommodate the gentleman rancher’s desire for a larger, yet more efficient space. Captivated by the local ranch and dude ranch vernacular, Foote used authentic cabins and barns and essentially linked them together to create larger homes that were in keeping with the wide-open, rugged landscape.

Danny Williams Architect

“When invading this scenery with a house, one of the first concerns I had was how it was going to live in that scenery without spoiling it,” Foote says. By using rustic materials, he invented a successful model for romantics seeking a classic Western hideaway.
“The romance with the West at that time really drove our sensibility around place,” says Foote’s then partner, Paul Bertelli. “We felt these buildings needed to look and feel like they belonged in the West.”

Laurie Waterhouse Interiors
LEFT Wild West Designs
MIDDLE Kismet Fine Rugs
RIGHT Strout Achitects

It was the contrast of building modern buildings in a rural area. It was almost like a dare.
—STEPHEN DYNIA, DYNIA ARCHITECTS

MOUNTAIN MODERN | 2008 – 2020

In the following decade, contemporary homes gained traction as newcomers craved picture windows framing extraordinary landscapes, lighter rooms and more energy- efficient buildings. This was in contrast to the perception of log homes as inherently dark, heavy, cumbersome and out of proportion—exaggerated versions of the old homestead, hence the popular jab, “log cabins on steroids.” Commenting on these cowboy interiors at the time, The New York Times style writer Patricia Beard admonished, “The style makes a bow-legged cowgirl shake in her knees.” People were ready for something new.

“The log home ended with the crash of 2008,” says Peter Lee, of Teton Heritage Builders. “Log homes haven’t completely gone away, but pre-2008 was the era when people were weaned on John Wayne, and they liked that rustic feel and the idea of the Jackson Hole cabin. There was a transition after the 2008 crash to mountain modern, mountain contemporary. There was timber frame, then timber, then steel eventually. Seventy percent of our business today is steel structures.”

E/Ye Design and Henderson Construction

“Once styles started to open up and become more contemporary, we felt the lid come off,” says Toby Grohne, of TKG Construction. “The style was partly driven by aesthetics, and I think a lot of it was driven by zoning changes.” In certain neighborhoods, restrictions on roof heights called for lower buildings. Flatter, less gabled roofs helped clients achieve comfortable, two-story homes within the rules.

“We started to see the use of reclaimed wood as accents in interiors; spaces were a little bit brighter rather than heavy timbers with exposed fasteners and large trusses,” says Jed Mixter, of Two Ocean Builders.

Hoyt + Harger/CTA Architects
LEFT Dwelling
MIDDLE Grace Home Design
RIGHT Snake River Interiors and Hoyt + Harger/CTA Architects

During this time, Dynia continued to challenge the norm with rusted steel, flatter roofs and modern shapes. Ward + Blake was integrating structures into the landscape with flat or butterfly roofs, while Carney and others expanded on this conversation, meeting a demand for even more modern- style buildings. “We were all working toward abstract interpretations of the classical West,” Carney says, “all of us moving in our own way to push this thing forward.”

Dan Schou Construction and Mountainscapes

As we moved through the 2000s, this transition continued to be peppered with resistance. When Dynia and Carney finished the theater for the Center for the Arts in 2007, an old-timer questioned Carney: “Where are the logs?” Others received similar pushback.

“When we started with sod roofs, people thought we’d lost our minds,” recalls Tom Ward, of Ward + Blake Architects. “It was Mitch and Tom naked and barking in the woods. Now people are more open to the concept. They’ve gone from ultra-conservative to conservative to much more open-minded.”

E/Ye Design and Henderson Construction

As contemporary visionaries stepped forward, the question persisted: Were these buildings in keeping with place? Did they fit into the natural landscape and connect in a cultural context? This has to be asked about how “boxy” things have become in east Jackson, for example, where older homes are being torn down and hauled away at what some locals consider an alarming rate.

“I think modern architecture gets a bad rap in that it is agnostic to place,” says Danny Wicke, Carney’s partner at their new enterprise, Prospect Studio. “I don’t necessarily think that is true. You can do a lot of contemporary design that still harkens back to place and the context and can have a relationship with past and present.”

LEFT Carney Logan Burke Architects
MIDDLE Berlin Architects and Bontecou Construction
RIGHT Dynia Architects and CLB Architects

Now, as before, this valley provides evolving opportunities for designers. “Jackson is a very young town, and there really isn’t much of an architectural style here,” says Adam Janak, of Northworks Architects, who enjoys exploring many different styles. Recently, with a nod to the past, but also a distinctly modern aesthetic, Janak updated the classic farmhouse style with large windows and simple cedar siding painted black, creating a classic, yet original modern home.

WRJ Design

Meanwhile, interiors have also evolved. Bertelli, of JLF Architects, continues to create highly sought-after homes that “look like they were built 100 years ago.” He updates these rugged classics with large, European windows, steel, stone and reclaimed timbers, and a more efficient and contemporary sensibility. When paired with the subtle, muted tones and luxury styles of interior designers Rush Jenkins and Klaus Baer, of WRJ Design, authors of Natural Elegance, and Jane Schwab, author of The Welcoming House, these homes exude a serene, timeless quality.

ARE WE SUSTAINABLE?

Looking to the future, on everyone’s minds is how we can create sustainable buildings and live more lightly on the land. Our new structures are more energy-efficient than log homes, but are we doing enough? Veronica Dembergh Construction and Dynia Architects Schreibeis, of Vera Iconica Architecture, notices a change in her clients’ mindsets. “There’s a paradigm shift in our society on a massive scale. And as we move into this new era, we’ve all been trained for this. Every single architect has some green knowledge. Our clients are asking, ‘How will the environment serve and sustain us?’ They are more than ever in the self- realization stage.”

Dembergh Construction and Dynia Architects

Others notice little change at all. “After the crash, we thought that maybe we’d see behavior toward a little smaller, a little greener,” Lee says. “I even started a side business 10 years ago, called THB Energy Solutions, to retrofit homes with geothermal heat and solar panels. And it was a lackluster business. I’d show clients how they’d get a 14 percent return on their business, and they’d say, ‘Meh!’ I don’t know if I’m going to be here in seven years.”

That said, green building materials, renewable woods like bamboo, and recycled materials are being used now more than ever. “The county also holds us to a high standard of constructing energy-efficient buildings,” says Mixter, of Two Ocean Builders. “And, because we’ve now got all these great European windows with their triple glazing, we’re meeting county codes for energy efficiency with bigger glass.”

“Building science has evolved toward green across the board,” says Andrew Miller, of JH Builders. “We are using better materials and processes, so everything is greener. We went to D.C. and got our PHIUS (Passive House Institute U.S.) certification, but there is really only one architect in the valley who is pushing it. But, generally speaking, insulation and materials perform so much better.”

LEFT Dwelling and Mill Iron Timberworks
MIDDLE Kinsey Architects
MID-RIGHT Jacque Jenkins-Stireman Interior Design
RIGHT Will Bruder Architects

Clients are asking about green, “but they don’t always want to make a sacrifice to do it,” says Chris Lee, of Design Associates Architects. “That said, we can build a house that is going to be here a long time, a happier and healthier house, without giving anything up, and they like that.”

Grohne notes that, in an effort to minimize waste, more people are remodeling. Others—architects and contractors—report that clients are downsizing. But, while smaller homes under 10,000 square feet are popping up, Bertelli and Peter Lee confirm that they are still building grand family compounds. Just recently, Lee’s company finished an 18,000-square-foot home on the iconic Puzzleface Ranch property. An anomaly, yes, this project stirred controversy and challenged county codes, then surprised our community when the family put their multimillion-dollar home up for sale.

Today, our highly talented pool of valley architects and designers feels responsible for building environmentally friendly, enduring homes. “One of the best green things you can do is keep what you are building out of the landfill,” says Mitch Blake, of Ward + Blake Architects.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Today, with all of us turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is challenging to imagine where current design trends may lead. Clearly, we are seeing a change in the demographics of homeowners as a wave of wealthy 30- and 40-year-olds moves into Jackson Hole.

“It’s a younger demographic, and more female,” notes Grohne. “They want to see the Tetons, but they don’t necessarily want to be cowboys or live out in the wild.” These newcomers are more interested in living downtown, where they can find a growing offering of amenities and cultural attractions.

This new generation, for the most part, doesn’t necessarily connect to the cowboy myth that dominated the style here 20 years ago. Cowboy accoutrements, fur pillows, skulls and Indian artifacts now seem politically incorrect, says Mary Schmitt, owner of Cayuse Western Americana. “My clients are more interested in historical photographs of this place now than they are in cowboy spurs or wooly chaps,” she says.

Carney Logan Burke Associates, Two Ocean Builders, Dwelling and Mountainscapes

The trend away from the traditional log cabin continues as well, says Jenkins. “I grew up in the West, but when we moved back, we had a desire to move beyond the heavy log look. What we saw was an opportunity in our designs to embrace the rugged landscape around us, what we call ‘interroir.’ It is our signature approach. And yes, we see the clientele changing. We’re having to travel a lot more because you need a rich, deep well to draw from when meeting the needs of an evermore sophisticated taste.”

LEFT WRJ Design
MIDDLE Dynia Architects and Mill Iron Timberworks
RIGHT Ellis Nunn Architects, Two Ocean Builders, Willow Creek Interior Design and Mountainscapes

Giving life to the hopes and dreams that people have for their homes requires a designer to have empathy, a true love of helping others, and a solid understanding of people’s values and how they want to live and express their most authentic selves through their home.
—ELISA CHAMBERS, SNAKE RIVER INTERIORS

Other designers, like Kate Binger, of Dwelling, Jacque Jenkins-Stireman, of Jacque Jenkins-Stireman Design, and Colleen Walls of Colleen McFadden- Walls Interior Design, find clients seeking more original designs with color and contemporary furniture. “We are seeing a trend to incorporate traditional elements, but with a current update,” says Jenkins-Stireman. “Now you can find wools, cashmeres and linens with colorways that are lighter and have more open patterns, so the plaids feel lighter and fresher.”

Design Associates and Snake River Interiors

Says Binger, “Current trends are always the driving force of design in any community, but I like to lean heavily on our environment for inspiration for form and function.”

JH Builders and Trauner Fay Designs

For the most part, today’s homeowners want more than what is readily available in town. “We are cursed by Pinterest and all the beautiful visions of the world’s showrooms, but with very little in stock,” Grohne says, laughing but obviously thrilled with the challenge. At the time of this issue’s publication, he was trying to help Californian clients choose a white from six different whites over Zoom calls.

LEFT Teton Heritage Builders and GYDE Architects
MIDDLE Dynia Architects, Jacque Jenkins-Stireman Interior Design and Mill Iron Timberworks
RIGHT Vera Iconica Architecture

Emily Janak, of Emily Janak Interiors, says she enjoys collaborating with Jackson Hole clients because they are well-traveled, enthusiastic about living here and open to more eclectic interiors, rather than following trends. Janak references past traditions and established designers in their heyday. “It’s always my goal to create interiors that are relevant for years to come. I really think as a designer you have to push yourself to create things that are not in a catalog, to push it to the next level, to create something more original,” she says. “It’s about striking that balance. You are never going to create a legacy if you create something that is expected.”

Willow Creek Woodworks

The enthusiasm and joy that come with building a new home in Jackson Hole exist in balance with the community’s commitment to the valley’s heritage. Recently, young people were moved to save the Cafe? Genevieve block in downtown Jackson, which involved protecting historic buildings and creating space for the community to gather.

Ward + Blake Architects

“We have a lot of talent in this valley, and a lot of high-caliber work is being done here,” Mixter says. What started with the old guard continues. Young designers want to create beautiful, relevant homes, but also an enduring community.

LEFT Dubbe Moulder Architects
MIDDLE Stockton & Shirk Interior Design
RIGHT Howells Architecture + Design, Dembergh Construction, Dwelling and Willow Creek Woodworks

THE FUTURE

With all of this, the elephant in the room remains: Will we eventually run out of buildable space? Answers Peter Lee, “Totally. From the day I started in ’96, I’d hear that refrain. Except that every job I’d do I’d drive up to a green field and dig a hole. That isn’t true anymore. Now, our jobs are typically starting with teardowns of houses from the ’90s and before. Houses are getting stripped down and built again for the 21st century. Now we’re seeing build sites with a 25 percent grade, on the cusp of unbuildable. It’s officially happened.”
“I think we’ll see more vertical construction and transportation hubs,” says Jamie Farmer, of Farmer Payne Architects. “We’ll see a transfer of density from the outskirts of the county into town to keep us from overflowing.”

“As the number of high-end lots with spectacular views decreases, homeowners are focusing more on landscaping,” says Mixter. “It really complements the architecture of a house and reflects the success of the comprehensive project.”

Farmer Payne Architects and New West Building Co.

Miller says that, “going forward, our vision is possibly 50 percent renovation. We’re seeing a lot of it already, because of the limited availability of land. Homeowners are liking the locations of existing homes, so we expect this to increase in the next 10 years.”

“Yes,” agrees Ward, “there’s a pervasive sense we’re running out of land. Smart landowners aren’t developing right now. It’s going to get harder and harder to live here, which is a privilege, not a right. Everyone wants it all: no density but plenty of living space.”

Gilday Architects

Such dilemmas are beyond the solutions that these design experts have to offer, he adds. “History has proven that architects are bad social engineers. We respond to the times; we don’t decide them. A lot of architects think it’s part of their mission to decide their times. That’s not our mission. Our job is to make incredible houses that people love. That’s all we do—make their underwear ride up when they walk in the door.”

LEFT WRJ Design
MIDDLE Dembergh Construction and Dubbe Moulder Architects
RIGHT Jacque Jenkins-Stireman Interior Design

Dembergh is grateful. We have been allowed to become the craftsmen that most craftsmen dream of becoming because our clients have allowed us to grow, to learn and become masters of refined vision and design. We thank them.
—DON FRANK, DEMBERGH CONSTRUCTION

Some of Jackson Hole’s experts are looking outside the valley for new inspiration. “I was in Bozeman last fall,” recounts Larry Berlin, of Berlin Architects. “I
was so impressed with what I saw there on those back streets: lots of renovations and buildings done in such a way that they respected traditional architecture while adding some wonderful twists, with interesting colors and forms that all blended together really nicely. They had real soul.”

WRJ Design and JLF Architects

As home design here has continued to evolve, the ever-expanding collection of visions and voices has gelled into a vibrant, thoughtful, caring community. “Every project that we get, I am over the moon for the opportunity to work with people here,” says Nona Yehia, of GYDE Architects. “With the quality of this community, you consistently feel gratitude to have that conversation with people who care about design.”

Berlin Architects
LEFT Iris Designs
MIDDLE Forsyth + Brown Interior Design
MID-RIGHT Couloir Construction and A43 Architecture
RIGHT Colleen McFadden-Walls Interior Design