Big Sky, Montana
Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Contractor: Robert Naert Construction, Inc.
Embedded in the foothills of Big Sky, Montana, with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, this new house was designed to rest on the existing foundation walls of an old building damaged beyond repair. Shaped by the surrounding landscape, the house seeks a low profile that follows the lines of the site’s inclining topography and complements it with a series of flat and gently sloping volumes and planes, creating a roofscape that echoes the mountain ridges in the distance. The entry vestibule links the different parts of the home. Kitchen, dining, bedrooms and laundry are consolidated in a one-story volume that opens up to a long south-facing terrace, with its extended roof overhang protecting the house from the elements. Open stairs connect to the gently rising two-story bar intersecting the base volume and terminate in a small observatory, which penetrates the sloping metal shed roof. Large openings – custom sliding glass doors, windows and pivot doors – frame the views of the alpine scenery. The house is clad in charred cedar boards, using a century-old finishing process that functions as a natural preservative and avoids the use of synthetic sealers or stains. The silver-black of the charred surfaces is contrasted by the smoothness and sheen of clear cedar and the corrugated texture of steel cladding designed to age gracefully over time.
AIA Wisconsin Design Award Winner: Merit Award
Jury Comment: “Starting from an existing foundation, this house elegantly sculpts intersecting volumes that open to the views of the surrounding landscape. The architecture of the home is artfully scaled and composed. The new house is carefully integrated into the hillside despite the challenges of using the existing foundation.”
Photos: John J. Macaulay