Category Archives: 1. Planning and Design

Finding a Western Modern Architect

I searched far and wide for architects who both shared my aesthetic values and who did interesting, highly site specific, modern western architecture. I looked at the work of maybe 50 residential architects throughout the Rocky Mountain West. I especially liked the work of Carney Logan Burke Architects out of Jackson, WY. Even better, I really liked the houses the architects at CLB had designed and built for themselves. The two architects at Carney who have really spearheaded my project are Eric Logan and Andy Ankeny, outstanding guys, with a lot of talent. Even more unusual is that they are good with schedules and did not shy away from the highly aggressive budgetary goals for my project.

Here is some more of their work:

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Why Most Houses in Park City Look The Same

Many of the custom homes in Park City look kind of the same to me. One reason for this is the highly restrictive covenants that most homeowners’ associations have adopted. Almost all new construction in Park City (and in the West generally) is in a subdivision, which usually has a homeowners’ association. In Park City, during the boom period of 2000-2010, subdivisions sprang up like weeds. Each developer basically copied-and-pasted the CC&Rs of some other subdivision (CC&R = codes, covenants, and restrictions). These CC&Rs are really detailed and often highly restrictive. For example, they specify exactly what roofing materials may be used, the range of roof pitches that are allowed, and explicitly outlaw certain design elements. Combine these CC&Rs with fairly homogeneous suburban tastes, and a few stylistic trends, and you end up with houses that could be cousins if not siblings. Here’s an example.

More specifically, the archetypal Park City house has these elements:

  • 4′ high stone veneer at the base (certain amount of stone required in CC&Rs),
  • staggered facade with gables over each protrusion (CC&Rs do not allow uninterrupted walls),
  • complex roofs, with fairly shallow pitch, and lots of valleys (maximum height restrictions, and maximum uninterrupted ridge lengths),
  • some combination of stucco, board-and-batten, or shingle siding above the stone base (CC&Rs),
  • three garages (the American way),
  • single-level living (but usually with a big lower level as a bonus…why climb stairs?),
  • arch-topped windows (current style trend),
  • timber or log columns (current style trend).

Don’t get me wrong. These are very nice houses. They are comfortable, roomy, and easy to live in. But, I’m a modernist and like to think of myself as an iconoclast. I also wanted to build an affordable house with lots of light, very little maintenance, excellent snow handling capabilities, and nice views. I did not believe the standard Park City style was going to deliver on those needs.

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