Combining Contemporary Artistry and Timeless Design

By Laura Jackson

Modern mountain architecture today is all about pushing both boundaries and expectations. It’s also about blending a variety of architectural styles and traditions to incorporate the best of each. In Park City, the trend towards more modern contemporary styling has been beautifully balanced by staying true to a philosophy that embraces the beauty of our mountain location.

Jack Thomas Associates— Creating Outdoor Connections

77aWith a family history in Park City that can be traced back 125 years to the days when his great grandfather and great uncle were miners in the Silver King Mine, and his grandmother was a Park City schoolteacher, architect Jack Thomas has seen many different architectural styles evolve around town. But for Parkites, maintaining the integrity and beauty of our breathtaking mountain views
has remained constant. Thomas explains, “We pride ourselves in pinpointing the intersection where natural beauty and man-made design combine into stunning architectural elegance and functionality.”
One of Thomas’ recent designs includes a stunning Deer Valley home owned by Elke and Dennis Levine. Their home presents a spectacular example of spotlighting the beauty of their surroundings within the comfort of a luxurious contemporary style. Its warm and inviting atmosphere welcomes visitors with wide open views from every angle, framed by enormous windows. There’s even a series of windows almost three stories high next to a grand open staircase featuring an interesting combination of wood stairs and steel handrails all surrounded by glass.

77bIn the kitchen, rustic wood beams are beautifully contrasted with clean, contemporary lines and smooth white marble surfaces. “Along with the home’s beauty and comforts, it also employs superinsulation to significantly reduce heating needs through Park City winters,” said Thomas.

Cozy pass through fireplaces connect the inside to outdoor decks adding to the feeling of a seamless link to the outdoors. Elke explains, “For us it was all about bringing the outdoors in. We loved the clean lines of the contemporary look and wanted to make the most of our views.” It was also very important to the Levines to have accessible outdoor areas throughout the year, so their design includes incredible outdoor decks and patios emerging from multiple areas of their home.

Jaffa Group—Discovering the Essence of Design

77cBelieving that “A home is not where you live, but how you live,” Jaffa Group has long understood that one of the most important aspects of producing great modern architecture is editing. Scott Jaffa explains that part of the appeal and growing popularity of the modern mountain style is in its simplicity, “People are trending to much simpler detailing and less busy elements that can often be distracting from the essence of the design. The home needs to be simple, but elegant, and introducing the right materials and finishes is key to a great project.”

Canting the home seven degrees off the property lines to make the absolute most of its fabulous mountain views was just the start to Jaffa’s spectacular home in Park Meadows. As you enter its dramatic, yet comfortable and open great room, your eyes are immediately drawn to the 22-foot wide, floor to ceiling glass Nano doors. Leading to a grand lawn at the back of the home, these fully retractable doors are definitely showstoppers, creating the feeling of filling the entire home with the natural beauty of its mountain setting. These fabulous doors, as well as the expansive windows throughout the home, truly function as works of art showcasing its exterior spaces.

77d“Making modern architecture feel warm and inviting is a true blend and mix of natural and manmade materials,” said Jaffa.

The use of steel sunshades on the exterior in combination with organic stone, as well as many other unique combinations of materials and textures within the home, only adds to the home’s dynamic character. And as you leave and view this captivating home from a distance, its angled rooflines reassuringly mimic the mountains.

77eUpwall Design Architects—Pioneering Design Experiences

Although creating more contemporary designs continues to be a growing focus in today’s market, Upwall explains, “We’re still able to relate to more traditional homes within a neighborhood by using the same vocabulary of materials. We can still ‘speak’ with stone, wood and glass. By simply making a cleaner statement, where glass becomes a more dominant element, we’re bringing the incredible views into the home.”

“In mountain contemporary design, we look for a more simple and streamlined roof design. Instead of complicated gables, we clean up the roofline and get out of the way of the view, giving the amazing landscape the priority in the experience of the space it deserves,” says Upwall.

One design recently spotlighted in Park City’s Showcase of Homes provides a perfect example of taking full advantage of jaw-dropping panoramic views in The Colony. Upwall describes how he was able to set up a sequence of exposures to the homeowners’ most coveted views. As you enter the home, you experience a breathtaking shot of the mountains through a majestic curved window that seamlessly bends the view around you. Your secondary view begins as the grand stone fireplace anchors the room and pulls your eye back around to the other side. Finally, by stealing a view through the library adjacent to the great room, you can see to the opposite side of the home meaning you are actually able to see a full 180 degrees through both sides of the same incredible mountain-filled space.

77fVertical circulation is not a subject Michael Upwall takes lightly. His thinking is that one should never feel like taking a staircase to another level is an obligation, but rather an experience. This home’s curved, floating staircase ascends to a spacious sitting area overlooking the great room, and then descends and opens up to incredible downvalley views; all the while you are gracefully surrounded by an engaging wall of windows and light.

“With glass on three sides, and stone on the other, the home’s glass elevator provides another opportunity to break down the barrier between the interior and exterior,” explains Upwall. You can even watch the gears move as the cab goes up and down, adding an exciting element of movement and energy to the home.

Innovation, intrigue and excellence are all hallmarks of these three outstanding architects. Their unwavering commitment to spotlighting the beauty of our mountain landscape will ensure their designs remain a treasure to our community for years to come.

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