At the edge of a nature preserve, the Independence Pass Residence has sweeping views across an alpine meadow to the Roaring Fork River and the Rocky Mountains beyond.
The client is an active couple with older children who sought a family home in Aspen, Colorado where they have vacationed for over 25 years. They purchased an existing home overlooking the Nature Conservancy’s North Star Preserve, a 175-acre tract of open space located in Pitkin County on the Roaring Fork River. Pitkin County manages the preserve as a wildlife corridor and environmental education site. The owners chose the property not only for its unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains and the preserve, but also for its easy proximity to the town of Aspen, less than 1.5 miles away via a public trail. The site has existing groves of conifers and native aspen to the north, which transition to a south-facing alpine meadow in the preserve.
When the client learned the existing home on the property had unacceptable levels of radon gas, estimated to cause thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year, their only option was to demolish the original house and replace it.
At the end of a forested drive one discovers the new house stretched between two knolls. A series of textured Vals quartzite walls extend into the landscape on either side and give weight to the lower level. The upper volume is a glass and wood pavilion with a roof that floats on slender stainless steel columns.
A wall of black-stained cedar and a horizontal light slot mark the main entry and extend through the house. A cantilevered wood stair leads to the upper-level living room, dining room, and kitchen that occupy the center of the linear floor plan. An intimate reading alcove that runs along the length of the living room is lined with Douglas fir panels and stainless steel shelves for display of the owners’ photography collection. Opposite the linear alcove, sliding panels of glass blur the boundary between interior and exterior and open to an outdoor deck facing the nature preserve that extends to the foothills of the Rockies.
The master bedroom suite is on the west side of the second story, and at the other end is a family room and stone courtyard with an outdoor fireplace where the family gathers. A tapered roof overhang extends the length of the house, shielding the living spaces from the arc of the sun. A sky-lit fireplace clad in Vals quartzite anchors the house.
Ground-level spaces include three bedrooms with individual baths, a guest suite, mudroom, and exercise room. In contrast to the delicate formality of the entry stair, a bold red zigzag steel stair slips along the outside stone edge of the family room and connects all levels of the house for everyday use.
Its position on the site, linear shape, and the way glass, steel, and quartzite are used give great strength to this mountain home.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is noted for elegant and humane design, ranging from modest houses to large academic, civic, cultural, commercial, and corporate buildings. Our principals and staff are deeply committed to active collaboration with our clients, emphasizing thorough research and analysis of each situation’s particular human, technical, and economic circumstances. The result is exceptional architecture that resonates within its place. Since 1965, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has received more than 625 regional, national, and international design awards, including three Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). We are also the recipients of the AIA Architecture Firm Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon an architectural practice by the Institute. In addition, our founding principal, Peter Bohlin, was awarded the AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor an individual American architect can receive.