SD Ranch


Project Summary

SD Ranch


Residential – Custom Home


Aspen, Colorado


8,500 SF, 13.93 Acres

Interior Design


SD Ranch is situated on a working ranch with wide open pastures for livestock and other agricultural uses.  The scenery is beyond spectacular with gorgeous mountain views that are framed by the agrarian foreground, which is often filled with over 100 head of elk during the migratory seasons.  The owners, who are very philanthropic and art loving, really wanted to enhance the dialogue between the setting and architecture with a ranch legacy in mind.


The primary design goal was orienting the house to capture the massive mountain views while delicately respecting a large, mature stand of Aspen trees nearby that were requested to be protected.  This orientation set the stage for a dynamic entry sequence.  Guests arrive into the auto court where the view of the house is screened by the trees.  The journey to the front door is along a path that gently meanders through the Aspen trees, of which the views of the mountains and pasture begin to unfold. An equally important design objective was a desire to break up the mass of the architecture, reinforcing the more rambling and additive nature of structures that tend to representative of the agricultural properties in the area.  The size and proportion of the perceived independent buildings were massaged to reflect their own interior function and united with each other using innocuous one-story linking volumes that tend to recede.  The continuity of the materials is timeless and are joined effortlessly with contemporary details and expansive glass.


Scalability was crucial for the design team in developing the program and circulation flow.  The house needed to ‘live small’ when the owners were the only occupants and then it needed to easily ‘live large’ when family and guests are visiting. This was achieved by organizing the primary rooms and master suite along the circulation spine of the house to receive the big views and outdoor connection.  The secondary spaces were situated behind the spine and guest suites occupied the entire upper level which can be shut down when family or guests are not visiting.  Another key strategy was positioning the kitchen and breakfast nook between the great room and owners’ quarters to further enhance the ‘live small’ qualities.


One of the design challenges was to incorporate a large glassed enclosed wine room inside an intimate dining room experience for 10 seats, that can quickly morph into a dining table for 30 for big holiday celebrations.  This was accomplished by creating an asymmetrical dining room to allow for the wine program to tuck to the side.  That alignment allowed for symmetry with the wide opening between the dining room and great room.  When dinner parties for over 10 persons are needed, the dining table remains in place and receives additional temporary table sections that seamlessly flow into the great room.  Another design challenge was incorporating an elevator for aging family.  As the floor plan strategy evolved, the logical location of the elevator resulted in blocking an important window that frames the coveted Aspen trees.  The design team created a glass elevator enclosure that floats adjacent to the stairs and allows light and views to continue to be enjoyed.


Sustainability was considered by relocating and upgrading a large solar array away from the house and screened from view.  Also, the owners program resulted in a floor area that was substantially lower than the allowable floor area zoning rights.  This was achieved by carefully creating an efficient floor plan that shaped the program elements to minimize unnecessary circulation.   Additionally, the building was located on the site to incorporate elements of passive solar design.  The building was located along an east/ west axis to facilitate daylighting, and deep covered overhangs help to protect the interior from too much solar gain.  Approximately 60% of the total roof area is designed for solar readiness, in the event additional solar installation is desired, and the house itself is designed to meet a minimum HERS rating of 30.


To minimize the floor area and unneeded circulation, careful consideration was given to the location of each room and their respective flow into adjacent rooms.  An artist studio with separate bath was added on the north east side of the building to capture the best morning light and maintain preferred working light for the creation of paintings and ceramics.  This space is pre-programmed to become an additional bedroom if needed in future. A large catering pantry that doubles as a family office and workspace helps to buffer between the primary and secondary spaces, while allowing the catering activities to be removed from the primary spaces of the house.  Additionally, the pantry and art studio both open out to a private curated garden that provides fresh cut flowers for arrangements throughout the house.

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