2022

MCHAP

Summit Horizon Neighborhood

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

Eden, United States

February 2019

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Brian MacKay-Lyons

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Duncan Patterson, Jennifer Esposito, Mountain Resort Builders, Dynamic Structures, Haley Duffin & Megan Rider for Powder Mountain

CLIENT

Powder Mountain

PHOTOGRAPHER

Younes Bounhar

OBJECTIVE

Our starting point for the design of Horizon was the Powder Mountain tradition of rallying to watch the sunset: a gesture of togetherness and an acknowledgment of the natural beauty of the Wasatch Mountains. We sought to shun ostentation and scale back architectural excess. Vernacular building traditions embrace both unity and variety by employment type and variation within a system. We used a material palette derived from the simple cedar-clad barns in the Eden Valley below Powder Mountain. Restrained cedar-shingled roofs, vertical shiplap cedar walls, aluminum-clad wooden windows, and cedar interiors establish a calming, monolithic look which is simultaneously contemporary and timeless, modest and monumental. The sculptural effect complements, rather than fights, the beauty of the mountain vistas. The challenge of building on the Mountain required innovative design which respected the rugged environment and short building season. Horizon Neighborhood embraces these limitations. Steel stilt foundations are intended to allow the cabins to sit well above the deep snow and support them from powerful winds. As the buildings step up the steep mountainside, each cabin favors southwest sunset views through the Ogden Pass to the Great Salt Lake Basin. The cabins are positioned to maximize views while mitigating the sunlight of Utah’s high desert ranges. These design approaches work with the local climatic patterns and forces, rather than attempting to combat them, resulting in buildings which are climate responsive, sustainable, and harmonious with the Mountain.

CONTEXT

Horizon is the first pre-designed neighborhood to be built at 9,000 feet elevation on Powder Mountain, Utah. It consists of 30 cabins ranging in size from 1,000- 3,000 square feet, along with a series of strategically placed garages, and a communal lodge called the ‘Pioneer Cabin’ for the use of the homeowners. Buyers choose from four typologies, which either follow the contours like mountain goats, or are cross-grain, projecting off the mountainside like extreme skiers. The cabins are then customized for each owner. The theme and variation strategy, in combination with the dramatic topography, results in a neighborhood that has a powerful sense of both unity and variety. Commissioned as a home base for Summit Series, an ambitious speaker program that attracts a community of innovators and social impact investors from a broad range of fields, this new village is an architectural expression of Summit’s values: community building, climate responsiveness and land stewardship. This isn’t another ski resort, but rather a planned community for entrepreneurs and creatives working together to address global challenges.

PERFORMANCE

The cabins are aggregated around courtyards in a way that maximizes a sense of both community and privacy to foster chance meetings and social interactions. The experience of passing from garages, between units, and under bridges is like a game of ‘Snakes and Ladders.’ The siting of the buildings and bridges was also carefully organized to minimize views into neighboring units, while framing unobstructed, southwest sunset views. Privacy between the closely sited homes is maintained by alternating solid walls and generous windows and minimizing views from social to private spaces within. The modest cabins stand in contrast to the excessive architecture that is now typical of resorts in the Mountain West. Each cabin consists of a cedar-shingled roof and vertical shiplap cedar walls inspired by the barns of the Eden valley below. Aluminum-clad wood windows and cedar interiors complete the monolithic sculptural effect called ‘Heritage Modern’ by the clients. The cabins are accessed on the second floor via steel bridges due to the extremely high annual snowfall that gives Powder Mountain its name. Climate responsiveness begins with passive solar orientation, combined with thermal mass of concrete floors and hydronic in-floor heating. The steel stilts make the buildings light on the fragile high desert landscape. A series of protected courtyards create micro-climates in an otherwise open, windswept landscape. The dense neighborhood will allow the majority of Powder Mountain’s 11,500 acres to remain undeveloped and conserved for future generations.