2019 Legacy Award Winner: Architect Paul Bertelli

JLF Architects | Bozeman, Montana

Asked to cite a major influence in his decades-long architectural career, Paul Bertelli responds with two: abstract expressionist painter Clyfford Still, and his one-time boss and mentor, Jonathan Foote. He credits Still’s bold color juxtapositions for teaching him about contrast, and Foote for instilling a lifelong work ethic. “Jonathan was all about discipline and rigor and a commitment to the art form I never would have gotten anywhere else,” says Bertelli, who joined JLF Architects in 1979 and became a partner in 1987. “Under his guidance we always focused on the quality of the work and were never influenced by the fee structure.”

Referred to as “the ultimate antique,” the neglected creamery was carefully dismantled and authentically rebuilt stone by stone near Jackson, Wyoming.

With more than 200 projects under his belt, Bertelli claims it is a philosophy he continues to embrace while his personal Western design aesthetic has continued to evolve. “In my early career we had to convince homeowners we could make buildings out of things like old cabins that had survived 100 years. They were almost romantic replications,” recalls  Bertelli, who left the Boston Architectural Center to follow his sister to Bozeman and “never looked back.” “Over time, as people travel more and are increasingly educated about art and design we have to ask ourselves how to respond to these basic concepts in a more contemporary manner.”

"In my early career we had to convince homeowners we could make buildings out of things like old cabins that had survived 100 years."

One response has been the introduction of modern materials like steel and glass to add contrast to the firm’s hallmark use of wood and stacked stone. “An ongoing willingness to explore cultural shifts is important,” says Bertelli, who also counts sustainability and using elements that will last more than one lifetime as critical to his work. “We are in the business of building houses for families to pass down from generation to generation,” he adds. “The real key to long-term sustainability is creating a robust structure that will last 200 years.”


Joined JLF Architects in 1979.

Served as charette leader for the master planning of Lake Fish Hatchery, Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs Historic Districts in Yellowstone National Park.

Winner Mountain Living 2016 Home of the Year

Mentor and lecturer at Montana State University School of Architecture; trustee, Montana State University School of Architecture; founding trustee, Yellowstone Business Partnership; past board member, Museum of the Rockies; current advisory council member, Yellowstone Forever. 

The Work of Art: A JLF & Associates and Big-D Signature Collaboration

Learn more about our 2019 Legacy Awards

As seen in the May/June 2019 issue

Categories: Architects