A Tower Above

The unexpected design feature that adds drama and stature to your mountain home
Whitefish Elk Highlands Residence

Photos courtesy of Stillwater Architecture

Residential mountain architecture is, in general, a very horizontal building type. Incorporating a tower can provide a vertical element to the design—which helps anchor the home or give a sense of entry or import to a specific part of the residence. 

A tower, in this context, can be anything from a two-story library to an entrance foyer or whatever you can imagine. We tend to use it as a focal point for the house, and try to incorporate them whenever it fits the clients’ desires. They are popular because they offer drama both on the exterior and interior of a home.

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When most people think of towers, they picture a medieval castle—and as such, many architects have used them to give a more weighted feel to stone buildings, and it has ended up being a caricature element in past architectural styles. 

Rustic homes tend to have very heavy, weighted towers—often covered in stone. In our designs, we try as hard as we can to accentuate the vertical with the windows, and will often add multiple tiers of roofs to give a sense of rhythm as your eye moves up the element. 


Modern homes tend to have a much lighter feel to them. The materials aren’t as heavy, more glass is incorporated, and the finishes usually have a more polished or refined look.

We always recommend towers as accents to create a focal point, and to show what is important to you. A tower can visually establish the entrance to your home, and create a dramatic feel as you walk in—while a two-story library can tell the world that reading is your passion.

Whitefish Lake Remodel Exterior 3

Robert L. Gilbert, AIA  and Michael Donohue, NCARB are principal architects and owners of Stillwater Architecture, an award-winning lakefront and mountain architecture firm with office locations in Boulder, Chicago and Big Sky. View their profile or contact Michael at 312-655-0940. 

Content for this article provided by Stillwater Architecture.

Categories: Native Content, Rustic Homes