Connecting People With Nature Through Architecture

A new monograph showcases architecture firm CCY's guiding principle
By The Book Ext Open

Their family’s multi-generational retreat near Morgedal, Norway, inspired this home. Vertical weathered-wood siding on the building’s skin allows filtered light and gives the home a sculptural quality. | Photography by Draper White

Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, framed by a row of the state’s famed fourteeners and bisected by the powerful Roaring Fork River, is home to CCY.

The Basalt-based architectural firm, founded in 1971, is celebrating its 50th year. In the past half-century, the firm has expanded from just four architects to 40 employees—but the firm’s collaborative method of working out solutions to architectural challenges remains the same.

By The Book Intro

The landscape of the American West is diverse and powerful. The projects in the book Connection: CCY Architects all began with a reverence of place. Expansive views of distant mountains are balanced with purposefully intimate spaces, creating pause and allowing the setting to be experienced in a new way. | Photo courtesy of CCY Architects/Monacelli Press

We caught up with early principals John Cottle and Rich Carr, and two of the firm’s more recent principals, Todd Kennedy and Alex Klumb, in CCY’s contemporary open-plan offices. There are no private offices—even for the partners. “We work side by side, partners and interns alike,” says Carr. “We gather the opinions of others in the office … bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other.”

By The Book Steel Building

The homeowners purchased an 1880s Victorian because of its proximity to the Aspen Music Festival site. The perforated aluminum siding (inspired by player-piano rolls) allows filtered light during the day. At night, the home glows like a lantern.

Although most of the firm’s residential and commercial projects are in the Rocky Mountain West, they work all over the U.S. and world, including China, Mexico and the Caribbean. Ten of CCY’s award-winning residential projects are showcased in Connection: CCY Architects, a 300-plus-pages coffee table book.

By The Book Book Page Drawing

The steep, mountainous terrain informed the design of this home. The remote site sits at the bottom of a deep canyon. The owners have an affinity for the art of Telluride photographer Lindsay Ross, whose work will hang in their finished home. | Photo courtesy of CCY Architects/Monacelli Press

The book includes two chapters on the firm’s design approach, with sketches and architectural drawings that enhance the beautiful photography ($60, Monacelli Press).

By The Book Stone Elevation

Stone, steel, glass and wood are the defining elements of this thoroughly modern home, designed specifically to preserve the beautiful, mature aspen grove on the site. A gable roof speaks to one of the community’s more traditional design requirements.

“Design enhances or creates place. We are good listeners, so for a residence in a natural landscape, for instance, we listen to our clients and to the natural aspects of the site.”

By The Book Dine

The homeowners wanted a sophisticated, single-level home that would allow them to enjoy indoor-outdoor living. The plan features separate pavilions that follow the site’s curving topography.

How would you describe the interaction between design and place?

Rich Carr: Design enhances or creates place. We are good listeners, so for a residence in a natural landscape, for instance, we listen to our clients and to the natural aspects of the site.

Alex Klumb: Each solution is 100-percent unique be- cause it is so thoroughly informed by the place. The Aperture house (page 182) was challenging because the site was steep with a massive (20-foot-high) boulder sitting in the middle of the building envelope. (Spoiler alert: The boulder was incorporated into the design of the home.)

By The Book Book Page Topo

LEFT: The building site is a meadow that was part of a working ranch. Below it, a small river can be heard but not seen. The owners wanted the house to appear as small as possible. RIGHT: The ranch office, seen from the road. | Photo courtesy of CCY Architects/Monacelli Press

Your book talks about “interviewing the site.” Could you describe this process? 

Todd Kennedy: It comes down to spending time on the property and really digging deep … to see how the land changes from day to day and from season to season … where the sun comes up in the morning [and] how it might light up a hillside in the evening.

John Cottle: Just to add a little—when we were designing the Meadow house (page 128), the architectural solution was not readily apparent. There were big views, but as we walked the land, we could hear a nearby river. It was a magical moment and helped us create a truly unique solution.

By The Book Portrait

(BACK ROW): Rich Carr, Alex Klumb. (FRONT ROW):Todd Kennedy, John Cottle. | Photo courtesy of CCY Architects/Monacelli Press

What is CCY’s vision for the future?

John Cottle: We will continue to raise the bar. Our firm had a focus on sustainability even back in the 1970s. Now, it is even more important to embrace smart design that is energy efficient, sustainable and generational … enriching, durable and responsible homes that can be handed down to the children and grandchildren.

Categories: Architects