The owners purchased property with an existing home and detached garage near the top of a mountain in western Montana. The home is a low-slung ranch with a wrap around porch, barn wood siding, exotic wood flooring and built-ins. The existing garage was unattractive and not adequate for their vehicle storage demands and it was the first building seen at the end of their access drive. They soon raised the garage and on another area of the property begin planning a new “vehicle stable” to include 5 bays with a tall 16’ bay in the center for a large RV. With the existing ranch house as a starting point, I begin designing the vehicle stable and connector to the home in a way that payed homage to it. I maintained the rough materials composed to support a rustic feel through utilizing similar materials and introducing corrugated metal combinations on the exteriors. The vehicle stable is patterned after some of the agricultural building types in the region and adapted for its contemporary use. This building houses bays for cars, trucks, a large RV, equipment, a fly-fishing room and an upper level studio for jewelry making.

After the demolition of the original garage, the Owners hired me to design a building to fit onto the existing foundation. Fortunately, this location afforded some of the most breath-taking views in the area, this had to be a major determinant in the design. They needed a space for guest accommodation, an exercise and meditation space on the ground level and a complete living quarters on the upper level.

The rectangular building ‘footprint’ was divided in three zones that carried through both floor levels. The main entry is in the eastern third and contains the stair well and a viewing space with entry to the upper level living room and small deck over the main entry below. The central third is glazed on both facades to provide a continuous view from the access drive through the building toward a mountain vista beyond. This central zone houses the exercise studio and a meditation bay that extends beyond the extent of the existing foundation on the ground level and is fitted with 3 large picture windows filling the space with light and views. Above this a kitchen for the living quarters is designed between two window walls one facing the access drive and the other window wall, opposite, opens to a large partially covered deck providing an outdoor extension of the space with uninterrupted views toward the Bitterroot mountain range. The western third contains the guest quarters, bedroom and bath on the ground level with a master bedroom suite on the upper level.

Although the building appears to be symmetrical at first glance there are a few asymmetries designed to enliven the viewer’s experience. We designed a wraparound low slope roof between the two floor levels to ground the building and provide a brim like shelter for the lower level. The roof covering is discontinuous in one area to allow light access at a strategic point. Ground level porches are discontinuous under the continuous brim and are accessed by “waterfall steps” that draws one to the separate porches with access to specific spaces in the plan.

General Contractor- Waltman Builders, Stevensville, MT

Photography by Flori Engbrecht. Hamilton. MT