Saddle Road House Molded to Match Environs
PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Brown
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Architect: Buffalo Rixon of Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton
Interior Design Rhea Schwartz
Contractor Adam Elias/Elias Construction
They had just built a home in Washington, D.C., a few years earlier and were looking for a ready-to-move-in house here in the Valley. That was their intent, anyway, when Paul Martin Wolff and Rhea Schwartz were being shown around by agent Katherine Rixon during Christmas week 2005.
Wolff, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and sculptor, and Schwartz, a retired lawyer, were not interested in building yet another house.
Then Rixon showed them that snow-covered half-acre rectangle between Saddle Road and Saddle Lane, and they were smitten.
It was close to the Sun Valley ice rink, which delighted Schwartz, who founded and now chairs the International Skating Union’s adult skating program. And, like the Villager condo they’d bought a few years earlier, it was within easy walking and biking distance of Sun Valley’s new pavilion and Ketchum’s downtown.
“We had no idea the lot was even available—it looked like someone’s side lot,” says Wolff, who has been coming to Sun Valley since 1980. “By the time we left on New Year’s Day, we had a contract.”
Once they bought the lot, they faced a challenging task. They wanted a contemporary home that would blend in with a natural environment dominated by dramatic mountain peaks. But they wanted it to fit in to this neighborhood of more traditional homes.
They accomplished this with the help of architect Buffalo Rixon and contractor Adam Elias.
Together, they built a unique home with a mono-sloped roof, which thrusts into the sky, mimicking the mountains surrounding it. A combination of ledge stone and other horizontal planes evoke the desert.
“It’s an environment dominated by dramatic mountain forms, contrasting with high desert plain, sharp light contrast and seasonal climatic contrast,” says Rixon, a principal architect with Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton. “The intent was not to follow suit with the established mountain detailing but, rather, to relate contemporary design elements to the surrounding mountain environment.”
When it came time to build, the couple didn’t want river rock or logs—anything that could be identified as a typical Western or Sun Valley home. At the same time, they wanted something that would fit nicely into the surroundings.
Glass was a must to let natural sunlight in and allow them to gaze out on their environs. And they wanted lots of rooflines, similar to those they had seen on a home in the Adirondacks.
“We’re not ultramodern, but we are very modern,” Schwartz says. “We wanted something with clean lines and we wanted a modulated roof of different heights—something that would be well-integrated with the environment.”
They got everything they asked for, plus more.
The house itself is angled on the lot to offer them optimal views of Baldy, Penny Hill and Trail Creek Summit.
If the way in which it is angled makes it more visually interesting, the features that make up the 4,200-square-foot home only add to the intrigue.
Wolff’s bronze sculpture, “North Star,” greets visitors as they pull into the driveway.
It points upwards to the rooflines, which engage the imagination with interesting lines that seem to jut everywhere.
Galvalume metal fascia and roofing material strengthen the contrast between the horizontal and sloped plane and pick up the color of the sky.
Structural insulated panels, known as S.I.P.’s, placed over heavy glulam wood rafters and cedar soffits, give the roof planes a hint of traditional mountain post-and-beam detailing, while the steel columns and beams that support them exude a contemporary feel. >>>