Architecture is an expression of values. ~ Norman Foster, British Architect, 1994 AIA Gold Medalist and 1999 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner
The values held in the Rocky Mountains and a Colorado family’s strong sense of community merged perfectly in the La Torretta Residence, a home which captures the breathtaking views offered by Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and features Zola’s Classic Clad and Classic Wood lines of windows and doors. We recently had the pleasure of speaking to the architect, Michael J. Olsen, AIA, of Michael J. Olsen Associates, about this project.
What is the essence of the La Torretta Residence? What makes it unique?
The La Torretta epitomizes the art of bringing together the home owners’ vision and the site context, and being able to blend the two in a creative way.
What inspired your design for this project?
The owner is Italian and desired to create the feeling of being in an Italian villa, right here in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. To achieve this, we incorporated a unique tower from which the residence gets its name. We also included covered porches to create an outdoor living experience. The house has a dramatic great room for entertaining. The role of the architect is to create visual composition, and I believe we created a masterpiece with the La Torretta. It’s many features combine to give the home an open feel with plenty of space, true to the architectural spirit of the traditional villa.
What were your main design challenges and how did you navigate them?
We had to figure out how to capture the stunning views in Steamboat Springs, while maintaining the covered porches. We also had to navigate the challenge of siting a home of this size within the site context (the home is on a curvy road). The layout of the home follows the curve of the road, expressing the villa characteristics through it open angled “U” shape. The La Torretta’s simple sight lines and traditional forms create an intentionally understated home.
How does the geography or location compliment or complicate this project? What, if any, environmental factors did you have to consider?
The views – this home is all about the ski-mountain as well as Emerald Mountain. These majestic views are captured by the design of the staircase entry way. It was important to the home owner that the house be very energy efficient. Also, we wanted to hit the sweet spot with natural light: carefully considering the places where natural light entered the home to minimize glare–an important consideration in sunny Colorado.
Which Zola window/door product lines helped you reach your design objectives?
The La Torretta used Zola Classic Clad and Classic Wood lines. One of this home’s central design features is the large curved window we installed to capture the view of the ski mountain. Zola offers European tilt and turn windows, which we played into the Italian villa concept very well. In addition, the owner wanted to have a safe residence, so we selected Zola’s security glass option, a break-proof laminated security glass.
What other innovative products contribute to the success of this project?
We incorporated top of the line lighting as well as control systems.
What are you working on since the La Torretta Residence? How has the project influenced and shaped your design theory on subsequent and future projects?
Our firm has been involved in numerous custom residential projects in the region. Working with this client on the La Torretta and helping him achieve his goals has reinforced our firm philosophy of bringing each client’s vision from idea to reality.
Architect. Micheal J.K. Olsen Associates. Michael J.K. Olsen Architects is passionate about designing architecture that enlivens the spirit. Founded in 1994, the firm recognizes that they have an opportunity and responsibility to preserve and enhance the very qualities that define place.
They accomplish this through “contextualism”; architecture that reflects not only the Client, but the forms, details, and regional qualities of the surrounding landscape. This “contextualism” results in a wide variety of design vernaculars, however; functional, concise, and practical design solutions are each weighed equally. The firm offers a full range of professional services with extensive experience in a wide variety of project types.
Builder. Amaron Folkestad General Contractors. Based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Amaron-Folkestad is a full service construction company. Their commitment to excellence extends through all phases of the construction process, from pre- construction consulting and construction management to general contracting. Amaron-Folkestad understands that the foundation of a successful project is in satisfying each individual client and their needs on every project. They offer affordability, quality and personal service.
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