Image in modal.

Location: Telluride, Colorado
Project size: 2,800 square feet (including garage)

Program: Play House—the architect’s own secondary residence—accommodates family gatherings and offers a direct connection to the outdoors for seasonal recreation. The entry level (providing parking for two cars, fulfilling a local requirement) leads up to the main floor with living and dining areas, a library and workspaces, and bedrooms.

Design Solution: Surrounded by towering aspens and spruce trees, this modestly scaled dwelling echoes the historic homesteads scattered around Telluride and takes full advantage of magnificent views of the San Juan Mountains to the north and west. Within a singular enclosure, individual spaces capture natural light through varied ceiling heights and architectural elements—namely, miniature gable forms—that balance connectivity, playfulness, and intimacy throughout. The upper level cantilevers over the driveway to create a canopy, and basalt boulders unearthed during the construction process were incorporated into the landscape.

Conger Playhouse

Photo © Tom Rossiter

Structure and Materials: Lightly hued quartzite, quarried from Utah, is used at the base, while the upper level is clad in blackened Accoya with a gator finish. The wood has been charred using the traditional Japanese Shou Sugi Ban method, making it fire retardant, as well as resistant to insects and decay. Inside, walls are lined with Baltic birch plywood, with slate and white-oak floors underfoot.

Additional Information
Completion date: December 2021
Site size: .012 acres
Total construction cost: Withheld
Client/Owner: Jim Austin and Susan Conger-Austin

Conger Playhouse


Conger Playhouse


Conger Playhouse


Conger Playhouse


Conger Playhouse


Photos © Tom Rossiter

Conger Playhouse


Conger Playhouse


Images courtesy Susan Conger-Austin; click to enlarge


S. Conger Architects LLC
1521 N. North Park Ave
Chicago, Illinois
(312) 316-5241

Project team
Principal in charge: Susan Conger-Austin
Design team: Design team: Jacqueline Twardowski

Civil: Uncompahgre Engineering
Structural: Jesse Pekkala, PE
m/e/p: Burggraaf Associates

Millwork: Timeless Millwork
Landscape: Landscapes By Lance
HERS: Lotus Energy Solutions
AV/Security: Veritas AV Technologies

General Contractor
Fortenberry & Ricks

Tom Rossiter


Exterior Cladding
Masonry: Utah Quartzite, Aplin Masonry
Wood: Charred Accoya, Gator Finish, Delta Millworks

Metal: PAC-Clad Standing Seam Roof

Metal frame exterior, wood interior: Marvin Ultimate Narrow Frame

Skylights: Velux

Locksets: Baldwin, Ashley Norton
Pulls: Baldwin Reserve line, Ashley Norton

Interior Finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Baltic Birch plywood
Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore
Paneling: Baltic Birch Plywood
Solid surfacing: Cambria Newport Matte Quartz (countertops)
Floor and wall tile: Vermont Slate, Ann Sacks (bathroom tile walls)

Chairs: Herman Miller, Knoll
Tables: DWR
Upholstery: Knoll
Other furniture: DWR, Roger Crowley

Interior ambient lighting: Louis Poulsen, Pure Edge, Hay
Downlights: Tech Lighting, Element Series, interior
Tasklighting: Koncept
Exterior: Louis Poulsen, Juno
Dimming system: Lutron Radio RA2

Toilets: Kohler
Bathroom sinks: Kohler
Bathtub: Kohler
Fixtures: Dornbracht
Steam room: Mr. Steam