Situated on 200 acres along the north fork of the Gunnison River, this ranch complex was first homesteaded in 1882. By the 1990s the original ranch house, except for one small log cabin, had been replaced with a mobile home, and the ranch lands and remaining agricultural buildings had fallen into poor condition. In 2005, the ranch changed ownership and plans were made for the restoration of both the structures and the land, and for the building of a new 2,500-square-foot house.
Design concept and solution: From the onset of the project, the clients and architects were committed to building in a modern vocabulary that was respectful of the traditional, agricultural construction vernacular of the area and to preserving the remaining historic farm buildings and incorporating them into the home plan. The plan is organized around a simple open rectangular frame with a rectangular enclosure. The enclosure does not sit directly within the boundaries of the frame; it is partially shifted out of the rectangle. This basic concept—of separation of structure and envelope—sets up the primary spaces of the house. On the western side, the shift results in a generous covered patio. The house is entered under this large roof. On the east side the volume of the envelope moves outside the structural frame and creates a long internal gallery that organizes the plan from the inside. All the main rooms of the house are connected to this gallery space. The living room was made from the existing log cabin. This is a traditional western room with dark wooden finishes within. The cabin is detached from the house and is accessed by going out under the protective roof. The plan also includes a bathhouse, garage, work studio, and pavilion all made from the reconstructed and relocated existing farm structures. The house is well insulated, and sited and constructed to minimize heat gain in the summer. An active solar array on the south roof of the garage building uses a series of glass tubes with reflective coatings on the underside that heat a transfer medium to high temperatures. A heat exchanger picks up the heat and loads it to the domestic system. In the first summer of use, the 5-by-10-foot solar array was easily providing all the domestic hot water used. It is also expected to contribute a minimum of 20 percent of the winter heating needs.