Big Lake, Alaska

Situated on a 20-acre plot at the edge of a small town surrounded by small lakes and meadows, this 2,450-square-foot house is in an ideal place to take dogs for a run into the untouched wilderness of interior Alaska. The client is a professional dog musher and a four-time champion of the Iditarod, a 1,161-mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome.

Design concept and solution: The musher, and his family of four, desired a “not so big house” and a view of nearby Mt. McKinley—the highest peak in North America—from every room. The architect designed the house to meet his client’s needs, and made the house stand out in strong contrast to its environment. Organized in an L-shape with a common space centered on the view toward the Alaskan mountain range, with Mt. McKinley as a focal point, the 2,450-square-foot house is complimented by a large outdoor courtyard and an accessible roof terrace. The courtyard’s concrete wall and surfaces provide relief from the overwhelmingly expansive natural setting, creating a wind-sheltered space. The roof terrace offers uninterrupted views of the spectacular landscape and a show of the Northern Hemisphere sky at night with frequent displays of the Aurora Borealis. Materials and furnishings are simple and durable: local Alaskan yellow cedar cladding—which is an aromatic wood as well as being very durable—lines the interior of the main volume in the house. Charred wood siding for the exterior cladding was chosen for its low-maintenance qualities as well as a reference to the area’s frequent wildfires. Sustainable considerations include a heat recovery ventilation system, triple pane glazing, and double furring in the exterior walls.


Martin Buser and Kathy Chapoton

Completion Date
June 21 2010

Gross square footage
2450 sq.ft.

Mayer Sattler-Smith
1104 West 7th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99501
T: 907.277.7878
F: 907.277.7899

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Klaus Mayer, International Associate AIA,
Petra Sattler-Smith, AIA

Jim Loftus, PDC Engineers

General contractor

Kevin G. Smith Photography



Structural system
Concrete foundation, wood framing with CMU shear walls

Exterior cladding
Concrete: CMU polished block by Anchorage Sand and Gravel

Wood: Custom charred wood by G.C.

Sarnafil Epdm

Dynamic Windows

Marvin Windows

Glass: Triple Pane, Low E 2

Entrances:  Dynamic windows and doors

Wood doors: Custom Alaskan yellow cedar


Pulls: Haefele

Cabinet hardware: Haefele

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Custom Alaskan yellow cedar

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Alaska pinecraft inc.

Wallcoverings: Custom Alaskan yellow cedar

Floor and wall tile: 
Carter glass mosaic wall tile

Custom exposed concrete floors

Fixed seating:
Custom concrete bench

Chairs: artek

Tables: Custom by Q.C.

Upholstery: Kasala Seattle

Interior ambient lighting: LED Custom by Q.C.


Task lighting: Greenlights Concepts

Porcher, Chipperfield Pedestal

Geberit Wall Hung Toilet

Stark 3 toilet

Add any additional building components or special equipmentthat made a significant contribution to this project:
Rumford fireplace