On a windswept bluff high in the Rockies near Telluride in Southwestern Colorado is a remote and raw place. The air is thin and cool; the sun is bright and less hindered by the atmosphere than that found in most civilized human habitations. The site is spectacular in a timeless ancient way and provided the inspiration for the architect to build on the past. The history of the region and a stone outcrop on the site offer up clues to the solution Charles Cunniffe Architects realized for a unique and sophisticated client.
The rock found on the site had fractured off of the matrix of the sandstone through endless freeze-thaw cycles, gravity and the elements. The size of the rubble reminded the architect of the scale and coloration of the ancient masonry structures of the nearby and long ago Anasazi people. Indeed, the exposed cliff-like setting suggested the need for the strength and durability of the ancient building forms found in Anasazi structures.
The architect chose to develop this romantic notion suggested by the site, and build the new structure on a "found" ruin. An implied mythology grew out of the site. Naturally, the setting would humble any human being. Any new structure would have to perform strenuously to provide the needed shelter in both physical and emotional sense. Technically, physical comfort is readily achievable through contemporary materials and methods of building. The spiritual, aesthetic and emotional comfort required of a home however, necessitates the alchemy of responsibility, art and understanding.
It is no wonder that the owner who chose to build this 11,800 square foot residence in such a remote and inhospitable place would possess bravery and confidence in sufficient quantity to have become a success in life, and up to the challenge of inhabiting this uncompromising location.
The "prehistoric" rusticated plinth provides a transition from the primeval stone bed to the modern forms emerging from the earth. The copper cladding of the new forms connects to the elemental nature of the site and suggests technological development within the very location and palette of the ancient stone. Copper is indigenous to the region and provided legendary wealth to its early entrepreneurs. The transition in the patina of the copper over time will allow a dynamic and graceful aging process. Glass also is a natural complement to the mineral context of the site and a necessary requisite for capturing the extraordinary views for the benefit of the inhabitants.
The newer forms are crystalline and crisp, bravely cutting into to the incomparably blue of the high country sky, like the newest shards to break away from the rock.