James Merrell Architects P.C.

James Merrell Architects P.C.

Sag Harbor



Rocky Mountain ski house architecture typically refers to the pitched-roof chalet. This traditional approach doesn’t take full advantage of modern building technologies.

As architects practicing on the East End of Long Island, we are familiar with designing for our own harsh environment.  However, when taking on a project in another climate, our first objective is to consult with local professionals about their specific building conditions.  Together we pursued the design and development of an innovative high-performance building envelope composed to withstand the conditions of this high altitude site.  These discoveries became our design palette.

Hot rolled steel siding is a fire‐proof material that requires low maintenance in harsh conditions.  Double layers of foil in the wall section reflect infrared radiation, drastically improving energy performance.  Reflective foil roller shades paired with low-E glazing also mitigate heat loss and heat gain from the large window walls. 

We are convinced that this approach is the new prototype for high desert architecture.

Situated on a mountainside, one approaches the house from the lowest point on the site.  The entry level of the house is a board-formed concrete extension of the earth.  Placed on top is a steel and glass enclosure with views above the tree line.  The minimal interior contrasts the dark exterior shell and focuses the visitor’s attention towards the landscape.

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Status: Built
Location: Sun Valley, ID, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Interiors: Ellen Hanson Design
Landscape: LaGuardia Design Group
Builder: Dennis Kavanagh Construction