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New Generation of Design in Aspen

Linda Hayes | September 3, 2019 | Home & Real Estate

Aspen architecture evolves through a new generational lens.

Architects do far more than shape the physical nature of a place—they reflect its very heart and soul. As has been the case since Aspen’s early days—when influential architects Herbert Bayer, Fritz Benedict and others left their mark—the landscape of town, and its surrounding areas, is evolving through a new demographic perspective. Here, a half-dozen creatives share their views on elements of their profession.


Maura Trumble photo by Olive & West Photography; styling by Elizabeth Dean Boutique; jewelry by Denev Designs

Maura Trumble, AIA, Associate, CCY Architects in Basalt

On inspiration “There’s so much great design in nature, and we are fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing natural environment. The valley is a cultural center as well, with so many artists. I’m a big fan of connecting with that community to touch base with an entirely different set of skills.”

On constraints “Constraints of a project create opportunities to be successful and make you respond to things in a different way. Internal dialogues, critiques and looking at projects through different lenses informs and improves the solution.”

On a favorite project “The Lost Forest, Snowmass’ newest on-mountain experience, and collaborating with Aspen Skiing Company and Bonsai Design, the zip-line designer, to create this unique and authentic experience on the mountain. We got to create what we call Lost Forest Follies, a series of pavilions and a zip-line tower designed to reinterpret the surrounding forest.”


Joseph Spears

Joseph Spears, AIA, Founder, S2 Architects in Aspen

On sophisticated space “Modern, contemporary and even mountain chalet can be sophisticated if it’s well-thought-about, developed to a high degree and there’s a determination to get it perfect. A lot of people think of modern and contemporary architecture as really simple, but it’s very technical to pull off—details and alignments are extremely important and evident.”

On integrating landscape “We try to pull lines from the architecture into the landscape, for instance, with small retaining walls, patios, planting areas, views and paths; or link the plan directly outside by opening big walls or adding platforms on second levels that cantilever as decks.”

On emotion “Architecture should ring out emotion. Whether you enter a smaller, intimate space, then climb up into grandly lit space with lots of glass and natural light; or create little circulation paths where you don’t see the view right away, but know it’s there—and the reveal is a gasper.”


Flynn S. Stewart-Severy

Flynn S. Stewart-Severy, AIA, NCARB, Principal Architect, F&M Architects in Snowmass

On his background as a builder “Construction and architecture involve complementary skills. Working in construction on historic properties on the East Coast gave me great insight into that field, from pouring concrete to framing up walls and roofing. It helps with relationships with contractors.”

On materials “Architects often talk about materials in a color and textural way. But there’s another conversation to have about how things go together and, most importantly, breathe. You can marry modern energy efficiency with historic materials in a cohesive relationship.”

On a recent project “Café V in Viceroy Snowmass was intended to help increase vitality in the lobby and had a dual purpose as a coffee bar and real estate office for the hotel. We paired a customized, cantilevered, display case for pastries, complemented with a floating, aeronautically engineered walnut bench, so that they resembled valuable pieces of jewelry.”


Alabama native Clark is a painter, woodworker and calligrapher, in addition to being an architect. Photo by Derek Skalko

Ashley Clark, AIA, Project Architect, Studio B in Aspen

On confidence “At Auburn University’s Rural Studio, I worked with a team on an adaptive reuse of an abandoned bank building into a library. We did everything—fundraising, complete design. As a young, petite woman in the profession, the experience allowed me to navigate a construction site and interact with industry professionals with confidence.”

On composition “It’s not something that can really be taught, especially for modern architecture; you to have an eye and feel and understand balance. Here, we might do 20 iterations of an elevation. It’s the art of us drawing, putting it up on the wall and seeing a clear direction.”

On a favorite project “For a home on a wedge-shaped lot on the Aspen Golf Course, it was important to the client to have privacy. We decided on a V-shape plan that splayed the house apart and opened windows to a central courtyard. It created a really interesting interplay between the columns that created the V.”


Bryan May recently started his own firm and is working on a residential proejct in the West End. Photo by Alexis Ahrling

Bryan May, AIA, NCARB, Principal and Founder, Bryan May Architecture in Aspen

On starting his own firm “It was always on my mind. People were talking to me and encouraging me to take the leap, and there was a residential project for a family relocating to Aspen that gave me a good solid start. It was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to; it’s the type of home that architects dream of designing.”

On listening “Architecture for so many years has been approached from a fairly top-down perspective, but the process is more interesting, rewarding and compelling if you open the dialogue, bringing everyone to the table and listening to their perspective. It’s the only way to truly innovate.”

On his focus “I thought I would end up getting a lot more residential work based on past projects, and that’s still my primary focus. But I’m quickly starting to cross over to some corporate, industrial and cultural work. It’s exciting what’s come my way.”


Jane Lanter and Ryan Vugsteen stand near Erwin Wurm's piece "Mutter," which was part of a landscape installation in a private garden. Photo by Marc Montoya

Ryan Vugsteen, Principal, and Jane Lanter, Associate, Lift Studio Landscape in Aspen

On inspiration RV: “Our inspiration begins with thoughtful dialogue and collaboration with our client and design team. We then study the site’s unique conditions to understand the essence of the land and its architecture. From this, we develop a narrative that describes how the phenomena of the place should fold into its intended uses.”

On process RV: “We begin by looking at a new project individually before discussing potential design solutions together. We then analyze and critique each other’s work, identify common themes, and arrive at a cohesive framework from which to develop design options for the client.”

On a favorite project RV: “We have worked for over 10 years with a unique and gracious client who has the most amazing outdoor sculpture collection. The project started as a landscape remodel, and over the years, we have collaborated with the client to place new sculpture and design settings within the framework of the garden.”


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