mark horton/architecture (mh/a), san francisco

at once deeply practical and cleverly articulated, this house in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is designed to withstand earthquakes and the 12-foot snow loads that are standard in this part of the country. Mark Horton, AIA, set a three-story box on a hillside with its cedar-clad open face toward the sun, slanting the roofline upward to shed snow and capture solar rays. On the east, west, and north sides, a 12-foot-tall base of locally quarried Sierra White granite shoulders the snow load and holds the public spaces on top, so they’re always out of the snow.

Inside, Horton devised structural “trees” that allow for one large, open-span living area. It looks out on a three-story atrium that funnels light to the lower-level bedrooms and incorporates a 24-foot climbing wall. “I dislike weekend houses that are huge and have a bunch of separated rooms,” Horton says. “This is my idea of what a family ski house should be and what makes it different from others in Sugar Bowl.”

The judges applauded Horton’s reinterpretation of alpine building typology. “He ended up with a unique siding that references log homes,” one commented. “The vernacular is treated in a modern way.”

principal in charge / project architect: Mark Horton, AIA, MH/A 
general contractor: Dan Pelsinger, MPB, San Francisco
interior designer: Marnie Wright, Marnie Wright Design, San Francisco
project size: 5,000 square feet
sitesize: 5,700 square feet
construction cost: Withheld 
David Duncan Livingston, except where noted.