A Modern House Accentuates a Sensational Wyoming Landscape

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By Lucy Wang
An earth-sheltered and earthquake-resistant home is built to stand the test of time in an extraordinary Wyoming landscape.

For the owners of the Jackson Residence—a retired couple with grown children—the completion of their contemporary rural home in Jackson, Wyoming, has been a long time coming. 

Set amidst a dramatic landscape at the crest of the Gros Ventre Butte, the couple acquired the sloped plot many years ago, but decided to wait until retirement before approaching Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to design and build their long-awaited forever abode.

Set at an elevation of 6,700 feet, the home overlooks extraordinary views of the Snake River Valley and the Teton Mountain Range.

Set at an elevation of 6,700 feet, the home overlooks extraordinary views of the Snake River Valley and the Teton Mountain Range.

In deference to the spectacular landscape, the architects have let the site shape the architectural design, which adopts a modern appearance in an intentional departure from the rustic mountain vernacular. 

To protect panoramic views of the Teton Mountain Range beyond and reduce the 9,860-square-foot home’s visual footprint, the architects have inserted the two-story building into the hillside and further softened its appearance with planted roofs.

To meld the building with the landscape, the architects expanded the aspen grove around the southern approach to the structure.

To meld the building with the landscape, the architects expanded the aspen grove around the southern approach to the structure.

The home is accessed via a private road that gently moves westward through a sagebrush meadow and an aspen tree grove that transitions to an entry court framed by dense, smooth-formed concrete walls.

A break in the concrete facade reveals the front entrance, which is marked by a thin steel canopy and two chimneys.

A break in the concrete facade reveals the front entrance, which is marked by a thin steel canopy and two chimneys.

The drama of the landscape is immediately captured in the interior, where a strong axial layout and full-height glazing reinforce views and blur the boundary between indoors and out. 

The east-west axis passes through the entry foyer and culminates in a cantilevered glass study.

The east-west axis passes through the entry foyer and culminates in a cantilevered glass study.

Starting from the front door in the east, the first axis passes through a sky-lit space between two concrete fireplaces and culminates to a cantilevered glazed study with breathtaking western views of the valley. 

The thin pillars and glass walls in the cantilevered study are evocative of the clean lines found in Apple stores, many of which have also been designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

The thin pillars and glass walls in the cantilevered study are evocative of the clean lines found in Apple stores, many of which have also been designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

The second axis—which runs north-south in parallel to the slope of the butte topography—is first articulated in the south with a linear pool of water that runs alongside the building. It is translated into a textural layer of stone flooring inside the home, then transitioned to a floating staircase leading to the lower level. It finally finishes outdoors in the same stone flooring, on axis with the peaks of the Grand Tetons.

Located between the courtyard and the home, the shallow linear pool on the north-south axis is reflected by mirrored-finish panels.

Located between the courtyard and the home, the shallow linear pool on the north-south axis is reflected by mirrored-finish panels.

Mirrored panels clad the ceiling above this textured axis—from the outdoor water feature to the interior stone paving—to emphasize the axis and reflect the moment of sunlight, water, and people.

Mirrored panels clad the ceiling above this textured axis—from the outdoor water feature to the interior stone paving—to emphasize the axis and reflect the moment of sunlight, water, and people.

The Jackson Residence was envisioned not only as a forever home, but also as a home that would live on in the family for generations. To meet the clients’ desires for a minimal maintenance home, the architects wrapped the facade in a combination of cast-in-place concrete, Western Red Cedar siding and zinc panels—durable materials that age well and protect the home against extreme seasonal weather.

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Since the home is located in a Class D Seismic Zone, the architects have designed the home beyond code-required structural standards with concrete foundations, steel columns, and composite decking.

Since the home is located in a Class D Seismic Zone, the architects have designed the home beyond code-required structural standards with concrete foundations, steel columns, and composite decking.

Embedded into the slope, the earth-sheltered home uses the ground as an insulating blanket. Heat loss is further minimized with the native-grass green roof, continuous exterior insulation, thermally-broken aluminum windows, and high-performance glazing. Solar panels can also be easily integrated in the future. 

Exposed concrete walls provide thermal mass and protection from wildland fires.

Exposed concrete walls provide thermal mass and protection from wildland fires.

To design Jackson Residence for accessibility, the architects have placed the primary living spaces and the master bedroom suite on the main floor, while tucking the two guest bedrooms, a secondary office, and the secondary family room on the lower level. An elevator has also been installed to accommodate possible future mobility challenges.

WRJ Design led the interior design.

WRJ Design led the interior design.

 The property also includes a 780-square-foot guesthouse. 

Full-height glazing wraps around the living spaces, which overlook the expansive Wyoming landscape.

Full-height glazing wraps around the living spaces, which overlook the expansive Wyoming landscape.

"The intention was to make a dream-like place that is rooted in its extraordinary setting," explains Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. 

A freestanding pub offers a soak with a view.

A freestanding pub offers a soak with a view.

"Our clients tell us it is impossible to capture through photographs the experience of living in the house. It has given them a heightened awareness of the wildness of the Teton landscape and the ever-changing qualities of light throughout the day."

The subdued interior palette comprises of exposed smooth-formed concrete, painted drywall, and rough-sawn cedar.

The subdued interior palette comprises of exposed smooth-formed concrete, painted drywall, and rough-sawn cedar.

Bulthaup kitchen cabinets are complemented with quartzite and stainless steel countertops.

Bulthaup kitchen cabinets are complemented with quartzite and stainless steel countertops.

A look at the Jackson Residence lower-level floor plan.

A look at the Jackson Residence lower-level floor plan.

Here is the upper-level floor plan. 

Here is the upper-level floor plan. 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Builder/General Contractor: Cox Construction

Structural Engineer: DCI Engineers

Landscape Design: Hershberger Design

Interior Design: WRJ Design Associates

Electrical: Modern Lighting & Electric, Inc.

Mechanical: C N Engineers