A new book showcasing the work of Colorado-based CCY Architects explores the firm’s design approach and collaborative process through 10 wide-ranging residences.
The title of CCY Architects’ new monograph says it all. For the Basalt, Colorado-based firm, “connection” is a recurring theme in everything the award-winning architecture team does — and has done for the past five decades. Even the firm’s office has no private workspaces, paving the way for unhindered collaboration among its team members. “We have a huge belief that when you work together, better things happen,” says CCY principal John Cottle.
When it came time to choose the homes featured in Connection: CCY Architects, released in June by The Monacelli Press, collaboration was key then, too. “I think the consensus developed around these 10 projects because they all exemplified the process of connecting with our clients, connecting with their site, and then learning from each of those elements and synthesizing that into a design solution,” says Todd Kennedy, also a principal at the firm.
Situated throughout the Rocky Mountain West, the featured homes vary in size, form, and location, but they all display CCY’s dedication to connecting architecture with its environment. In some cases, the connection is tangible. For example, one project — a low-profile ranch house in Missouri Heights, Colorado — features gabion walls filled with rocks collected on-site.
In other projects, the connection is more ethereal. In the book’s Gammel Damm residence, a modern mountain retreat nestled among 120-foot-tall spruce trees and inspired by the client’s family cabin in Norway, the house follows the gentle slope of the topography, with a singular roof that parallels the natural grade of the land. Beyond that, the architects also made the house itself a connector. “The site was really unique in that it was a combination of this subalpine environment and this high alpine desert, and the house really became a threshold across the two ecosystems,” says Kennedy. “So on one side of the house, to the south, the ecosystem is one thing, and to the north, it is a completely different thing, and the house is what brings those two environments together.” At first glance, it isn’t immediately obvious that there are scrub oaks and sagebrush on one side of the structure, while spruce trees and aspen trees populate the other side. “It’s subtle, but it’s really powerful,” Cottle adds.
“Subtle but powerful” could describe other pages of the book as well, like the section on a classical music-loving couple’s guest house and recital space in Aspen’s historic West End neighborhood. The building’s aluminum siding features light-filtering, laser-cut patterns representing different parts of the wife’s favorite musical score, Chopin’s Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2. “The perforated façade literally puts on a show throughout the day in terms of how light comes through the façade and then reflects off various surfaces and textures in the home,” says Kennedy.
Although this book, the firm’s second monograph, highlights Rocky Mountain residences, CCY handles jobs all over the world, including in-the-works hospitality projects in Palm Springs, California, and Beijing, China. “We’ve got some projects coming up that we’re really excited about,” says Cottle. “There might be another book in the future when we catch our breath a little.”
Photography: (All images) Book Publisher
From our August/September 2021 issue