Situated on 35 acres of conserved land, the gently undulating, grassy guest house site serves an integral role in the 7,000-square-foot design. The site’s horizontality and low vegetation—resultant from the Green Knoll fire that wiped out all but the picturesque and resilient aspen trees—informed the structure’s low-slung sod rooflines and submerged design. Similarly, dramatic northern views determined the house’s upturned, butterfly roofline which maximizes northern viewshed while deemphasizing verticality, adding to the “ground scraper” effect. The simple material palette of stone, cedar and zinc-coated steel is complemented by the organic material palette of native-grass sod roofs that seamlessly blend with the site.
The Green Knoll Guest House serves as a counterpoint to the main Balyasny residence (see ongoing projects). In plan, the two structures act as interlocking half-moons that define a dynamic relationship, initiating a two-part dialogue. The rocky earthy walls that emerge from the ground and softly delineate the building envelope inconspicuously invite the visitor into an understated entrance only to open on awesome north-facing views.