Located at Sugar Bowl Ski resort in the High Sierra, The Crow's Nest Residence explores the intersection of classic aesthetics, craft, and the challenging climatic conditions encountered at its mountainside site. Designed as a slope-side retreat and gathering place for a family of six, The Crow's Nest takes advantage of its stunning setting while maintaining privacy from the busy nearby slope.  


Founded in 1939, Sugar Bowl is one of the oldest ski areas in America. The climate and topography around the mountain makes for unusually heavy snowfall, and its relatively small residential village (103 home sites) is typically snow-bound through the winter.


The home's site is one of the highest at Sugar Bowl, and at 7,080 feet elevation is substantially higher than the bases of many of the lifts. Despite being open to the adjacent ski run, the site also had the benefit of a cluster of evergreens on the uphill slope that had the potential to provide privacy and shelter.


With four children, our clients wanted a ski house that would serve as a gathering place for generations, prioritizing communal and social space, with the qualities of "nesting" and entertaining discussed.

There was particular interest in the form and materials of traditional Tyrolean mountainside chalets. Additionally, there was a desire for the design to express the exhilaration of the site and its dramatic location.


The verticality of the home celebrates the scale of the forest, slope and surrounding terrain. A board-formed concrete base anchors the cabin to the slope and establishes its structural grid, with a nearly square footprint designed to minimize impact on the land. This base references the sturdy ground floors of traditional Tyrolean homes.

In keeping with the client’s goal for a modern, clean feel throughout, the home is built on a 5.5-inch datum, where every board, shelf, window and door lines up on the measurement, from the foundation to the roof.

The roof is composed of a radiating series of glulam beams designed to take a snow load of over 400 lbs per square foot. The splayed form holds the snow it receives, an approach taken to maintain accessibility on three sides of the house while minimizing concern for falling snow and ice.


The cabin is anchored to the mountain through the use of board formed concrete diaphragms. Western hemlock was chosen for its richness of color and the priceless quality of not becoming orange over the years. 

Large, peeled-wood columns made of Douglas fir wrap around steel beams in the slightly sunken great room, evoking the feel of a large tree trunk inside. Hickory flooring complements the western hemlock walls.


In collaboration with Lisa Staprans Design, BCV worked closely with the client to create a warm, comfortable environment that also integrated with the outdoors during warmer months. 

Custom elements like the living room chandelier were designed by the architect, while local artisans contributed to the stone and woodwork, as well as details like custom turned posts by the outdoor grilling area. Fabrics were hand selected for texture, color and natural fibers that soften the spaces and, in the case of the curtains, glow with the sunlight as it tracks across the sky.