By Amiee White Beazley | January 22, 2019 | Home & Real Estate
The West End’s most unique residence has been transformed through a stunning marriage of old and new.
The existing north and east facades of the Victor Lundy home remain the primary focus after an expansion into the irregular, triangle-shaped lot.
For years, the brick and glass home sat on an awkward triangular lot at the intersection of Lake Avenue and North Street in Aspen’s historic West End. The large yard was overgrown, and guests occupied it seemingly infrequently. Some thought the home, a singular design among a sea of Victorians, was abandoned, left to the elements, destined for the wrecking ball. But what casual passers-by didn’t know was the house at 301 Lake Ave. was an exceptional example of modernist 1970s architecture, designed by an American master architect, Victor Lundy. In 1972, Lundy and his wife, artist Anstis, built their “garden home” after discovering Aspen in the 1950s. Only in 2014 did Lundy’s family place the home up for sale. Their one wish was the new owners consider saving the home, which was not under the City of Aspen’s Historic Preservation Committee designation.
The Lundys received five offers; four of the potential buyers optioned to tear the house down. Only one guaranteed to preserve the home’s architectural integrity.
From day one, the development team of Bill Boehringer, David Willens and Jeff Sobel understood the value of the original Lundy design and moved to voluntarily designate the home under the strict guidelines of Aspen’s Historic Preservation Committee. They also needed an architect willing to work with and be inspired by the existing home. The team brought in architect Derek Skalko of 1 Friday Design, who has a track record of award-winning West End remodels and additions. Sitting in Victoria’s cafe one morning in 2014, Skalko sketched his vision onto a paper napkin, an architectural solution that complemented Lundy’s original work by incorporating similar philosophies of materials, light and aesthetic.
Aspen designer Robyn Scott curated the interiors with furniture and art that feel endemic to the mid-century modern project.
“Our napkin sketch is essentially the design realized today,” says Skalko. “I was certain we could create something unique to the West End of Aspen. We’ve lost so many significant landmark properties in Aspen—The Given Institute, the Paepcke Residence—this was an important home worth saving in our community.”
The HPC agreed.
According to Historic Preservation Officer Amy Simon, while Lundy was a prominent American architect, the West End residence was not protected because the city’s preservation program, begun in 1972, focused only on Victorians. As the program matured, she says, some post-war-era sites of clear significance were designated, but the community struggled to define what was worth the regulations and benefits that are part of its preservation efforts.
“Preserving this building is important because the architect is a nationally noted modernist,” says Simon. “Two of his buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is unusual for a living architect. The fact that he built a summer home in Aspen and his family remained engaged with the town for some 40 years is an illustration of the significant design community that arose from the influence of the Paepckes, Herbert Bayer and the International Design Conference.”
A great deal of the home’s design success is driven from the creation of the triangular subgrade patio area, or “court well,” that allows a high percentage of natural light to enter into virtually every subgrade space of the home, which includes four guest suites.
With the mentorship of architect Chad Oppenheim, who consulted on the project, Skalko dove into creating a design that balanced the integrity of the original vision, while complementing it with a daring, modern wing that brings natural light to almost all of the rooms—something particularly important to Lundy. Skalko’s research included a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the Library of Congress, where all of Lundy’s drawings and architectural plans were recently archived, including those of the Lake Avenue home.
“I had the opportunity to go through his archives and realized his plans for the house contained concepts he couldn’t afford to execute, or the technology at the time held him back,” says Skalko. “Studying Victor’s original concepts, and embracing what he had created, we were able to develop and incorporate a new language into the house that would honor the design going forward.”
The original home, at a modest 1,800 square feet, was known for its soaring, east-facing, 18-foot solarium, which remains but has been improved upon with windows that open completely to the outdoors. A 30-foot-long fireplace inside is intact, while the kitchen has been repositioned, redesigned and rebuilt. It is a spectacular space that is both an homage to Lundy’s midcentury-modern mastery and 21st-century innovation and technology. “The great room,” Skalko says, “might well be the greatest great room in the West End.”
The great room is a predominantly masonry-and-glass construction, with a cedar-planked ceiling floating above. Clerestories allow for light to hit every direction. The space continues to be the heart of the home’s entertaining and daily life, with seating areas by the fireplace and solarium features.
Skalko’s most important change was in the bedrooms. The two original bedrooms became one master with a study, and utilizing the triangular nature of the lot, Skalko created a new east wing that houses a lower-level living room, four guest bedrooms and spa featuring a minimalist Japanese soaking tub, all walking out to the court well, as well as a green roof and roof top deck, adding almost 8,000 square feet to the new home.
“I’m convinced, if Victor had the economic means and the technical abilities in 1972, he would have approached the home even more adventurously. He always wanted to move the bar forward; that is the genius in his work. He was generations ahead in his architectural thinking. Now that the home is protected, no matter how Aspen changes, this specific piece of architecture will always be as wonderful as it was in 1972. Victor’s genius will always be right here.”
Photography by Derek Skalko