AKA: Sun Valley House, Sun Valley, ID; Selig, Martin, House, Sun Valley, ID

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Bystrom, Arne, Architect (firm); Grabher and Associates, Building Contractors (firm); Murase Associates, Incorporated (firm); Carl Arnold Bystrom (architect); Elmar Grabher (architect); Robert K. Murase (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1984-1987

2 stories, total floor area: 8,600 sq. ft.

709 Fairway Road
Trail Creek Valley, Sun Valley, ID 83353

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If Charles Sumner and Henry Mather Greene can be said to have designed the "ulitmate bungalows" in Pasadena, CA, c. 1915, then Seattle architect Arne Bystrom created the "ultimate ski chalet," filled with elaborate wood detailing, up-to-date technological touches and ingenious passive solar ideas, for venture capitalist Reid Dennis and his wife, Peggy, in the exclusive resort of Sun Valley, ID. The couple gave Bystrom carte blanche to design a fastidious, baroque weekend retreat in the mid-1980s, a residence that totaled a whopping $5 million at the time of its completion.

Building History

Begun in 1984, this house for Californians Reid and Peggy Dennis included the latest computerized technology available to regulate energy usage and HVAC functions. The house cost $5 million to finish, $2 million of which was for furnishings and computer technology. Bedroom suites, all equipped with independent means for setting temperature, were arranged in a stepped pattern providing each with privacy and southern exposure. As published in GA Houses, in 02/1987, the program for the house was as follows: "To design a mountain house that integrates the latest state-of-the-art solar technology with the warm tradition of wood structuralism. The plan is programed by functional priorities into three areas: a garage, studio and storage zone; a family-grandchildren zone with four bedroom suites adjoining a solar gallery that opens onto a sunken pool and garden; and a 'basehouse' containing a master bedroom, kitchen, dining and living area which provide the nuclear residential functions." (See "Arne Bystrom, Sun Valley House, Sun Valley, Idaho 1982-1986, GA Houses, v. 21, 02/1987, p. 64.) Others included in the design and construction of the house included: Darrold Bolton, Structural Engineer; Robert Murase, KM Associates, Landscape Architects; ENSAR Group, Incorporated, Energy Engineers; Grabher Construction, Building Contractor.

The Seattle real estate developer Martin Selig (b. 1936) became a later owner of the house.

Building Notes

This large vacation house featured a passive solar design, large arrays of solar panels and a earthen berm on the north side to insulate the dwelling from wind. The house's form was dominated by its shallowly-pitched clipped gable roof. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) bestowed the Sun Valley House a National Honor Award, one of 19 given out that year. AIA judges lavished praise on the Sun Valley House's structural details, planning, and finish. Progressive Architecture featured the Dennis House on the cover of its 04/1987 issue. It won a citation award from the magazine in 1985.

This residence appeared in the book, Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, by Stephen R Kellert, Judith Heerwagen, and Martin Mador, (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2008).

PCAD id: 13950