Architect Rob Bramhall is the designer for two of our upcoming projects: a year-round observation tower on North Peak and a new slopeside condominium, Dream Maker Lodge. We asked Rob a few questions about his inspiration and ties with skiing.
How would you describe your style?
I think people are surprised by the variety of ‘styles’ that make up our body of work: traditional to modern. We work all over, so the way our projects look has everything to do with understanding and responding to our clients’ lifestyles, aesthetic preferences, and the special opportunities presented by their building sites and regions. We love anything with a view: mountains, water, meadows – rocky sites are some of the most fun – and we love playing with different woods, stone, glass, metals and landscape treatments, in response. The constant, as I see it, is that we focus on creating environments that are intimate in scale, balanced in form and proportion, thoughtfully detailed inside and out, and carefully-crafted using the highest quality materials we can cull. It’s very much a team effort and in the end, it comes down to a high level of finesse by all involved.
What are the top two projects you’ve worked on?
We’ve had so many amazing opportunities over the years: a modern glass and white stucco home in Naples, Florida; a log cabin-inspired guest house in Montana’s Yellowstone Club; a light and art-filled cottage home on the mid-Maine coast; a family home with guest cottage, barn and boathouse on Lake Winnipesaukee; a classic waterfront Shingle-style at Popponessett on Cape Cod; a family compound in Palmetto Bluff in the South Carolina Low Country. My two favorite projects in Maine are a recently-completed, ruggedly modern wood, glass, steel and stone home on a rocky site overlooking the Kennebec River in Woolwich. And, as a mountain lover and avid skier, another favorite is the trailside home we designed for a long-time Sunday River family. The site offered opportunities for capturing a full view of the mountain and trails on the front side, and for providing ski-in/ski-out access from the back. The design was inspired by the mountain architecture of the American West; we incorporated a ton of reclaimed lumber and stone, inside and out, and strategically placed over-scaled windows to frame peaks and trails and trees. Important to note, we had a really great client/builder team which makes for a great project.
What inspired you for the design of the new Sunday River tower?
I imagined creating a beacon, of sorts, something that was more sculptural, that could be experienced from the surrounding peaks, as well as along the journey up to the tower’s base and to its top. I looked at many precedents – from Finland, Latvia and France, to name a few – all more modern interpretations of a traditional tower. We’re looking at incorporating rugged materials, like Corten steel, which seems so at home in the mountains. The tower is still a work in progress, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the views from the top!
When did you start skiing? Where did you learn?
I started skiing as a youngster here in New England. It has always been my greatest passion, and when the time came to go to college, skiing is what sent me in search of a university that offered a strong architecture school in the mountains. I found Montana State University in Bozeman: excellent program in Big Sky Country! Powder mornings were sacred, even with our professors. We all wore our ski pants to class. I think I skied 50 days a year back then.
What is your favorite trail at Sunday River?
I enjoy most everything off of Locke or Barker. I do remember one magical night skiing with my daughter, ripping GS turns under the lights on Dream Maker on perfectly groomed snow. I’ve enjoyed Sunday River for years, but never more than as a guest at the trailside home we designed a few years back. There is no better way to experience the mountain than to wake up to its sunrises, ski hard all day, and then savor the apres ski hours, sunsets, and moonlight (even fireworks!) over the trails, before dropping, dog-tired into bed. It’s awesome.