An elegant island of light at sunset, the home was built by Douglas Knight Construction.

Artistry at Altitude

AN INHABITABLE WORK OF ART in Park City, Utah, clings to a mountainside at 7,200 feet above sea level. The home hovers a thousand feet above sprawling Jordanelle Reservoir, offering breathtaking views of the Uinta Mountains which parallel the distant Wyoming border.

The homeowners, empty nesters from Houston, Texas, wanted a second home at a ski resort somewhere in the West as a getaway and gathering place for family and friends, a place where they could relax and spend quality time together.

Both avid skiers, they chose Deer Crest, a gated community at Deer Valley Resort, for its proximity to superb skiing and a major airport that’s a relatively short drive away in  Salt Lake City. They wanted a view and a warm, inviting living space. “When we have a large gathering of family and friends, I just love hearing everybody having fun,” says the wife.

Local architect Michael Upwall was chosen to design the home. His firm, Upwall Design, specializes in modern buildings for mountain environments. “The extreme topography of this site was a challenge,” says Upwall. “We saw this as an opportunity for a roofline that would echo the natural shape of the land. Using natural stone and organic materials, our goal was to create a home that felt and looked like it was ‘of the land,’ like it had always been there, a dynamic response to the magic of the water below.” 

Veteran custom-home builders Doug and Nick Knight have worked with Upwall many times and were up to the daunting build. “We’re very comfortable with complicated design-build projects,” says Nick, who was on-site throughout the three-year project. “It’s a very vertical house. With a sheer drop of over 70 feet, the site itself was the most challenging aspect of the build.”

The home’s interior is spacious, yet intimate. Six bedrooms, spread over four levels, and no less than nine bathrooms ensure privacy. Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances complement the compact kitchen area.

Throughout the home are signature Upwall design features. Most striking is the free-floating, spiral staircase corkscrewing through the heart of the home, descending from the entrance through four levels below. Spectacular Bocci pendant lights pierce the staircase from top to bottom. Custom, curved windows flank wide, rich walnut steps. Dark walnut is found in architectural details throughout the home, from flooring to fluid, curved railings at every turn, all blending seamlessly with exposed structural steel.

Floor-to-ceiling windows, another Upwall trademark, reveal priceless views, from the reservoir below to nearby mountains more than 2 miles high. The windows bow outward as they encircle the home, emphasizing a connection to the water.

Nick says he and his talented team definitely “pushed the envelope” during the build. “To create a house of this caliber takes a collaboration of great craftsmen, artists really, with a lot of patience and perseverance,” he says, pointing out the visually stunning, cascading water feature that falls some 20 feet near the home’s front entry as an example. He adds that the elegant curved, cantilevered deck overlooking the pool and outdoor living area was a particularly challenging component of the home.

The swimming pool and graceful sculptures near the pool and at the entrance to the home were designed by Lee Klopfer, a landscape designer, artist and photographer from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Klopfer also designed the indoor, two-story Corten steel fireplace screen.

Linda Ashton, with Hamilton Park Interiors in Salt Lake City, says the homeowners were a joy to work with. “They wanted a warm color palette throughout the home and a comfortable feel to the furnishings. I selected a lot of dynamic, warm tones, keying off the interior natural stone. The home has a lot of undulations and curves, so I had a curved sectional and console custom made for the main-floor family room that mirrored that,” she says.

At 9,600 square feet, the home’s spectacular location and artistry are unsurpassed. And Upwall puts it best: “Creating a full-scale, functional sculpture in the mountains, uniquely suited to the wishes of a client, is the ultimate reward.”

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