10 Mar Ones to Watch: Jeff Williams
When architect Jeff Williams, of Williams Partners, designed a home in an isolated part of Idaho, he immediately thought of treating the structure like an outpost. The nearest neighbor was, after all, 20 miles away.
“It’s an unusual spot, but these folks decided that’s where they wanted to build,” the Ketchum-based architect says. “It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere and takes two-and-a-half hours on dirt roads when the weather is good.”
Located on open range and agricultural land between the Lost River Mountain Range and the Lemhi Range of the Pahsimeroi Valley, the home’s design was influenced by the rough, practical farm structures of the area. Williams thought of the home as a small compound. It’s organized around an enclosed garden courtyard reminiscent of an oasis. Arrayed around the courtyard are simple shed forms connected by flat roofs. The clients’ intent was to live in it all year, but the compound became a summer residence and needed to be low maintenance.
“[The homeowners saw] another project I’d done, and they liked the design of a simple shed roof house. They were looking for something contemporary, but rugged and durable,” Williams says, noting that the home’s orientation needed to capitalize on the view.
“I also try to make all projects respond to the site. It’s an important part of any project. The materials need to make sense. And where it involves the architecture, in contemporary houses, I like to expose the structure so the story of how the home was built is evident,” he says.
Over the course of the project, the homeowners purchased an additional 160 acres, adding to the scope. “As they purchased more property, they needed more room for equipment,” Williams says. “They added a shop and more garage space. The original garage became the guest house. Then we created a brand new entry gate into the house. In keeping with the original intent, it remains low maintenance, and has direct sight lines with views to the mountains.”
The home is reminiscent of its agricultural surroundings while maintaining a modern aesthetic. “It was a satisfying project for the clients,” Williams says. “They’d lived in a lot of big cities and this part of Idaho is so removed from everything, it takes a unique person to live in a spot like this.”