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Business profile: Centre Sky Architecture

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By Emily Stifler Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Currently under construction outside of Whitefish, the Great Northern Lodge will be reminiscent of the Sperry Chalet, a 1913 stone building in Glacier National Park.

Designed by Big Sky-based Centre Sky Architecture, the 12,400-square-foot, two-story single family Parkitecture style home with be built with large, native stones from a nearby quarry. It will have bronze window trim, hand-hewn timbers and a flagstone roof, according to architect Jamie Daugaard.

“The beautiful thing about it is the simplicity and the indigenous purple, red and green stone,” said Daugaard, owner of Centre Sky.

The lodge will be centered around a cobbled auto courtyard with one side built into a hillside. In Daugaard’s models, rooflines disappear into undulating roofs covered in four to five feet of soil, planted with native plants, and strewn with logs and boulders.

“It will be like the mountainside is still coming down,” Daugaard said.

The aerated cement walls make sure the lodge cannot burn or mold and boost the R-value. Pulling a certain book in the library will give access to a secret staircase.

Although Centre Sky is known for its creative, sustainability-minded, high-end design work, it has never done anything like this before – perhaps not many have, Daugaard says.

This, and a slew of other new design projects in the last eight months, indicates an uptick in business for Centre Sky, which also has an office in Denver, Colo.

Two new hires, architects Kelsey Ward and Sten Whitmer, will be working alongside Daugaard and Ben Emanuel, who has been with Centre Sky seven years.

The two offices work mainly in the Rocky Mountain West, but recent inquiries may have them designing homes in Texas and West Virginia. And while some projects – like the Great Northern Lodge – embrace a rustic Western style, Daugaard says he likes a more modern “clean rustic” style best.

As business picks up, he’s seen a move toward smaller, more efficient homes.

“People are really concentrated on keeping square footages down and are more interested in sustainable applications.”

Daugaard likes to design ‘energy factories’ – buildings that capture energy from the sun and Earth through photovoltaics, solar hot water, geothermal heating and cooling, or air-to-air solar panels.

In addition to high-end homes, Centre Sky designs commercial structures – most recently the Madison Valley Aquatic Center and preliminary plans for the Big Sky entryway monument. The firm has done remodels on existing residences in varying income brackets, and is planning a modern condominium complex with universal design in the Meadow Village.

Daugaard always tries to keep clients involved with the design process.

“The relationships I create with the people I’m working with are very important to me,” he says. “I think [architecture is] a positive element to society. I love the creativity of it. You’re creating a new structure. How is it going to stand the test of time?”

Recent press in architectural magazines including Mountain Living, Ralph Kylloe’s Rustic Living, Timber Home Living and Log Home Living have helped validate Centre Sky’s work, he says, and occasionally helped drive business.

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