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Making it in Big Sky: Centre Sky Architecture

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Jamie Daugaard is Centre Sky Archetecture’s principal architect and founder. Daugaard arrived in Big Sky with his family in 2003 and opened an office to provide architecture services to big sky country. PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMIE DAUGAARD

By Mira Brody

BIG SKY – Centre Sky Architecture remembers a Big Sky before the Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks Mountain Club—that’s because they were some of the firm’s first projects in the area. Today, they work on projects across the Rocky Mountain West, with 20 employees across Montana, Utah and Colorado, designing custom, high-end residential, ranch and resort hospitality projects.

Explore Big Sky spoke with Jamie Daugaard, CSA’s principal architect and founder. Daugaard arrived in Big Sky with his family in 2003 and opened an office to provide architecture services to big sky country. CSA’s team understands the passion residents have for the area and they share that passion in the work they do for the community as they shape the narrative of Big Sky.

The following answers have been edited for brevity.

Explore Big Sky: Tell me about yourself and the history of Centre Sky Architecture?

Jamie Daugaard: In November of 2003 my family and I moved to Big Sky from Colorado and opened our first office in the “Blue Mall” of the Westfork Meadows Shopping Center, eventually relocating to our current office in the RJS Tower Building in Town Center. At the time, Big Sky was much smaller and the private clubs on the mountain were just forming. CSA’s first projects in Big Sky were YC171 (Yellowstone Club), Tuscan Farm (Big EZ) [and] Schultz Homestead (Spanish Peaks).

From there we continued to grow, as Big Sky was. We were able to add more team members and expand our architectural services. When the crash of 2008 happened everything in Big Sky changed for the next couple of years. During this time, architecture, construction and development was slow to say the least. By 2009, almost all of our projects went on hold, except one major project located in Whitefish called Great Northern Lodge. To this day, this is still one of our most recognizable projects.

EBS: How/when did you become involved with CSA?

J.D.: I am the Principal Architect of CSA. I formed Centre Sky in October of 1998, 23 years ago. Our first big project was a large ranch development in a remote area of Colorado. That project really got CSA off the ground and we just grew from there. Currently, Centre Sky Architecture works across the Rocky Mountain West. We design custom high-end residential, ranch and resort hospitality projects.

EBS: How has the company grown as the community has?

J.D.: CSA has expanded from one office in Big Sky’s Town Center to include offices in Bozeman, Park City and Telluride! We have been involved in projects throughout Big Sky including the Gallatin Valley, Meadow Village, and all over the mountain including the private clubs. We worked with Boyne on the Big Sky Resort remodel. We are proud to be a part of so many great projects around Big Sky and helping to create the fabric of Big Sky.

EBS: Tell me about the different services you provide?

J.D.: We specialize in residential and ranch architecture, but we also have a history with resort and commercial projects. The fun part is every project is so different. Whether we are working with a family on a custom residential home or a developer group on a commercial property – the needs and priorities are different. That’s what makes architecture so fresh and unique! We learn about our client and turn their ideas and vision into a living space. … We provide typical architectural services, but we take it a step further. We do site reviews with clients while they are in their due diligence phase. We have started to help clients procure lots to purchase. Recently, we have had several clients come to us without land and asked for our help in choosing a lot. We will spend time with them studying and comparing different lots to help them and their realtor decide which has the best potential for designing and building their future home.

EBS: What is the best part of working at Centre Sky Architecture?

J.D.: Our team and our clients. The knowledge our team members have is amazing. Getting to collaborate with the CSA team members makes me a better architect. The architectural process brings delight to our clients. We are lucky to have great clients who want to interact with us during the design. And we are starting to get repeat clients! Over the years, people we have worked with in the past have started new projects to accommodate their changing family needs and we get to design for them again.

EBS: What sets you apart from other local architecture businesses?

J.D.: Our team and our process. We are local, our employees live in these mountain towns and are passionate about this area and the landscape. We want to be a part of the development and the narrative of Big Sky. Our process through design, cost exercises, client inclusion, implementation of drawings into construction, and our creativity all set us apart from other architecture firms. We are very involved in not only the design phases, but the construction phases as well.

EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?

J.D.: ‘Here is your first dollar, now it’s up to you’—from my dad. He gave me a start but taught me that Centre Sky Architecture would be what I make it. Owning a business is rewarding and difficult, especially with the challenges of a resort town. Looking back we have contributed, adapted, and grown in Big Sky. And we are proud of that!

EBS: Anything else you would like to add?

J.D.: We are lucky we get to do what we love, and it has allowed us to make a life here in Big Sky. We have great client base spread throughout this community, whether it is Boyne with Big Sky Ski Resort, Yellowstone Development, Lone Mountain Land, or private individuals.

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