“The people at Sugar Bowl, they’re very different than the people who want to be at Squaw Valley,” says Nancy Bechtle, head of the Sugar Bowl board of directors. Bechtle’s family was among the original homeowners. “It’s very traditional and family-oriented here. Everybody cares for everybody else.”
Homeowners have the option of being shareholders in the resort and all the perks that come with that: access to ski school, grocery and food delivery, cleaning services, even a snowcat to drive them from the parking lot to their snowbound homes. The Emersons have 5- and 7-year-old boys in the ski program, and they delight in the community events, sledding outings and holiday parties.
Then there’s the skiing: Sugar Bowl has impressive steeps and great cruisers, and it gets more snow than most resorts on the continent—400-plus inches per year. It’s also closer than other resorts to the Bay Area—and the Emersons had always dreamed of owning a ski home they could drive to.
The home itself seems to grow right out of the forest. Its simple lines resemble those of barns or sheds—and like the surrounding Sierra peaks. It’s a strategy Faulkner learned in graduate studies at MIT: Incorporate the local vernacular to make a building look like it belongs.
Faulkner also designs structures and all that comprise them—rooms, windows, doors—using a variety of height-to-width ratios that occur in nature. “It creates movement, like in a natural landscape. If all the trees were lined up to the same height, for instance, it wouldn’t look natural.” Richard, with relish, adds, “Those are almost subliminal details that, unless somebody points them out, you don’t recognize. But they create part of the feel.”
The home was “carefully planned so as not to disturb the site,” Faulkner says. “We wanted to leave as small a footprint as possible.” But at 3,900 square feet, it is not exactly tiny. His solution was to cantilever the living and dining spaces on the top of a small foundation, an “upside-down” layout that also serves to free up views from deep snowdrifts. “We feel like it’s an updated chalet look,” says Richard. “It’s modern, and yet it still has the warmth of the chalets from years past.”