Home Profile — Panorama Park
Words: Ashley Beyer
Images: Andrew Pogue & Paul Brokering
Article ran in the Spring Issue of Modern In Denver.
The timeline of domestic dwelling goes like this: childhood home, dingy dormitory, first cracker box apartment, better apartments, fixer-uppers, prefabs, and then finally, triumphantly, resoundingly, the pinnacle of American residence—the dream home. For many, this rite of passage is as terrifying as it is blissful. That’s because building something from scratch requires as many decisions as there are rented U-Hauls out on the road. That, and there’s permanence. The dream home is likely the last one will ever have. But suppose you’re an established architect. Suppose the unanswered questions look more like presents waiting to be unwrapped. Suppose you are commercial architect Kevin Scott, and for the first time in your life you get to design something incredible—and then live in it.
Kevin already had plans to add a master suite to his 1,000-square-foot ranch on the south end of Table Mesa in Boulder. However, he kept his eyes open just in case, and found a lot on a quiet cul-de-sac about a mile before Davidson Mesa descends into Boulder Valley. The esteemed architect ditched the idea of renovating the three-bed-one-bath bungalow he’d lived in since moving to Colorado in 1982, and put money down. His time had come.
But he quickly hit a snag. The lot had high power wires spanning across what would become the home’s main view of the notorious Boulder backdrop. The lines were an unshakable irritant. But defeat often breeds unforeseen triumph. Kevin turned around and noticed an undeveloped, one-acre lot at the end of the cul-de-sac, which boasted undisturbed panoramic views of the foothills to the west and the nearly 250-acre official open space to the east. He promptly called the owner and made an offer.
Kevin has worked with Davis Partnership Architects in Denver for more than two decades. It’s a firm known for its relatively contemporary and largely commercial project base. Over the course of his 30-year architectural career, Kevin has designed nearly every kind of building—from health care and elderly housing to higher education and financial institution—but it wasn’t until finding this plot that he decided to take on the one structure he’d yet to design: the contemporary private residence. His residence.
Before breaking ground, Kevin and his wife, Lynn, prioritized three architectural aspects: Acquiring the best mountain and high plains desert views possible, achieving the maximum amount of natural light while maintaining necessary privacies and adequate space to display art, and creating a gradual transition from the outside environment to the home’s interior. To keep the house from feeling stark and sterile, Kevin needed to hash out the details and find ways to incorporate some of the characteristics he loved most about traditional-style homes, while discarding the seemingly outdated residential elements of the past.
“A modern home should not just be a traditional house wrapped in a contemporary skin, but should incorporate the philosophies and concepts of what a modern home should be,” Kevin says.
The result is a beautiful two-story, 4,000-square-foot home, separated into relatively public spaces and private residential elements, and comprised of several rectilinear sections oriented on an axis. Each sector of the home adjoins to its implied spine, including a spacious open kitchen, dining area, and living room; an office loft, three bedrooms, and five bathrooms. There is also a private art studio (which doubles as a third guestroom) above a three-car garage accessible by the master suite deck and an outdoor stairway. This semi-detached component of the main living space creates clever movement and emphasis, much like the dot of an exclamation point.
As for other aesthetics, a review of Kevin’s art collection reveals a clean, crisp artistic style. Many elements of his collection, like an intuitive balance and an obvious eye for detail, can be seen directly transferred into the design of his home. From satin-finished granite countertops in the kitchen to a unique reveal wall element throughout the house, these details bring the most warmth, not to mention elegance. An outdoor stepped garden well allows for a horizontal band of ground-level windows running the length of the stairs, and in turn provides an uncommon amount of natural light in the basement. Wooden floors and paneling create a rich, warm ambiance, while programmable shades keep the afternoon light from blinding everyone as the sun sets.
It gets even better. As required of all new homes built in Boulder County, the Scott residence is impressively energy efficient. The furnace and air conditioning are 97 percent efficient; there are Lutron lighting controls, exterior LED fixtures, and a fixed metal sunshade on the western living room window. The walls are sealed and heavily insulated with spray foam insulation, as is the sloped zinc roof. The windows are thermally broken triple-pane glass with insulated aluminum frames. The carpet is natural wool and the hardwood floors low VOC- coated maple, which, along with indoor vacuum system, means significantly less off-gas inhibiting the indoor air quality.
This incredible outcome doesn’t necessarily mean that all decisions came easy for the first-time home designer. But with his background and newfound experience, Kevin has a few tips for those in his position.
He held several interviews with contractors before letting them bid on the project and partnering up with Rob Lucket Builders. According to Kevin, it’s key to stay flexible during the design process and expect change. Do your research; know what you want, determine priorities, and calculate a budget. Then learn how to vocalize it. Find an architect who understands your creative aspirations and can visualize your ideas as well as you can. Don’t let yourself be that person living in the awkward, stale museum with narrow rooms and low ceilings because you jumped the gun and didn’t plan properly.
“Be prepared to set aside a significant amount of time for this effort,” Kevin says. “Try to collect as many materials, catalogs, and samples as you can and make all or most of the decisions at one time so that everything works together.“
In the end, Kevin was able to successfully design his dream home in an area he’d been admiring for the past 25 years. It features the best views, the warmest light, and enough space to share it with friends and family.
“I think the house has to reflect the people, the owner, in every detail possible, with the right proportions and look to it, somewhat rich in its form and composition,” Kevin says. “This house is important to me because, abstractly and literally, it does just that.”