Joseph Montalbano: 90 Cessna Dr., Erie, CO

This weekend is the big weekend! The Denver Modern Home Tour is this Saturday, June 2 and we couldn’t be more excited to see all the amazing contemporary architecture that the Mile-High City has to offer. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets in advance online to receive the discounted ticket price.

 This week, we have one final home to share with you before the tour. This home probably has one of the more unique locales that we’ve seen on any of our tours yet. Bumped up right next to the Erie Airpark runway, this 3-bedroom, 5-bathroom home even boasts its own hangar. With beautiful, unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains, a homeowner couldn’t ask for anything more from this home. The designer of the home, Joseph Montalbano from Studiotrope Design Collective, shared more details with us about this incredibly unique property.

First off, could you briefly describe the inspiration behind the unique design of the home?

Several forces influenced the design.

1) The precise geometries of two strong axes; The runway and the view to the Rocky Mountains.

2) The demeanor of the client/home owner; risk taker, terribly organized, ritualistic

3) The presence of aircraft, both visual and audible

How did you manage to meet the homeowner’s desires for the design of the home?

We asked Cathleen to invent words that would describe the experience of each space in her residence.  Rather than allowing her to speak about a kitchen or powder room, we wanted to understand her desired experience, so we pushed her a bit out of her comfort zone.  The rooms in the home have names like “cockpit”, “enticement alley”, and “quick fix”

What effect did the house being so close to the Erie Airpark runway have on the design of the home? Was there any aviation-inspired design included in the house because of its location?

The house is so close to the runway that the FAA has an invisible line crossing the site that restricts objects from being placed there.  This literally shaped the tip of the western-most projection of the home.  Also, the proximity essentially guarantees no future development will ever block Cathleen’s view of the mountain range.  As such, the most popular space in the home was sited to capture that view.

In terms of aviation influence, the roof hovers overhead like a wing cantilevered from the fuselage, and the lap pool reflects the sky in a manner that resembles a runway upon descent.  One design feature that was not realized was the notion of literally painting the symbols of typical cockpit gauges directly onto the face of the metal hangar.

Do you think there’s a signature trademark style, unique to you, that you try to include in each of your designs? If so, what would that be?

Not really.  The common theme(s) in the work of studiotrope is simply to defamiliarize our clients from their expectations.  That is, reveal the extraordinary in the very ordinary.  Attempt to expose the latent beauty in everyday objects and spaces.

What place do you think contemporary architecture has in a city like Denver?

Everyone says Denver is a cow town.  What I’ve noticed since moving here in 1994 is an overwhelming sense of youthfulness, there is energy in the air.  A lot of outdoor activity and respect for nature, a desire to be urban and spend time with other urbanites, and an intrigue with internationalism.  There is a very vibrant art scene despite it not being boastful or overtly present.  My sense is most people in Denver are modest and somewhat reserved, yet clearly know the difference between commodity and art.

To see more work by Joseph Montalbano, head to Studiotrope’s website here.

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