Big Sky, Montana by Stuart Silk

Yellowstone Residence

The 6,100-square-foot residence is located at 8,100 feet on the side of a mountain in Montana’s Madison Range. The architecture of the house was inspired by the powerful landscape. The exterior of the house is a composition of Core-ten steel and board-formed concrete, materials, which embrace the harsh realities of the site and its immediate environment. It was designed by Stuart Silk Architects, who also created the interiors.

Concrete Walls

The project was organized by two, massive eighteen-inch-thick perpendicular board-formed concrete walls, which cleaves the house and extends into the landscape to the north and south.

Architect Stuart Silk:

“The first wall runs north/south and leads one into the house and directs views at Pioneer Peak. The second is faceted in four directions towards a tall narrow window providing peak-a-boo views from the living room in the otherwise windowless wall.

Approached alongside the wall, one is led to the entrance: a large, steel, pivot door. The wall continues through the house and extends thru the living room, where it directs the view across a timbered valley directly toward the 9,800 foot summit of Pioneer Mountain and the sky itself,”


The use of Coreten helps merges the home with the rocky soil, becoming an outgrowth of its site. A second four-foot-thick concrete wall runs perpendicularly to the first wall and features faceted planes that angle towards a tall, narrow window into the stairway and living room. The facets recall those found in the rocks on the site.

Silk: “The site’s rocky alpine terrain provided the inspiration for this home and led us to choosing board-formed concrete and Corten steel as the principal exterior materials. These elemental materials best captured this site’s essential characteristics. I saw the house like a barnacle clinging steadfastly to its precarious perch.”


Entry is at the upper floor of the two-story home. The principal spaces include the fifteen-foot-tall living room, which is flanked by two eleven-foot-tall volumes containing the kitchen/dining room to the west and the master bedroom suite to the east. The lower floor holds the entertainment room, three guest suites, and a bunkroom.

To maintain privacy, the home is nearly opaque on the entry side of the building except for a tall, narrow slot of glass in the faceted concrete and a two-sided projecting corner window that provides views to the north and east from the master bathroom.

Material Palette

The interior palette of materials is minimal and focused on natural materials and finishes.

Interior designer Julianne Shaw: “The project was a rare opportunity to work with a client who has a keen eye for a high level of design and detail. My goal was to create spaces specialized to the owners. We accomplished this by bringing the Montana landscape colors into the interiors, using natural stone throughout, and adding refined furniture, luxurious fabrics, and silk area rugs into their spaces.  The addition of custom art glass lighting and feature windows created the final sparkle.’’

At each level, a cedar, slatted ceiling is supported above the monolithic concrete floor. Structural steel columns are left exposed in the living room. Blackened-steel panels delineate apertures in the thick walls. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow unobstructed views of the dramatic alpine landscape and sky, while a continuous band of clerestory windows in the living room allows balanced light to penetrate the home from four sides.

©Photos: Aaron Leitz (summer views) and Whitney Kamman (winter views)