The Butterfly House

The roofline defines a new house on May Park.

By Elizabeth Clair Flood


From the start, the location of the Riddells’ new home—adjacent to May Park in East Jackson, and with nearly 360-degree views that include the Tetons, Cache Creek, and Snow King—informed its design. As did the Riddells’ Houzz account. (Houzz is an online resource of home design photos.) Travis (a pediatrician at St. John’s Medical Center) and Annie’s (a nonprofit consultant) Houzz pages included mostly contemporary images. These images with the potential views started the design conversation.

After interviewing several local architects, the couple chose Brad Hoyt and Adam Janak of CTA Architects Engineers’ Jackson office (the firm’s main offices are in Billings, Montana). CTA’s aesthetic, a blend of contemporary and traditional, appealed to the Riddells. “Right away we all seemed to see eye to eye,” Travis says.

“The Riddells wanted a pretty contemporary house,” Hoyt says. “Not a cold office-like building, but one that was warm with contemporary forms and natural materials.” Its most distinctive feature—a butterfly roof—didn’t come until the end of the design process. “We realized the design allowed for a higher ceiling in the master bedroom, and this seemed to balance the project,” Hoyt says. Years ago a shape like this might have been considered impractical in the Rocky Mountains, but today’s technology and engineering allow the roof to hold snow well and also to easily drain.

Travis liked the organic midcentury modern roof style right away. “There are so many box-shaped homes and shed roofs in this area, the butterfly roofline made the house feel uniquely ours,” he says.


While the couple wanted a contemporary home, the process started in a very old-fashioned way: with love letters. For years, Annie and Travis had scoured East Jackson, with an eye toward the eclectic area closest to May Park, for vacant land. A hodgepodge of historic cabins, ski-bum shacks, and, in the last couple of years, contemporary buildings, the area, however, had few empty lots. They wrote “love letters,” as they called them, to neighborhood homeowners, inquiring about available land. Finally, they got a response: an owner of a large lot was willing to subdivide, selling them a double lot running east/west and directly on May Park.

The couple’s design program included a great family room, a mudroom, a playroom, two kids’ rooms (the couple are already parents to toddler Case), a guest room, a master bedroom, a home office, a garage, and outdoor space. With Google SketchUp, Hoyt and Janak moved the rooms around, orienting the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom toward the Tetons. “The design grew out of organizing the spaces and volumes to the views,” Hoyt says. “There wasn’t a predetermined poetic form. It was more pragmatic.” Determined to keep the house under three thousand square feet, the couple shrank bedrooms so they could maximize public spaces.

architecture_03As the design evolved, Annie’s home office inspired the portico. She wanted an office that required walking outside—this would be more private, and the separation would allow her to leave work behind when she returned to her family. A portico allowed for both and also grew to become the home’s main outdoor space. “We wanted to be able to entertain on the south side, but take advantage of the Teton view to the north as well as the shade when we need it,” Travis says.

In an old-fashioned, neighborly way, the portico, on the ground floor and near the street, engages the Riddells with their neighbors. To take advantage of views, many newer homes in East Jackson feature upstairs living spaces. In doing so, these houses lose connection with the neighborhood, explains Hoyt. “Even if this house wasn’t right on the park, there’s no doubt it’s a part of its neighborhood,” he says.


| Posted in Departments
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