The founders of GYDE Architects design a space to decompress.
By Joohee Muromcew
“The site—it was both the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity,” muses Nona Yehia, who, along with Peggy Gilday, is co-principal of GYDE Architects. The nearly five-acre site for this 5,000-square-foot home is near the breezy crest of Saddle Butte, with mostly pristine Grand Teton views to the north and sweeping views of Sleeping Indian to the east.
Rather than sharing a lot of dream-house clippings with the architects, the client described the multilayered, multifaceted experience she desired in arriving and being at home. An accomplished, driven neurosurgeon from Texas, she envisioned every moment from driving up Saddle Butte to taking in the view of the Tetons from her master bedroom as a cathartic process she calls “shedding hot hell.” Yehia and Gilday responded with a schematic plan incorporating intentional paths and pauses: A quiet, sheltered driveway leads to an auto court, with a garage separated from the main house by ten or so paces. These provide the client with moments to decompress and take in the serenity of an interior courtyard. Entering the house, the eye is immediately drawn to and beyond the dining room, which appears to float before a stunning view of the Grand. A “widow’s walk” of sorts extends from the double-height living room over the space below, stretching that last retreat into peace to within near grasp of the Tetons.
The volume of the house and the roofline had to respond to the landscape. “When a client allows us, we try to consider the house a part of the landscape,” explains Yehia. “And the site is always a participant in the design.” Gilday shares various ideas of volume and shape their team created using a 3-D printer, setting them upon a 3-D replica of the site. The temptation to relate the pitch of the roof obviously against the slope was revised for more nuanced iterations that speak to the landscape, rather than in contradiction or overt extension of it. The house rises with two separate volumes, one sheltering the living room area and the other above the master suite. One roof subtly lifts away from the slope, while the other seems to be “peeling away from the earth,” as Gilday describes. Nearly half of the living space is on the lower level, with large-scale windows taking full advantage of northern and eastern views. The design creates intimate interior spaces with larger-than-life dramatic backdrops of the valley.
Exterior materials are still under consideration, though Yehia and Gilday discuss dark steel or stone for the base, with warm woods and glass to lighten and brighten the upper elements. This home is the first residential project they’ve worked on together: It was only in 2017 that the women merged their respective firms. On their evolving creative process as partners, Gilday says, “It’s been pretty fluid. The greatest challenge is we’re both so excited to work on it. But, most importantly, there’s a lot of trust between us, and between us and the client, so it works.”