Neisser Residence

To build in the historic district of Aspen is to accept the stringent zoning practices and design guidelines put into effect by the Aspen City Council to regulate the scale of new residential buildings and to preserve the character of the clapboard, carpenter built miners cottages that populated this Victorian silver mining town in the 1880’s.  This home, while adhering to contextual rules and the F.A.R. that apply to the “West End,” maintains the scale of its Victorian neighborhood without resorting to a sentimental reproduction of that style.  Its stepped, shed roof design echoes the shapes of the old mining structures that once dotted the mountainside that looms above it, as its form responds to the shape of the rocky promontories that ring this valley of the Roaring Fork River. 

While solving the stylistic preferences of its modernist owner, the design also sheds the massive snow falls that are endemic to this alpine valley.  On that same climate note the locally quarried “redstone” that comprises many of the historic buildings in town protects the base of the house from the elements as it forms the terrace and the radiantly heated flooring of the interior.  Other practical and healthful materials include maple finply cabinetry and natural fiber rugs and upholstery.

The architect and landscape architect, Maria Smithburg of Artemisia in Chicago, collaborated on this modernist garden’s interpretation (albeit recycled) of the rills that run down the mountain side through the historic districts of the city and the “West End.”

“The plan consists of three rectangular wings arranged on the site asymmetrically, but within each of these segments the meticulous symmetry for which McCurry is famous prevails.” — Mildred Schmertz, Architectural Digest, May 1999