Built to Last, Together

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Bruce and Donna Genderson have been coming to Steamboat for over 12 years. They’ve happily owned a slopeside duplex where they vacation with their three daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren. They love the skiing and the mountains as much as the authenticity of the town and the people who live here. Steamboat is where the Gendersons connect with nature and family—a place where they can continue to create meaningful and fun shared experiences.

While they loved their duplex and mountainside setting, Bruce had always been interested in designing and building a house. When the vacant lot next door became available, the Gendersons purchased it. The location was ideal, but it presented substantial challenges. The land was steep, the access was difficult, and the ground was predominantly granite. Questioning precarious possibilities was not only the first step in building their impeccable home, it was also the enticing mindset throughout the three-year design-and-build process. One whole year was singularly devoted to excavation and more than 250 tons of granite were ultimately removed.

The home the Gendersons envisioned was to be large enough for future generations, with a mountain contemporary style—but not cold—and a touch of rustic. Ski-in, ski-out was also important, and taking advantage of the sweeping views extending from the South Valley to the Sleeping Giant was a must. To transform their dream into reality, Bruce hand picked a collaborative team of experts with proven experience and a can-do attitude: local architect Joe Patrick Robbins, Steamboat’s Gerber Berend Design-Build, and interior designer Linda Steimke, who had worked extensively with the Gendersons in Washington, D.C.

Robbins had designed two beautiful homes for close friends of the Gendersons and Jeff Gerber had designed a fabulous addition—built by Hans Berend—to their duplex. The Gendersons loved working with Gerber Berend and also appreciated Robbins’ creative aesthetic. Robbins understood the Rocky Mountain microclimate and valued the familial relationship formed between the homeowner and the architect. Bruce wondered if he could convince the two to work together. “Bruce wanted all the things we brought to the table and found value in Joe’s skill set, too,” Bert Larson, Operations Manager at Gerber Berend, remembers. Now that the home is finished, Larson can tangibly see how it’s remarkable and unique. “It offers moments that feel a lot like us and moments that feel a lot like Joe.”

Bruce’s ability to bring two industry leaders together, foreseeing unparalleled benefits of their collaboration and integration, speaks to his principal inspiration for the project: family, cohesion, and togetherness. Robbins devised the original schematic concepts with the Gendersons and Gerber Berend. Gerber Berend then developed and detailed the design to create the construction documents. “I had never done anything like this before,” Robbins reveals. “I have to give a lot of credit to Gerber Berend for their wonderful details and tremendous ideas and follow-through with their designs.”

Gerber Berend has a well-deserved reputation for creating buildings with amazing views that coincide with the sun, the landscape, and the location. One of the things that allows them to be successful is their technology. Knowing that expansive views were a priority for the Gendersons, Gerber Berend created scaffolding to attain the main level view. They analyzed how high they needed to raise each level in order to see Steamboat’s breathtaking sunsets over the neighbor’s house and to obtain the critical ski-in, ski-out access. Mapping each perspective from the platform onto their 3D model, they orchestrated assorted views from the master bedroom, the great room, and the dining room. Gerber Berend’s technology was convincing, and it assured Bruce and Donna that their desired views were achievable.

Another priority for the home was that it be high performance. Gerber Berend is known for pushing the envelope of smart and efficient building.

“That’s our goal in everything we do. It’s part of our company philosophy to create homes that are energy efficient and low maintenance. We build homes that are a good use of our resources. They’re homes that can perform and last 50 years instead of 15.”

Jeff Gerber

Gerber Berend’s goal—to construct a home that would still be there for Bruce and Donna’s children and grandchildren to preserve family traditions—perfectly aligned with the Gendersons’ intention.

From a sustainability perspective, the home’s design and variety of insulation methods serve to reduce heat loss within the home itself. In consideration of Steamboat’s extreme freeze-thaw cycles, the design allows for airflow and venting to minimize thermal bridging through the rafters and prevent the formation of ice dams on the roof. With our climate’s quick temperature swings, warm board flooring delivers a responsive and comfortable level of heat with a very low temperature. The home has high insulation value per inch and seals gaps that are inherent to the building process. Comprised of natural stone and reclaimed materials that ordinarily patina over time, the home’s exterior is as low maintenance as possible. The home illustrates innovative technological advancements with repurposed items to deliver better value and attention to detail without sacrificing performance.

Within the home, the team’s collaboration came together so perfectly that everything radiates family. The first level opens to a large, open, and inviting foyer. Just inside is a formal mudroom and theater with stadium seating for 16 movie-goers. The second level has an exercise room and an elegant row of five bedrooms for Bruce and Donna’s children and grandkids. The third level has the master suite with corner office, a 424-bottle glass and stone wine bar, and the common living area inclusive of the great room, the dining area, and the kitchen. The east deck wraps around from the office to the kitchen, which features a pass through window for easy, multi-generational barbecuing. The kitchen’s Taj Mahal granite is a gorgeous, kid-resistant surface and its sleek Ferguson appliances are modern and safe. The west deck extends, seemingly forever, off the great room. This level is home—it’s intimate and cozy, open and spacious. The fourth floor, which both Bruce and Donna love, is a rec room and ski room with ski-in, ski-out access. Made specifically for the grandkids, the build and design team added whimsically appointed covert closets for playing, put light switches at kid height, and hung a good-natured warning sign: “For kids only, except for Pa.”

Some of Donna’s favorite features include the high ceilings, the floor-to-ceiling windows, the vast views, and the rich brown and blue-gray barn woods. The elevator is a central feature in the home. For practical purposes, the elevator ensures the family will be able to use the home as they age and multiply—going up four flights with newborns, strollers, ski gear, and groceries is no easy feat. Aesthetically, the elevator is encased within the stairs and serves to highlight their intricately woven wood and steel design and showcase the circulation, air flow, and open living concept as well.

“I love the detailing everywhere. We wanted the home to feel both contemporary and warm. Joe, Jeff, and Linda were able to marry those two concepts while also taking advantage of the space and the views. The whole team really understood us.”

Donna Genderson

Prevalent throughout the home is an understated but undeniable blend of functionality and beauty. “We utilize the structure as the ornament,” Gerber explains. “The materials used to create the home don’t just look like they’re doing the work,” Larson reiterates, “they’re actually doing it.” By using materials for their intrinsic strengths—timbers are great at compression and steel is great in tension—the structure supports and holds itself together. With integrity of design in every detail, every element, and every decision, the building is tight and built to last. With a clear vision of a family home for generations and a unified collaboration among talented professionals, the home is cohesive. Joe Patrick Robbins sees it as only an architect would: “It’s a very honest structure.”


Project Key Contributors:

  • Gerber Berend – General Contractor and Design
  • Joe Patrick Robbins Architecture – Architect
  • Linda K. Steimke – Interior Design
  • BNT CO – Cabinetry
  • Grasso Glass & Stone – Counter Tops
  • Hot Stuff Hearth & Home – Fireplace
  • Fins Tins – HVAC & ERV Systems
  • Alpine Lumber – Building Materials & Windows
  • Ferguson Selection Center – Appliances, Faucets, Plumbing Supply

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