Grand Gathering Place

When DMB/Highlands Management Group set out to build a clubhouse for its 2,177-acre Martis Camp community, the goal was to create a majestic, timeless building befitting its stunning Sierra site, a structure that would still resonate a century from now.

To bring that vision to life, architect John Sather of Scottsdale-based Swaback Partners borrowed a page from the grand-scale national park lodges built in the early 1900s, right down to pitching a tent for the summer on the 11-acre site. Working in the field, Sather fit the building to the contours of the rocky outcrop near Truckee, aligned views with the Carson Range, Sawtooth Ridge, Lookout Mountain and Sierra Crest, and studied sun angles, prevailing winds and tree lines.

Through the organic design process, the architect discovered places for several terraces that further fit the building into the site. Ample vistas and direct outdoor access is available from nearly every room. Like the Grand Canyon Lodge on the park’s North Rim, the Camp Lodge flirts with the edge of a dramatic cliff.

In the true spirit of creating a heritage building, longtime local craftsmen leveraged their talents to achieve the desired Arts & Crafts–era ambiance.

Kelly Brothers Painting stained the Camp Lodge’s shingled exterior (repeated at the Martis Camp gatehouse) its forest-green hue to match the alpine surroundings. Third generation Johansen Masonry employed native materials, such as the grey granite reclaimed from the site, in stonework throughout, including the lodge’s 14 fire- places and fire pits. The Standteiner family’s Mountain Forge blacksmithing business fashioned fireplace end irons, screens and custom light fixtures. Creative Design Interiors laid down miles of tile.

The Camp Lodge, which took two and a half years to complete, also stands out for its use of common materials in uncommon ways. The striped red and black asphalt shingle roof uses color and varying widths to break up the visual pattern and minimize impact. The spires act as an integrated roof detail, akin to exclamation points on the ends of each wing of the building. In the octagonal-shaped Cliff Room, the patchwork quilt ceiling took over 500 hours to create, hand-sewn from reclaimed and vintage fabrics.

Through its sense of spaces, design and décor, the Camp Lodge has captured the best of a bygone era. Yet it is also a model of modern sustainability, built to LEED Gold standards with extensive insulation, natural light and operable windows not commonly found in buildings of this size. Reclaimed and recycled materials are found throughout (including 80 percent of the exterior furniture).

With the lodge’s multiple dining rooms, luxurious spa, decks and pool, Martis Camp certainly created a spectacular gathering place for its owners. It is sustainable both in its materials and appeal—a shining landmark built to stand the test of time.


Architect: Swaback Partners

Builder: Hayhoe Construction

Interior Design: Vallone Design, Swaback Partners

Landscaping: Swaback Partners

Square Feet: 50,000 ± [plus 12,000 of terrace & patio areas]


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