US Market Update

Posted by Dave Farley
July 11th, 2011

A few comments, suggestions, and insights that may be of interest to industry…

I was in Seattle last week to meet with David Leavengood, principle of Leavengood Architects. This firm designs high-end public and residential projects for clients across the Western United States. Of particular interest to Leavengood is the redesign and renovation of historic lodges. He has worked on numerous projects for federal and State parks across the US and is currently working on the redesign of Crater Lake Lodge in Oregon.

According to Leavengood, “There’s the whole fantasy-storybook aspect of lodges. That has a lot to do with people searching them out. They go on vacation, exploring, spending relaxing time with family. It’s an opportunity to put fantasy into their lives. Lodges — the good lodges — always communicate that aspect.”

The firm believes in being true to the original design as the hand-hewn quality of lodges often has to do with the fact that the designers are not always professionally trained.  “In remote regions, the builders are ranchers — cowboys who get a notion into their head, seek out available materials nearby, and assemble it as simply as they can without the refinements that architects might bring to it”.  The firm’s vision brings considerable sophistication to the rough-and-tumble functionalism of Western ranch-home tradition.

“I got discovered while teaching in Montana. You do one log, heavy-timber building with stonework and a rusticated vocabulary and your name gets passed around. Small cabins grew into bigger personal lodges, then into ranches with horse barns and outbuildings. These are communities, and we are doing all the infrastructure and land reclamation, along with designing the buildings.” The firm has a branch in Jackson, Wyo., and does more work in Wyoming, Oregon, California, and Montana than it does in Washington.

The good news for members wanting to work with creative talented architects such as David Leavengood is that he is planning on attending the GBM in Whistler this September. For more information on his firm check out his website at

Some interesting developments on the Suncadia resort development. For background, Suncadia is a 6000 acre semi private resort community located in Roslyn Washington in the Cascade Mountains – a 1 hour drive outside of Seattle.

The development was conceived by the Jeld-Wen company, the huge window and door manufacturer located in Klamath Falls, WA. After some considerable pain and financial restructuring due to the recession, The Suncadia development is back and a decent number of residential and light commercial construction projects are currently underway.

The resort resembles Whistler a few decades ago with Mountain inspired homes situated around two golf courses a small village center and an owners lodge and fitness center.

Good opportunity exists for manufacturers who produce heavy timbers, millwork, and finished wood products that lend itself to the Mountain design. That is, if you have sold product in Whistler you may want to keep an eye on the Suncadia development over the next while.

For more information on Leavengood architects, Suncadia, or other opportunities in the Western US please feel free to contact me at

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