Located in Clio, CA this recreation facility serves the surrounding community and resort with a diverse set of activities for any season. With a nod to the Frank Lloyd Wright clubhouse it cohabitates with at the resort this project compliments and highlights the dramatic scenery and history of the area. This project won an Northern Nevada AIA Honor Award as well as the Nevada AIA Merit Award. 

New ownership at the Nakoma Resort needed to address two vital issues for the near- and long-term success of their properties: the need for overnight lodging and the need to draw new interest by providing more opportunities for recreation and leisure.  Two buildings were conceived, one of which was the boutique hotel: Lodge at Nakoma, and the other was a recreation facility: Altitude. 

The programming of Altitude was undertaken in concert with the ownership team to explore the possibilities of providing a diverse set of year-round recreational options in and around the site of the facility.  Key programmatical elements were selected and located for their distinct functional attributes, or essential connectivity either visually or by physical proximity.  A breezeway connected the ‘active’ areas including daycare, climbing gym, fitness center and locker rooms.  Consideration was taken to provide enriching and appealing views from treadmills, stationary bikes, and the elevated yoga studio.  The southern section of the building is more formal and meant for reception, lounging, and dining.  All areas of the building are connected to the central focus of the facility: the pool deck. 

Integration into the topography of the site and providing a sense of prominence and arrival were essential to the visitor experience at Altitude.  With dramatic scenery and views to distant mountaintops, view angles were carefully considered early in the planning and site analysis phase.  Locating the facility in terms of elevation and proximity to existing drives and access points was carefully considered while providing a generous pool deck and outdoor dining opportunities.  Access to and views of the adjacent creek were vital while providing a sense of privacy on the pool deck for families from the nearby road. 

Commercial architecture design project

While the site conditions and geography greatly influenced the character of Altitude, there were two other essential influences that informed the architectural approach: the culture of the Maidu (Native American people of Northern California which called the mountains and valleys in the project area home), and the Frank Lloyd Wright Clubhouse nearby. 

While respecting the beauty of the Wrightian forms and presence of the Clubhouse a short distance up the hillside, Altitude does not mimic the formal design, but instead uses the importance of masonry, rhythm, and the primacy of the ‘fireplace’ as a gathering point to create order and drama.  The FLW building was designed for another site with flatter topography, and was inspired not by the local Maidu, but by the structures of Native Americans in the regions of the Midwest. 

The beautiful and intricate Maidu baskets and bowls weaved together with function and aesthetics in mind found their way into shaping the pool deck and it’s rings, and the interplay of color and material of the cladding.  Symbiotically the habits and traditions of the Maidu fit well with the site and program.  In the summer the structures of the Maidu would be built so that the opening faced east to catch the morning sun, and the walls of the structure (often made of cedar bark) were closed to the harsh afternoon sun from the west.  The ‘breezeway’ connecting the key features of Altitude along the north-south spine features large operable doors and a rhythm of glass facing east to the pool deck and to the morning sun to provide early-morning light and warmth to the morning users of the Fitness Center. 

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