The Dulcinea Residence: Aspen Personified

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Posted on February 28, 2019

Dulcinea is a single-family residence that optimizes the sweetness of Aspen’s historic West End. Yet also rising to the inherent challenges of Aspens historic West End’s small lots, capitalizes upon them, and marries them with all that makes the West End a joyful place for family, community, and nature. To the South is Aspen Mountain, North is the bright and sunny Red Mountain, directly across the street is a luscious park and the Red Brick Arts Center, a hub of local Aspen arts and culture. Z-Group Architects and the homeowners wanted to create a home that exemplified the area attributes to create something that visually, spatially, and experimentally conceptualizes these notes of the Aspen score.

The exterior of the main level is clad in light limestone giving a visual levity to the cedar wrapped the second floor, so much so that appears to float. The exposed dark structural steel looks as if its purpose is for aesthetics rather than to support the “floating” upper floor, regardless it is vaguely reminiscent of the ironwork from Aspen’s mining days. The color pallet is not monotone but natural, it combines color and tones found in the area hills and trees, the limestone mimicking the chalky white of Aspen trunks, the cedar in the iron-rich rock of our mountains.


One of the homeowner’s most admired features is the open family-oriented kitchen, a place for everyone to congregate. But this only scratches the surface of the main floor’s success. The home has incredible vacillating flow. Beginning at the rear in the two-car garage, one walks through a bright airy glass entrance corridor into the ski room, laundry room on the right, and ahead to the very private office suite with en suite. To the left through the ski room one finds the foyer, powder room, and is invited into the two-story living room. Glass and light to the west and brilliant plaster walls only help to fill the room with light. On one side of the living room is a large seating area under the ceiling height windows. On the other side,  a more intimate space near the central fireplace. The exposed structural steel beams gesture an attempt to compartmentalize this space from the ensuing dining room and kitchen but instead lead us further forward into the home. The dining room and kitchen houses floor-to-ceiling sliding glass panels opening the corner of the dining room to the wrap around patio. One finds that the line of sight has been raised up over the parked cars and passersby on East Hallam. It was an early decision to begin the main floor a few feet above grade. This accomplishes the feat of visually bringing the park of the Red Brick Arts Center, with its large old loosely dispersed shade trees, into the large corner yard.


A central stair leads up to the bridge with glass railing overlooking the living room. At one end of the upper level is the master suite and on the other is a private wing with two bedrooms. The roof-line begins its rise from the center of the home to the north and south. The master suite opens a field of view upwards to frame Red Mountain. Large sliding glass doors aid in bringing the outside in.


If the main and upper floors are about having a close relationship with nature and community than the lower floor is for the family. It is intimate, quiet, and insulated from everything outside. It fulfills all the family entertainment needs with a home theater, billiard table, wet bar, gym, and guest room, as well as utilizes the footprint of the garage. Z-Group Architects even maximized the square footage to include a spacious children’s bunk room.

This is an Aspen home. To quote the Aspen Historical Society,

“… the arrival in 1945 of Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke. The prominent Chicago couple brought vision, culture, a love for the outdoors … and infused modern Aspen with the idea that this was a place where mind, body, and spirit could flourish.”

These three pillars of the Aspen Idea have their plinths and base firmly seated in our community’s cultural foundation and conceptually this home reflects this ethos. It doesn’t close its windows to nature’s elements, nor its doors to the culture and community across the street, but rather embraces it all. And perhaps most importantly, on the inside, it creates a space that allows for the family to thrive, think, and play.


Progress images: Kelly Residence Progress Images and Kelly Residence Update

Photography by Shawn O’Connor Photography and Dallas & Harris Photography