Mountain Architecture: An Alternative Design Proposal
for the
Wy'East Day Lodge, Mount Hood Oregon

by Thomas P. Deering, Jr.



 Site Selection
 The Village Metaphor
 Two Paths
 The Climber's Hut
 The Wy'East Day Lodge
 The Wy'East Day Lodge as Mountain Architecture
 The Drawings
 Notes on the Presentation

Ideas may exist in one's consciousness, but they have no existence in reality unless they can be communicated to another human being. The design proposal presented here as an alternative to the now existing Wy'East Day Lodge is an attempt to bring the ideas expressed in Chapter V into substantive reality. The program outlined above serves as the vehicle for this presentation. Further, it establishes the potential for "appropriate" mountain architecture to be understood in terms of a specific, albeit hypothetical, solution.

As with many academic architectural exercises, the rigid constraints of budget, logistics, or program are sometimes relaxed or eliminated to facilitate the presentation of a set of ideas. Such is the case here with the budget. Although it was a significant factor affecting the design of the existing Day Lodge, ($62 per square foot in 1972 dollars (1)), for this scheme the budget was relegated to the category of "within justifiable reason" and left at that. In most other respects the design proposal follows closely the intent of the program outlined above.

Site Selection

One of the drawbacks of the final site selection presented in the Environmental Statement is that it relied heavily on a specific design solution to bring about its objective, i.e., placement of the overnight accommodations building beneath the upper parking lot, opposite the main entry to Timberline Lodge (Figures 3.2 and 3.3). In addition, it is stated that the architecture of the new Day Lodge (and presumably the overnight accommodations building as well) must be "subordinate to the original lodge," etc. (2) (By putting the overnight accommodations building underground that goal is accomplished, although perhaps more literally than was intended.) These two constraints presume that one can construct buildings of substantial scale within close proximity of the Timberline Lodge and not effect its fundamental relationship to the site. While there is no question that Timberline Lodge exists within a magnificent setting which most acknowledge would be a shame to ruin, it is naive to assume that this will not change when a new structure is brought into existence nearby. For better or worse, Timberline Lodge is no longer to be the sole architectural representative of man's presence on the mountain.

Two approaches to siting these additional buildings present themselves. The first, as suggested in the Environmental Statement, is to attempt to have as little impact as possible on the stature of Timberline Lodge as it now exists, by locating the new structures so as not to impede the visual impression of the Lodge, or materially effect the views from it. The alternative is to recognize that no matter what the impact, the new structures will become part of the landscape which includes Timberline Lodge, and that there then exists a potential, by including the new structures within its domain, to reinforce those essential qualities of the Lodge which now elicit our affection.

These two views oppose each other in an important way. The first approach effectively denies the new buildings any possibility of exhibiting individual identity or character, whereas the latter approach encourages these new structures to bring something of their own to the site.

Figure 6.1: Design proposal site plan. (Author)

In the solution presented here, the latter perspective was chosen (Figures 6.1 and 6.2; Plate 6.1). Any new building built near Timberline Lodge will draw some attention to itself whether the intention is to do so or not. This is especially true for the Wy'East Day Lodge, as it is the first major new structure to be built near Timberline Lodge. It must therefore complement the original lodge and reinforce the established geographic identity or "sense of place". The situation can be likened to the beginnings of a small settlement or mountain village. The first dwelling establishes the location and character of the settlement. As the village grows, it changes and matures as succeeding generations add their marks. The significant difference at Timberline is that the Lodge is of such a robust character that it would be difficult, if not impossible to change the nature of the building itself without destroying its essential character. But, if Timberline, as a "village", is to grow, it must change. The choice is then whether or not to accept the responsibility to direct this growth in a way which has already been firmly established.

Plate 6.1: Computer drawn color site plan showing both old and new configurations. (Author)

Figure 6.2: Low resolution computer drawn site plan. (Author)

The Village Metaphor

The mountain village is an appropriate metaphor after which to model this change. While the Timberline Lodge resort complex will never have the indigenous resident population of a mountain village--an important constituent for continuity of change--the metaphor can still have validity. If change is directed from the outside with this metaphor as a guide, both the architectural character and the continuity of a village can be reinforced.

As in a village, or any group of structures, discrete exterior spatial volumes are defined by the specific relationships between building masses. One of the essential elements of a village is precisely this definition of space, and in particular the space defined to be the village square. This open space can also work in conjunction with a landmark building to identify the center or heart of a village. Such is the potential at Timberline. The Lodge itself is the landmark, identifying the "village" and marking its center. The 'plaza' in front of, and enclosed by, the Lodge is the requisite public open space. Timberline Lodge already begins to define a plaza, as the two wings offer partial enclosure on the north side. This space can be given further definition by proper location of the Day Lodge and overnight accommodations building at the perimeter (Plate 6.2).

Plate 6.2: Computer drawn color perspective of the "village" plaza. (Author)

As a specific solution, the proposal offered in the Environmental Statement does not acknowledge this "village" potential. Burying the motel rooms does not consider the issue of defining this exterior space, and the site for the proposed Day Lodge is too far away from Timberline Lodge to create any sense of a cohesive space between them. All the emphasis is placed solely on maintaining Timberline Lodge as the landmark and not obstructing its views to the south.

Another important aspect inherent in the village metaphor is the consistency of architectural vocabulary. On Mount Hood, Timberline Lodge has set a strong precedent establishing its own indigenous, and by now vernacular style. While the other new buildings in the "village" should not be simply copies of Timberline Lodge or blindly imitate its form, there should be some overt acknowledgment of this existing vernacular.

The architectural continuity of any village can accurately be said to be the product of three factors: locally obtained building materials, traditional construction techniques, and its particular climatic and topographical environment. Of these three, the environment is the only real constraint to which a contemporary mountain structure must be subject. It is no longer required that building materials and techniques be derived from the local tradition; these elements in fact, are now almost always imported. Therefore, a conscious decision must be made to incorporate local influences if the indigenous architectural vocabulary is to be retained as part of the new design.

Two Paths

To establish the village metaphor at Timberline Lodge, several decisions were made early in the design process affecting the siting of the new structures. The most significant of these was to remove all the parking from the upper lot in front of the Lodge, as well as from the access road between it and the middle lot (also suggested in the Environmental Statement). Parking is therefore be limited to areas within or below the loop access road. Since deliveries and guest drop-off for the hotel are necessary, a road to the plaza in front of the Lodge is be maintained, but at a width which would discourage casual vehicular use. This road has become, in effect, the pathway to the "village" from the urban world of the automobile--the link between city and wilderness.

Plate 6.3: Computer drawn color perspective of the "village". (Author)

The stream that the path must cross emphasizes again the transition from the mechanical to the natural world (Plate 6.3; Drawing 1: Site Plan). To travel this short path is an important step towards establishing a sense of place at Timberline which is unique and distinctly different from that which the visitor has left behind.

Figure 6.3: Skiers' path from the parking lot, through the proposed Wy'East Day Lodge, to the ski slopes. (Author)

In the past, the Timberline Ski Area was served only by this one path. Skiers would prepare for a day's skiing and depart for the lifts from an area just in front of Timberline Lodge and to the west of the upper parking lot. The Lodge itself also conveniently served this ski staging area. But, with the relocation of the skiers' facilities to the new Wy'East Day Lodge south of the access road, there is cause to move the staging area to a more serviceable location. Reasonable access from the parking lot to the lower levels of the Day Lodge, the apparent best location for the new skiers' facilities within the building, and then to the ski runs is required. To facilitate this arrangement, a new path--a skiers' path--is added to the solution. It would connect the parking lot with Day Lodge and ski runs (Figure 6.3). The Day Lodge itself then becomes a link between the skiers' and pedestrians' paths creating, in essence, a third path, within the building. This interior path connects visitor services at one end with skier facilities at the other. Commonly used facilities are located in between.

As a connection between the two paths, the Wy'East Day Lodge provides not only a directed physical route for the skiers to Timberline Lodge, but also a metaphorical link between the skiers and the mountain (Drawing 1: Site plan).

The Climbers' Hut

The facilities program specified a climbers' room to serve those who must sign the climbers' register or repack their gear before setting off on foot for other parts of the mountain. Instead of placing this room at the entrance of the new Day Lodge as suggested, it was deemed more appropriate to provide a separate but modest structure disconnected from the Wy'East Day Lodge (Figure 6.4). This new Climbers' Hut is located near the beginning of the visitors' path to Timberline Lodge, adjacent to one of the climbing routes to the summit (Drawings 1: Site Plan, and 11: Rendered Perspective). Here, its purpose extends considerably beyond the original intent expressed in the facilities program. Its very location requires that it also assume the role of a gate house marking the beginning of the visitors' path. More importantly, however, it becomes a marker or monument to those for whom the sense of place is perhaps the strongest--the mountain climber. To a climber, this point is the beginning of the personal part of the endeavor; the end of the anonymous, isolated travel by car. For the other visitors it is a reminder of the climber's last direct contact with civilization.

Figure 6.4: Sketches of Climbers' Hut. (Author)

The Wy'East Day Lodge

To the extent that the Wy'East Day Lodge is a link between the visitors' and skiers' paths, its primary function is to move people. The importance of this is apparent in the facilities program description of the public circulation spaces (marked "Circulation-Milling" and "Circulation-Lockers") which place heavy emphasis on movement (See Appendix C). These two descriptions include primarily space for people to move from one part of the building to another, but other non-movement oriented facilities are described as well, including the so called "living room" of the Lodge.

The space to which the "living room" is specifically ascribed-- "Circulation-Milling"--exists as separate from, if only in concept, the more utilitarian "Circulation-Lockers" space. Still the "living room" is seen only as an undefined area somewhere within the major circulation system, not distinguished as a space in its own right.

The "living room", or what shall from now on be referred to as the "lounge", should be the heart of the building. All other publicly accessible spaces are devoted to utilitarian purposes: ski rental, eating, storage, etc. The lounge is the only place intended primarily to facilitate human interaction and contemplation. It is simply a place to be. Without it, the Wy'East Day Lodge is just another utility building processing people. For this reason, the lounge must be treated as a destination in and of itself, distinct from circulation. The programmatic requirements for "Circulation-Milling" and "Circulation- Lockers" have therefore been separated into their constituent parts: public circulation, the lounge as a destination, and storage for skis and other personal belongings.

A comparison of the space allocation in the solution to the requirements of the facilities program reflects this reapportionment of uses (Table 6.1). The largest discrepancy can be seen under the category of Public Circulation, where the lounge as an additional program element and General Circulation as a specific programmatic space appears. Other differences are due partially to the fact that the proposed day lodge is simply a larger structure overall. Also, some spaces occurred more than once, notably the entries and public rest rooms, contributing to the additional square footage.

Table 6.1
Public Circulation 11,150 sf 24,000 sf
     General Circulation +7,000 sf
New Lounge
"Milling" Space
Brown Bag Room
+1,500 sf
+1,000 sf
+900 sf
Skier Services 4,850 5,600
Administrative Space 4,150 5.450
Dormitories +800 sf
Food Services 9,300 11,450
Dining room
Bar / Beer Stube
+1,100 sf
+600 sf
Utilities 6,450
35,900 sf 53,000 sf
13.2% Misc. Circulation, Walls 4,750
Total 40,650 sf 60,000 sf

The Wy'East Day Lodge is organized around a linear circulation spine which connects the upper and lower main entries. The bulk of the skier services which relate directly to downhill skiing are located closer to the skiers' path, on the lowest level of the Lodge, adjacent to the skiers' entry (Drawing 6: Skier Services Level Plan). Apres-ski, non-skier, visitor and administrative services are situated nearest the upper entry; the entry most accessible to those visiting Timberline Lodge and approaching the Day Lodge on foot (Drawing 4: Administration Level Plan). The middle level serves both user groups with two large social spaces, the dining room and the lounge (Drawing 5: Dining/Lounge Level Plan). These are located on either side of the circulation spine. First aid and ski patrol rooms are also on this level and are provided with direct access to the outside via the loading dock. The uppermost level contains the only private spaces in the building, employees' dormitories (Drawing 3: Dormitory Level Plan).

In plan, the building consists of two perpendicularly intersecting pitched-roof forms bifurcated by the wedge shaped circulation spine. The eastern half of the building is oriented orthagonally to the primary compass points. Turned fourteen degrees about a point located across the visitors' path from the upper entrance, the matching western half lies along a line passing directly through the summit of Mount Hood. The circulation spine knits the two together by filling the space in between. The central axis of the circulation spine points seven degrees west of south, directly toward Mount Jefferson, fifty miles distant (compare Figure 3.14: Direction of major viewpoints).

Figure 6.5: Computer drawn perspective of the proposed Wy'East Day Lodge north entrances. (Author)

Figure 6.6: Computer drawn perspective of the proposed Wy'East Day Lodge south entrances. (Author)

To insure access through a heavy snowpack, each of the three major entries--the visitors' entry, skiers' entry, and loading dock--protrude from the otherwise compact building form (Figure 6.5). Even with the substantial snow accumulation expected every winter, all of the entries should remain clear. The upper path is plowed to grade for vehicular traffic to guarantee access from the north. The lower entry, and two emergency egress points at each corner of the south facade will need to be cleared less often (Figure 6.6). Each will tolerate from six to ten feet of snow before access becomes difficult enough to require plowing, at which point the snow depth next to the building would have to be reduced to about three feet. The areas in front of the south facade can serve the dual purpose of providing access to the Day Lodge and acting as the staging area for skiers.

Snow is always a problem for buildings in the mountains. As stressed in Chapter II, all areas in which people are expected to be must be kept free of sliding snow. This can be very difficult when several sides of a large building must remain accessible all winter. The solution on the north side, in the case of the Wy'East Day Lodge, was relatively straightforward: pull the entries away from the building and let the snow accumulate around them. On the south side, the situation is very different. The large skier staging-areas directly adjacent to the structure must be kept clear of sliding snow at all times. It would also be of significant advantage to allow skiers to traverse past the entire southern facade on to the ski slopes without forcing them to remove their skis or walk through the building. The solution, therefore, is to project a snow chute over the entry vestibule far enough to leave a protected passageway for skiers. Still on their skis, the skiers could travel this passageway once a thin layer of snow had been laid down through it (Drawings 6: Lower Entry/Skier Services Level, and 11: Rendered Perspective).

The Wy'East Day Lodge as Mountain Architecture

Program alone does not produce architecture. It may suggest or restrict it, but it is the application of an aesthetic to the program that determines the final essence of the work. Some aspects of this aesthetic are subjective, a product of the designer's imagination. Some are not. Objective criteria such as those presented in Chapter III form the balance. The following discussion looks at the design proposal in terms of the criteria for "Appropriate Mountain Architecture" outlined above as a means to understand both the building and the criteria themselves.


The first criterion for an appropriate mountain building is to keep the overall form simple and understandable. The basic form of the proposed Wy'East Day Lodge is not as straightforward as the Timberline Lodge form, with its central head house and opposing wings. Although the major primary elements are easily identifiable however, and their interrelationships unambiguous. The Timberline Lodge form consists of only two essentially different building elements: the vertically oriented head house and the horizontally opposed wings. As a common feature, these two forms share the same roof pitch--16 in 12--and a shingled roof surface.

The three primary roof forms of the Wy'East Day Lodge, on the other hand, are all horizontally oriented and distinguished from each other not as much by orientation but by contrasting roof pitches. To the north, the wing housing the administrative offices, employee dormitories and gift shop draws inspiration for its form directly from the Timberline Lodge dining and guest room wings. The roof pitch is the same, 16 in 12, with hips at each end extending nearly to the ground. Both of the Wy'East Day Lodge wings are the same width as the Timberline Lodge dining wing yielding a form of similar proportions.

Abutting perpendicularly to this first form are the two masses containing the lounge and dining room. The roof pitch of these two forms is less steep, only 9 in 12. As the reciprocal of the steeper pitch, its slope is distinctly different from, but derivative of, the original. The programmatic functions new to the complex (dining, lounge and added skier services) are contained within the newer form.

The third primary element, enclosing the circulation spine, divides the overall form into two similar shapes. The result is apparent from the south side (see Drawing 11: Rendered Perspective), but is concealed from the main pedestrian entry to the north. This element's form is distinct from the other two both in terms of function and its relationship to the whole. The roof pitch is a much shallower 5 in 12. The roof surface would be clad in metal to facilitate snow movement, so its visual independence from the other forms is assured.

Figure 6.7: Computer drawn perspective of the proposed Wy'East form from an actual viewpoint. (Author)

The Wy'East Day Lodge has a multitude of roof pitches and a rational complexity in its overall form. When the Day Lodge is seen from a real point of view within the landscape, however, this complexity is not fully apparent and the form is perceived as coherent and understandable (Figure 6.7).


The task of maintaining a continuity in the range of scales within the various building elements was made much easier by the extensive use of natural building materials. For each surface, the texture of the material provides enough variation to obviate the need for additional scale-manipulating elements. Where the surfaces were large, such as the steep roof planes or areas with extensive fenestration, smaller elements were added to reduce the scale; dormers or mullions, for example. Windows themselves were kept small and groups of individual windows were used in preference to large single panes (See Elevations: Drawing 7, Drawing 8, and Drawing 9).

On the interior, continuous, smooth ceiling planes are avoided. Wherever possible, the hierarchy of the structural system is exposed to achieve this objective. Areas in which this was especially effective include the large ceiling surfaces such as over the circulation spine, lounge and dining room.

Interior volumes are broken down in a similar manner. At both the entries, space is "compressed" as one enters the vestibule then "released" again as one continues on into the building (Drawing 10: Sections B and C). The major public spaces are very large in volume, but their scale is reduced by horizontal structural elements penetrating the upper reaches of the space. (Robert C. Reamer used this device very effectively in the Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park; Figure 2.42).


The Wy'East Day Lodge is not strictly symmetrical, but it does rely on the balance of two similar building forms on either side of an axis as an organizing principle. Symmetry is implied in many facets of the design but never focused upon except to reinforce the axis and the sense of procession integral to the purpose and function of the circulation spine. Both entries are symmetrical about the axis at the actual point of entry but the symmetry of the form is eroded as it continues into the interior (Figure 6.8). The only architectural elements that exist in strict symmetry about the axis are the triangular dormers above the circulation spine and central longitudinal structural system, both of which lie directly upon the axis itself.

Figure 6.8: Circulation spine plan. (Author)


An intuitive sense of the building's firmness is perhaps the most observable of the criteria discussed thus far. If the ability to protect an individual from the harshness of the environment is apparent within a building's architecture, security and trust in the building as a refuge will follow.

The pitched roof, which will easily shed snow and rain, is the most obvious quality of the Wy'East Day Lodge that supports this criterion. Snow, the harshest aspect of the mountain climate, is directed away from the entrances and most window openings in a manner which poses no threat to skiers or pedestrians. There is no ambiguity as to which areas to avoid to be safe from sliding snow. Eave projection is minimal and overhangs, where they occur, are conspicuously supported by substantial structural members.

The Day Lodge itself rests firmly but comfortably on a substantial stone base. Despite the steepness of the grade, the building gives no indication of being threatened on its hillside perch by vertical ground movement or lateral snow pressures.

Fenestration is copious where light is required, but the individual panes of glass are kept small. The windows are sized so as not to destroy the essential nature of the walls, as well as to maintain the continuity of scale breakdown mentioned above. Where larger areas of glass were desired, small window panes were grouped together. Along the south facade there was a temptation to use large picture windows to highlight the view. Had this been done, the observer would have enjoyed the view while it was there, but, when it became obscured by inclement weather, a sense of insecurity would have resulted. Window pane size was therefore restricted, even on the southern walls, to a maximum of three feet square. The only exceptions were where the windows were located at least a story or more above the floor. Even then, the size was limited to four feet square. In most cases, the window panes measure less than two feet in their least dimension.

The character of the building's interior is dominated by an open display of the entire structural system (Drawing 10: Section A). Every element, from the underside of the four-by-six tongue and groove roof decking to the composite glue-lam columns is exposed. None of the building elements is hidden, with the exception of the rigid insulation contained within the thickness of the roof plane. Columns delimit the walls, allowing the vertical forces to be visually traced to their resolution at the foundation. Beams sit resolutely on their supports; the potential for ambiguity is reduced to a minimum.

Figure 6.9: Partial framing plan--circulation spine. (Author)

The hierarchy of the structural system is most discernable above the circulation spine, where it is visible to the visitor immediately upon entry. The magnitude of the potential snow load is acknowledged by a pair of sixty-inch glu-lam beams running the length of the space (Drawing 10: Section B). These members form the top chord of a series of trusses that focus the load onto three thirty-inch square built-up glu-lam columns. Above this primary support is a network of beams and purlins that knit the two adjoining forms together (Figure 6.9).

Figure 6.10: Framing schematic sketch. (Author)

Simple trusses also provide vertical and lateral stability within the flanking wings. Each truss, located along grid line, is of a different configuration to clarify the derivation of the sloped, angled ridge (Figure 6.10).

To maintain clearly the distinction between the functions of the roof and its framing, the roof surface is treated as an element independent of the structural system; like a skin stretched over an integrated web of supporting members. Above the circulation spine, the method by which the triangular dormers are formed helps to give clarity to this distinction: the roof surface is pushed up by one of the three main columns while the primary roof framing remains uninterrupted below (Drawing 10: Section B). Continuity within the system is maintained. No walls are created above the structural network, only the roof surface is manipulated to create the dormers.

The integrity of the entire system is based on the perceived strength of each of its members. Glu-lam beams and columns have been used throughout, as their structural capacity is understood by most to be in proportion to their dimensions. Had sawn members of the required size been available, they would have been preferred, not just for their rustic appearance, but for the implicit trust placed in elements whose existence within the natural environment is subject to the same physical forces as those affecting the area of intended use within the building. In other words, more trust is placed in a tree as a column, for this purpose than a glue-lam of the same rated capacity.

Trust in the structural integrity of the building is not all that is required to elicit an intuitive sense of well being in a mountain structure. In cold environments, the source of heat must also be salient. Two large fireplaces, anchoring the major public spaces, are provided within the Wy'East Day Lodge to accomplish this objective. Visible from either entry, their existence is intended to give strength to the social spaces as the ultimate destination for protection from the harsh mountain environment.


The image of the surrounding environment is manifested in the Wy'East Day Lodge in two ways. One, by vesting in the form a visual image of "mountain", and two, by drawing on the architectural vocabulary of Timberline Lodge to reinforce the existing sense of place.

Figure 6.11: Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood. (Morton Luman photo. Postcard by Smith-Western, Portland, Oregon. CT 1871)

Timberline Lodge contains, in its overall form, a strong image of the mountain peak (Figure 6.11). The head house rises like a volcano above the foothills of the two flanking wings. The correlation in this sense between Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood is obvious. The design for the Wy'East Day Lodge draws upon a slightly different image; that of the foot hills alone. There is no central peak, but the broad forms, continuous almost to the ground, are reminiscent of the lower, glaciated hills around Mount Hood.

The dormers over the circulation spine are intended to reflect yet another image from the mountain environment: dwellings on a hillside whose gables are seen just peeking through a deep blanket of snow. The metaphor is further reinforced by the structural system which pushes the roof covering up from below to let in light (Drawing 10: Section B).

Elements mentioned above which have been drawn from Timberline Lodge and adopted as basic forms in the Day Lodge also are instrumental in maintaining a consistent architectural vocabulary within the "village". Other, smaller scaled elements which were borrowed from the Timberline vocabulary include the Boston hipped dormers, the contiguous, arched chimney caps, and the exposed, massive, stone foundation. In a broader sense, the overall configuration of the Day Lodge is also reminiscent of Timberline Lodge, especially in plan. Both buildings are inflected in a concave curve focusing on the main entry, although the Day Lodge lacks the dominant central element of the head house as an underlining focus. In addition, one wing of each building is crossed by a transept which counters the tendency for the horizontal to overwhelm the vertical, thereby maintaining a balance in the play between the two.

The Timberline Lodge vocabulary is most rigorously applied on the northern portions of the Wy'East Day Lodge, where the continuity with Timberline Lodge should be the strongest. To the south, where the Day Lodge faces away from Timberline Lodge, its own derivative vocabulary dominates. However different, in both parts of the Day Lodge an image of the local environment, natural and built, is still contained within the form.


Color throughout the Day Lodge is primarily determined by the coloring inherent in its constituent natural building materials. Since wood predominates, variations in hue and value are intrinsic and depend significantly on species and surface treatment. In this manner, both the coloring and visual texture of the natural environment are reflected within the building. Brighter painted colors, to recall the metaphor of the flowered meadow, are added as accents by way of detailing, decoration, and artwork.

The only exception to this source of coloring would be the treatment of the metal roof surface over the circulation spine. It is a large surface which, by the nature of the material, must be of a single, solid color. Of the options available for surface treatment--anodizing, painting, galvanizing, or leaving the surface its own natural color--the use of a controlled-oxidizing material such as Kor-ten is the most appropriate. It conveys some desirable variation in surface texture and does not introduce a large expanse of artificial color into the environment. This decision is not as significant as it seems at first glance, since the entire surface can be seen only from a few land-bound vantage points (not including the summit of Mount Hood). Thus, the impact of such an expanse of a single color on the appropriateness of the overall form is minimal.


Wherever possible, surfaces throughout the building are left in their least refined or natural condition. Glu-lam beams and columns are finished so as to expose the laminations; lumber is rough-sawn instead of planed smooth, etc. In some cases, the choice of material is related specifically to how well the quality of the surface reflects the true nature of that material--the Kor-ten roof, for example. In other instances, where the messages to be conveyed by the material are more complex, the choice is based not on the texture alone but on other inherent qualities that the surface texture plays an important role in communicating. A good example is the use of stone for the foundation and fireplaces, which speaks primarily to rugged stability and "sense of place". Much of this would be lost, however, if the stone was not left in its natural state but was ashlar or dressed. It is used therefore uncoursed, in a fieldstone or web pattern. The wall as a single surface, as well as the individual stones within it, remains rough, to emphasize these deeper qualities (Drawing 8: South Elevation).

The surface texture of floors is also important and is often neglected. Carpets are avoided as they completely obscure any sense of the real floor beneath. Rugs would be used instead so the true quality of the floor surface would be exposed at the edges.


The Wy'East Day Lodge is substantially a wooden building, to be touched, seen, and experienced as a "living" object; an object that represents and embodies the natural cycle of life: birth, life, and potentially death. The Day Lodge does not stand invincible against the environment. Fire could destroy it at any moment, just as snow will inevitably loosen a shingle or two. Over time, as people use the Day Lodge evidence of aging will become apparent. Wooden surfaces exposed to the hand will wear to a smooth fine luster. Underfoot, wooden floors will also wear, but can be repaired or replaced as conditions warrant. It is important that all surfaces be perceived as restorable, even before any repair is necessary. Since ski boots inflict exceptionally heavy wear on floors, if wood is to be used for them at all, restoration or replacement must be possible. Concrete or stone is the common alternative to wood, but both have a tendency to become quite slippery when wet, a condition unavoidable in ski lodges. Concrete, textured to minimize its slickness, is used only for the lowest level floor. This is the most heavily used of the public areas where frequent replacement of a wooden floor would be prohibitively expensive. Wooden floor surfaces would be specified in all other situations. Whether of concrete or wood, the floor surface would be of a texture such as to allow water stains from melted snow and scuffs from ski boots without giving the impression that the floor has been damaged or constantly in need of repair.

Employing surfaces that age well is but one method by which the natural cycle of life can be incorporated into a building. Equally important is the notion of limits, especially the absolute limit of life itself--death. In the Wy'East Day Lodge, as in any structure whose wooden construction is manifest, this potential is omnipresent. Another limit, perhaps less obvious to the visitor, but still implicit in the form, is that of physical strength. By way of a visible structural system, the ability for the building to physically withstand the forces of nature can be subjectively evaluated. The mortality of the building is revealed through an intuitive awareness of its limit of physical strength, and thus potential for failure. This limit may be--and indeed should be--very high, but at least it is known.


In consideration of the ultimate criterion, to say that the Wy'East Day Lodge is a "Paragon of Optimism and Potential for the Future" is, at best, a subjective judgement. Inspiration from a work of architecture comes to each human being differently. The final evaluation, to be made by the individual alone, must be based not on a list of objective criteria, but substantially upon the users' own intuition. This not- withstanding, I believe the most important aspect of this design proposal is that the Wy'East Day Lodge has the potential to bring the visitor closer to the wilderness; closer to the "margins", and therefore into the realm of productive change.

This type of interaction with the environment is encouraged by the design on all levels, from the programmatic to the aesthetic. Just as salient qualities of the local environment are an integral part of the design, so are the devices that urge a more direct intercourse with nature. The two paths to the Day Lodge are not arbitrary. They force transition to it through nature from the vestigial urban parking lot. The point of departure is distinct. There is no question that one type of experience must be left behind while seeking the other.

Decks and outdoor sitting areas (skier staging areas) also play an important role in maintaining the direct link with nature. In a less literal sense, they too are a transition or "halfway" zone--but from the man-made environment of the building envelope to the environment of nature-controlled climate and landscape (Drawing 11: Rendered Perspective). The Day Lodge does not stand in isolation from its environment, but makes an attempt to become part of it. In so doing, the visitor is urged to be constantly aware of where he or she is. From the interior, views of the landscape are not given away like picture postcards, but are presented through restricted openings as a delicacy to be savored. The visitor is induced into active participation in the viewing experience. Thus he or she is aware each time, of becoming an extension of the landscape.

An essential connection with the most dominant feature of the local landscape, Mount Hood, is also firmly established--and again on several levels. Most obviously, the circulation spine is oriented towards the summit, presenting, as one leaves the upper entry, an unrestricted view of the mountain top. The summit is also visible from deep within the interior of the Wy'East Day Lodge. At a vertical angle of eighteen degrees, from the middle level of the circulation spine near the entrance to the lounge, the summit appears framed in the triangular window above the upper entry (Drawing 10: Section B). The view is there, but must be sought after. Metaphorically, an indirect connection between the Day Lodge and the mountain is established through by way of the literal focus of the circulation spine. This point in plan is marked in the landscape with a cairn, which also identifies the beginning of one of the walking paths leading north towards the summit. (Drawing 1: Site Plan).

If Wy'East, the mountain, is the ultimate local wilderness, then the Wy'East Day Lodge, in concert with Timberline Lodge, undeniably acknowledges its importance and constantly directs the visitor's attention toward it.

Continue to CHAPTER VI - PART 2
Back to Chapter V


1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mount Hood National Forest, Timberline Lodge: Final Environmental Statement, (1975). p. 16.

2. Ibid, pp. 18, 38.

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Master of Architecture Thesis
(M. Arch - University of Washington - 1986)

Extensive copying of this thesis is allowable only for scholarly purposes,
consistent with "fair use" as described in the U.S. Copyright Law.
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shall not be allowed without my written permission.

Copyright 1986 © Thomas P. Deering, Jr.