Dramatic mountain homes showcase modern design, innovative materials and breathtaking vistas. Iyna Bort Caruso takes the scenic route.

Not long ago, modern mountain architecture was an aberration. Today, it is a movement. Alpine architects are now in the business of breaking rules. They’re turning to exotic materials and innovative ideas from around the world for a mile-high mash-up of contemporary design and modern sensibilitiesShed roofs are replacing complicated gables. Floating stairs are nudging out log staircases. Refined is the new rustic.

Modern mountain design encourages homeowners to toss aside notions of what a resort residence should be and to redefine the vacation home experience. Advances in materials, construction techniques and engineering allow for more stylistic choices and greater personal expression in the most challenging locations and elevations. Those technical advances have also facilitated an important shift: mountain residences no longer need to be built as protective shelters against harsh environments. They can be inviting, light-filled spaces animated by sun and brilliant vistas.

Specialty materials, progressive designs and artisan crews come at a price and are typically found at the highest end of the market. “When you’re willing to pay $3,000 a square foot, that opens the door for craftsmanship and quality,” says Tye Stockton of Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty in Vail, Colorado. “Affluent buyers are less concerned about budget and more concerned about the emotions provoked in them by a property.”

Stockton is putting the finishing touches on his own modern mountain estate, one that hints at industrial design with steel I-beams and decorative rolled steel panels, complemented by imported reclaimed woods. The kitchen is sleek with stealth appliances and poured concrete counter-tops. A ten-foot-tall sliding glass wall system opens to a quintessential Rocky Mountain panorama of jagged peaks and waterfalls. “In traditional mountain homes, solid walls are for hanging art. With modern [design], there’s expansive glass and the exterior is your art,” he says. “It’s magical.”

New York-based writer Iyna Bort Caruso has contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Newsday, among others. 

Edwards, Colorado

Ideally situated atop a majestic ridge spanning the renowned Lake Creek and Squaw Creek valleys, this magnificent contemporary mountain estate offers privacy, breathtaking views and unmatched luxury features. Built for perfection on some of the most sought-after land in the Vail Valley, the property contains an open-sided glass ceiling elevator that travels three stories to the professional telescope observatory and to a state-of-the-art indoor tropical greenhouse that provides year-round fruits and vegetables. 

US$7,995,000  Property ID: 3RJQJ2 | sir.com
Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty
Matthew Blake +1 970 390 2692

Truckee, California

An exquisite custom-designed contemporary home by an award-winning architect is set on one of the last remaining nine-acre parcels in the Tahoe area. Completed in 2010, this one-of-a-kind home won Tahoe Quarterly’s 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award. 

US$6,750,000 Property ID: 8YQSCS | sir.com
Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty
Nathan Riedel & Gregory Boyle +1 307 733 9009

Wilson, Wyoming

Nestled within a private sanctuary of ponds, creeks, streams and endless evergreens lies The Serengeti Home, a new residence designed by Bay Area architect Lorissa Kimm. This fresh, contemporary and innovative home pays tribute to its surroundings with sweeping views and modern architecture. Significant care was taken with material choices including Iroko hardwood floors throughout, African mahogany cabinets and doors, Montana select stone and brilliant lighting details.

Price Upon Request Property ID: NG8G7N | sir.com
Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Realty
Erich Wilbrecht & Chris Wilbrecht +1 307 690 2468

Megève, France

A majestic and quiet modern ski home that offers luxury amenities and sophistication, this eclectic estate includes an exquisite master chalet and guest chalet.

Price Upon Request Property ID: SMSZE3 | sir.com
Propriétés de Megève Sotheby’s International Realty
Olivier Roche +33 (0)4 50 91 74 38

Québec, Canada

Surrounded by eleven acres of land, this unique property offers both privacy and modern sophistication. The contemporary design affords spectacular views of Mont Saint-Sauveur, while providing a warm atmosphere with open concept rooms, an indoor pool and lounge.

US$2,364,788 Property ID: VQ9EY6 | sir.com
Sotheby’s International Realty Québec
Rachelle Demers +1 514 378 8630