For Benjamin Luddy and Makoto Mizutani, the New Belgium Ranger Station (a restaurant and bar with a warm, contemporary take on its namesake just next to the lifts and gondola in Snowmass Village, Colorado) represents a return to their roots. You see, the pair received master’s degrees at SCI-Arc and have been practicing together since 2006 at their multi-faceted, LA–based design studio, Scout Regalia. There, they have been designing furniture, home products and graphic identities. With the Ranger Station, they’ve completed their first built architectural project.
“The space used to be a pizza parlor,” explains Mizutani, “and needed a total revamping. It had a terrible ceiling and was pretty run of the mill, but we saw potential.” Working in collaboration with the New York–based design studio Reunion, which was responsible for the original concept, they played with the idea of a ranger station—what it meant, what it should look like. “We didn’t want it to look like a theme restaurant. We wanted it to be warm and inviting without being kitschy,” says Mizutani.
In their solution, the heart of the restaurant is a riff on that mountain-architecture staple, the A-frame. (“Our challenge was to design a space to have multiple spaces,” notes Luddy.) It defines the bar area, which in turn provides the main circulation point for the rest of the space. Luddy and Mizutani added louvers above to disguise mechanical equipment. Seating runs along its perimeter. Additional seating areas radiate out in the form of stool-ringed tables, with banquettes beyond. The pair teamed with Reunion to design the wainscoting along several of the walls. It features a herringbone pattern that evokes mountain peaks and is crafted from beetle-killed pine. The material meshes with both Scout Regalia’s commitment to sustainability as well as New Belgium’s.
Not surprisingly, they also conjured up furniture for the place—easier said than done considering furnishings had to be packed into just 750 square feet and not to mention skiing is a seriously equipment-heavy undertaking. “Everything had to be really functional,” says Luddy. “We had to find situations where you could integrate skiing into the small space.” The stools are one smart solution; they feature cubbies below the seats to stash gloves, goggles and other skiing detritus. (They’re not just for slope-side restaurants, however. Scout Regalia is offering the stools for sale.) The tables are another custom design—with a picnic table crossed with matchstick feel. The latter is supplied by the colorful “socks” on the lower legs that can withstand a pummeling from ski and hiking boots.
How is the new space working out? In Snowmass over New Years, Mizutani had a chance to see it in action. “It’s great and cozy,” she reports. “The vibe is in line with what we aspired the space to create. You can have a seat, hang out, get a hot cocoa. It was nice to see people actually doing that.”