The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd

Regeneration

High ideals

A group of young US entrepreneurs are setting out to create a unique, crowdsourced ski resort where creatives and thought leaders can share ideas. Kath Hudson finds out more


‘‘We want to subvert resort culture,” says Sam Arthur, design director for Summit. “This is a blank slate to work with: we have a 100-year vision to create a town which is enduring and meaningful.”

Summit intends to create a hip and select ski resort with a difference: one with arts and culture at its core, featuring contemporary architecture, which will blend with and complement the spectacular surroundings.

Formed eight years ago by a group of four young entrepreneurs – Elliot Bisnow, Brett Leve, Jeff Rosenthal and Jeremy Schwarz – Summit organises invite-only social mixers – the Summit Series – with the aim of “building a community and places that catalyse entrepreneurship, creative achievement and global change to create a more joyful world.” Speakers at the events could include the founder of Wordpress, Uber or SoulCycle and the seminars are always complemented by food and entertainment from trendy, emerging chefs, artists and musicians. Immersive experiences, such as yoga, diving and skiing, are also part of the format.

The Summit Series started out as nomadic: taking over a tropical island or a cruise ship for the weekend, but as the Summit community grew, the need for a headquarters became clear. In February 2013, Summit bought Utah ski area Powder Mountain, with a view to creating a permanent home for the community, and as a destination for its events.

“The Summit founders felt like the community would benefit from having a place to invest in long-term, to build its culture,” explains Sam Arthur. “This project could have been in New York, on an island, or in a lot of different places; it just so happened that here in northern Utah the founders found a raw, beautiful, up and coming area.”

The Summit team were introduced to Powder Mountain by a member of its community, Greg Mauro, a venture capitalist who is also a partner in the project. The acquisition was achieved using funds raised through crowdsourcing within the Summit community, who bought in to the ski resort dream.

Formerly a privately owned and operated ranch, the evocatively named Powder Mountain is already a functioning ski area, with 7,000 acres of skiable terrain. It is much beloved by adventurous regional skiers, drawn by its uncrowded slopes and untracked powder, and it hosts 120,000 skiers/riders annually.

Its full potential as a ski resort has never been realised, partly because the local community have fiercely guarded its integrity: they have already driven away two development companies who wanted to build 2,000 houses and three golf courses. Apart from a few cabins by the main ski area there is little in the way of development at the resort, so most skiers come for the day.

Although Powder Mountain will serve as the headquarters for Summit and host its events, it is also important that it will function as a ski village in its own right, with day visits and tourism part of the ambitious plans going forward.

Construction of a new village will start this summer, comprising a main street down the middle, with restaurants, cafés, artisan retail, artists’ workshops and working studios on either side. Food will be at the core, as many of the Summit community are involved with the catering business, so the restaurants might change operators regularly and will reflect the seasons.

“It will be a culinary institute where there’ll be seasonal restaurants, and the operators will rotate,” says Arthur. “There will also be third party operators, but we’re not bringing in national chains to anchor the experience. There won’t be stores for high-end designer clothing brands. There will be a lot of interesting partnerships and brands, but not the formulaic type – only those that align with the values and ethos of our community.”

As part of the crowdsourcing arrangement, members of the Summit community paid between $1m and $2m for a one to two acre plot. There will be around 500 dwellings and several hotels.

Fifty founding members bought into the vision initially; this has now risen to around 110. “People very much believe in the community of Summit; investing in continuing and empowering that community was the logical next step,” says Arthur.

Building a community
All houses will be limited in size to 4,500sq ft, because Summit doesn’t want people to build castles which they don’t emerge from; they want them to be mixing in the village. “This isn’t a place to get away,” says Arthur. “It’s a place to lean in closer, like gathering around a campfire. It will be an incubator for ideas and friendships and will catalyse goodness in the world.”

In addition to the privately-owned residences, there will also be a mix of tourist accommodation. Arthur says they want to be “wealth agnostic” so are building affordable accommodation as well as some high-end hotels, the details of which are still under wraps. Drawing on its community, Summit has worked with LifeEdited, which specialises in experiential design and branding and focuses on small scale urbanist living, to design the micro-units.

“To keep it affordable we have put an emphasis on the social spaces,” says Arthur. “The living room, the hearth and the kitchen are scaled up, while the sleeping experience is scaled down. Bedrooms are only as big as they need to be and there will be bunkrooms and shared bathrooms.”

The approach to interior design is less about luxury and more about experience. “The architecture will recede into the landscape, to be part of the bigger whole and the interiors will be vehicles to allow a great experience, to enjoy the view and the sunset. The interest will come from the people inside,” says Arthur. “The materials will be humble and earnest and they will be unpretentious, ergonomic and functional.”

Design and architecture
Fifteen residential projects are about to break ground in phase one of the build. At the same time, a couple of key venues and lodgings will get underway. Arthur says these public buildings will be humble and fit with the landscape: “They will be wood clad buildings, which are not yelling for your attention. Warm on the inside and friendly on the outside, not asking too much of the landscape, or being too opulent.”

The village will be densely clustered, all the buildings will be orientated to make the most of the views and the light. Building sustainably is a given, but the buildings will also be modern in character. “Our goal is to create new mountain architecture, which will be subservient to the natural landscape,” says Arthur.

In keeping with many European resorts, the focus at Powder Mountain will be on pedestrian activity, with cars kept to a minimum; Arthur says they don’t want big car parks.

“Many US ski resorts are based on prosperity and sprawl, so they’ve become hollow experiences,” he says. “For us, restraint and focus and building stuff we really believe in, and which people want to use, is how we will be different. The expectation is that people will come and participate: ski, have a blast, meet people, share stories and be actively involved in making the next part of this place, as it grows and changes.”

The dream has been set out, but now the challenge is to bring it to fruition and the next focus is on the build. For a team of entrepreneurial creatives who expect to see quick results, the progress has been slower than hoped.

Services and infrastructure need to be brought in, village amenities and the dwellings have to be built, plus three or four more ski lifts to reduce the dependence on snow cat touring.

“Construction will take some time,” says Arthur. “We’ve got a lot of the nitty gritty work ahead of us, before we can have the curtains-up reveal. Lots of our planning is based around choreography: how we can build the place, but also fill it.”

After the initial crowdfunding, the development is now being funded by income generated from th Powder Mountain ski area, as well as Summit’s events business.

“We’ve transitioned to a real estate model and are working on a BB5 financing model where we’re getting funding from mainly China, in exchange for job creation,” says Arthur.

The Summit community sounds desirable and edgy, but as members mature, can they continue to keep up the same levels of energy? Arthur says the community will continue to evolve, welcoming new people with fresh ideas.

“You can’t hold on too tight. You have to set it up for success, so interested, passionate people can get involved. We learn from the more tenured people and listen to the younger people and put it all together to create the best experience we can.”

Arts & culture

It is its role as the Summit headquarters which the team feel will put the soul into the place. Arts and culture are a key part of Summit and they will become part of the DNA of the village, in the same way that Aspen came together around arts and culture in the 1950s.

As part of its support of emerging artists, Summit runs artists in residence programmes to create physical artworks. “It’s partly an incubator and partly a residence,” says Marshall Birnbaum, who runs the programme. “Artists spend between 14 and 21 days at the resort. They get the benefits of living in Utah, come to the Summit Series weekends and meet business leaders. Art and artists offer a unique perspective.”

Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit runs artists in residence programmes
Summit members learning caligraphy
Summit members learning caligraphy
Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: The Wellness
Through boundless insights, The Wellness specialises in innovation and sustainability of design, engineering, construction and after-sales services of spa, pools, fitness, leisure and other spaces for the hospitality and wellness industries.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The exhibition hall featured work by a wide range of artists
"There was a huge amount to see at Dismaland, and I found the experience both enjoyable and unsettling."

It generated massive amounts of hype, as well as an estimated £20m for Weston- Super-Mare, but was Banksy’s Dismaland worth a visit? We found out

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, US
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

Foundation Hall features the ‘slurry wall’ and the 36ft-high ‘last column’ covered with inscriptions, missing posters and mementos
"We set out by saying that our intention was to reflect the present with the Memorial Pavilion, whereas the two waterfalls going into the footprints of the two towers reflect the past"

Creating the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York involved meticulous planning. Its director Alice Greenwald tells us more

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The building’s nested stone volumes echo the materiality of the adjacent hutong courtyard houses
According to Ole Scheeren, the best buildings are the ones that tell us stories
"Economic value can be achieved by a sense of generosity towards the public domain"

The architect behind Beijing’s CCTV Headquarters and the Taipei Performing Arts Center talks form, fiction and fantasy with Kim Megson

Bjarke Ingels
"A unique leisure destination in the Greater Paris of tomorrow"

The key cultural buildings for Paris’s controversial new leisure destination

features
Susan Ungaro has been president of the James Beard Foundation since 2006;
"It was a truly one of a kind look"

On the winners of the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurant Design Awards

Marianne Shillingford
"The technology involved in paint is extraordinary"

Used cleverly, colour has the power to influence how people use the spaces they inhabit, says the creative director of Dulux

Architect Morten Schmidt, left, and artist James Turrell are collaborating on an installation for the ARos Aarhus Art Museum, called The Next Level
"We will create an experience of real colour and energy"

Using colour and energy for their vast ARos Aarhus Art Museum installation

cladkit product news
Koto Design introduces wood-fired hot tub
Koto is known for crafting modular, energy-neutral cabins and homes
Katie Barnes
A striking wood-fired hot tub has been unveiled by Koto, an architecture and design studio which has a passion for ...
CSI Design Expo Americas 2024 announces new Attractions & Entertainment Technology Zone
The event will allow buyers and suppliers to meet
Magali Robathan
Cruise Ship Interiors (CSI) invites cruise lines, shipyards, design studios, outfitters, and suppliers to take part in CSI Design Expo ...
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
cladkit product news
Eco Resort Network conference to convene in Mauritius this May
The event will be hosted in the Mauritius in 2024
Megan Whitby
Hospitality industry event Eco Resort Network is set to take place at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Turtle Bay, Mauritius, from ...
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Mather & Co and ITV unite to create Coronation Street Experience
Mather & Co has transformed the visitor centre into the ultimate haven for ardent Coronation Street viewers
Magali Robathan
Experience designers, Mather & Co, have orchestrated a remarkable collaboration with ITV to unveil the new Coronation Street Experience, a ...
cladkit product news
Ojmar introduces battery-free electronic locker to cut carbon footprints in health clubs and spas
Ojmar says the batteryless lock is easy to install and features a user-friendly interface
Megan Whitby
Smart lock manufacturer Ojmar has released the OTS20 Batteryless – the first battery-free electronic locker lock on the market. The ...
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
Siminetti unveils iridescent decorative panelling range inspired by plants
The Clematis design
Megan Whitby
The Botanicals is Siminetti’s newest Mother of Pearl decorative panelling collection, inspired by the distinctive patterns found in botany and ...
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd