The Designer
Willis Pember, AIA
Willis Pember Architects, Inc.
Aspen, Colo.

What the judges thought: The simple, clean design really lets the spa shine as a main attraction, while custom-designed planters help seamlessly integrate a modern look into the natural setting.

High-end and low-maintenance: These Aspen, Colo. homeowners wanted a place to unwind that was large enough for their family of six, had a custom look, and required minimal maintenance. Willis Pember, AIA, principal at Willis Pember Architects and lead architect on the project, answered their request with concrete walls for privacy, a terrazzo tile platform with floating steps, and planter boxes to add color and texture. “I like that we were able to use a drop-in tub and detail it in a way that made it appear much more high-end than the typical drop-in installation,” says Pember. Ben Allen, of I.A. Sedgwick and lead contractor on the project, designed a steel pit under the terrazzo tiles for service techs to gain access to the hot tub equipment. “There are two galvanized handles sunk into the center of each tile overtop of the pit,” he says. The whole space is designed for easy upkeep with an upscale appearance.

Custom planters add visual interest from above, while creating privacy below.
Custom planters add visual interest from above, while creating privacy below.

Secret hideaway: The spa is nestled between concrete retaining walls and sits underneath the cantilevered master bedroom. Pember says it’s also slightly detached and away from the main living areas, which creates extra privacy. “The spa was in an area where a lot of hardscape came together, our challenge was to make it feel softer, but still very modern and refined,” he says. He achieved this by strategically placing planter boxes in and around the space. Above the spa are custom designed planter boxes holding purple fountain grass and golden lysimachia, which trails down to the sand-blasted concrete walls.