Ridgeline Chalet

Architecture, Branded Environments

Rib Mountain, Wisconsin





Granite Peak has been at the heart of a controversy for several years now in the local community. Seeking to expand on Rib Mountain State Park Land, Granite Peak is seeking to maintain viability in an increasingly competitive ski industry. In need of more beginner/intermediate runs and more areas for service of customers, the ski area has currently considered plans to expand on the west side of the mountain, which will intersect existing hiking trails.


Reacting to the controversy, this project seeks to look at a possible solution within the existing area leased by Granite Peak, creating facilities on the mountain accessible to both the ski area as well as the state park. Built along a ridge line at the top of the mountain near the lease boundary and existing state park facilities, the form blends into the landscape to extend the experience of being on Rib Mountain into the interior. By pushing service and circulation underground, one is able to emerge from a series of caves onto the ridge line and back out onto the mountain into the community areas. Placed on the mountain, these community areas interact directly with the landscape and views, placing the visitors back onto the mountain which has been integral to the local community for years, giving them the opportunity to become a part of the community through the shared experience.

Undergraduate Thesis Project

Existing Terrain​​

The existing ski runs on the ridge consist of 3 double black diamonds: Mamma Mie, Charlotte's Couloir, and Charlotte's Chute. Seeking to create more space for beginner to intermediate level runs at the top of the mountain without expanding the footprint of the ski runs, Charlotte's Chute is regarded to a blue square to be manageable for intermediate skiers and beginners seeking to access the top of the mountain.


While this method reduces the amount of expert level runs on the mountain, this favors more sustainable practices within the ski industry instead of expanding the area of clear cutting for trails and lifts on the western side of the mountain. This also prevents impeding with natural habitats and ecosystems already existing within Rib Mountain State Park. 

Natural Formation

Originally formed by glacial ice melts, Rib Mountain is a monadnock formed by harsh forces of nature and ice melt erosions over time. Reacting to the geography, the building looks to a ridgeline at the top of the Monadnock to form along, taking the shape of the ridge, while eroding portions of it away.

Due to the site, the program spreads itself out along the ridgeline, embedding along it, and utilizing the vertical height of the ridge to emphasize the experience of overwhelming and steep vertical rise that is present when walking around the mountain.

Environmental Mimicry

Hearkening back to the vernacular architecture of the northwoods, and the environment that is inhabited, the chalet utilizes woods and stones as the primary exterior materials to mimic both. Supporting materials include concrete, which is primarily board formed to maintain a tie back to the environment. Heavily present, glass allows for the visual connection to the trees and stones of the mountain.

Nature, Inside

Looking to the parent brand, Granite Peak Ski Area, Ridgeline Chalet maintains a simple and minimal environmental branding concept, focusing in on using the same materials found throughout to integrate graphics that aid in the experience of connecting the community through nature.


Below are locations considered for environmental graphics within the chalet.

Integrating People

Inhabited by people, and developed by people, Granite Peak Ski Area’s past is intertwined with the local community. They thrive in nature. By integrating visitors into the nature surrounding them, the experience of natural interaction is provided for those by inhabiting the chalet, connecting them with the local community.

erin burkard

Seattle, Washington


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