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An Architectural Pioneer of Ski Cabins

Only one architect in our country that can say they designed the first ski cabins in Vermont and Squaw Valley.  Norwegian Henrik H. Bull is the award winning architect who can claim this fame, with many more accolades that followed.   One of Henrik’s famous ski cabin designs, featured as Sunset Magazine’s cover in 1962, is now on the market on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore as a split lakefront proudly offered by Tahoe Mountain Resorts Real Estate.

Born in 1929 in NY, Henrik Bull had architecture in his genes.  Bull moved to SF in 1954 and worked at an architectural firm in Oakland.  On the basis of being commissioned to design several ski cabins, Bull opened his own business in 1956. His early practice included homes, condominiums and later hotels in San Francisco, Marin and Lake Tahoe. Through the 50’s and 60’s, Bull designed many different forms of ski cabins.  He built the very first A-Frame cabin in the United States in Stowe, Vermont in 1953, and several of Squaw’s first cabins in 1956.  The essence of a good cabin, according to Bull, is that it should be simple and economical, but also fun, different and exciting.  He also believed that the timeless value of architecture should be achieved in choosing natural materials appropriate to the site, crafting them well and being conscious of the effect of time and weather to the building can become richer in time.  It is precisely this view that landed him one of his first awards, his “Cabin-in-the-round” home built from a redwood wine tank on Tahoe.  As one of the first “curved” wood structures back in the day, curved wood today is a popular architectural touch in modern homes seen in Martis Camp and other custom builds around Tahoe today.

 In 1967, Henrik Bull merged with 3 other firms to form Bull Field Volkmann Stockwell, known today as BSA Architects.  What’s fascinating is that their first large project together was the planning and architecture for Northstar at Tahoe, a new four season resort at the time.  Prior to that, Bull designed the famous Tahoe Tavern condominiums of Tahoe City in 1962.  This was the same year that Bull was selected to build the very first Sunset Discovery House, in El Dorado Hills.  Overall, Bull has received over 43 major design awards, with an emphasis in ski and recreational properties as noted below:

1955-1960: Numerous award winning vacation houses in the Lake Tahoe area.
1957-1967: Single-family houses in the Bay Area, several design awards.
1958: Restoration of the Sentinel Building in San Francisco, an early example of historic preservation.
1961: Christ Church Parish Hall, Sausalito. Design award from Guild for Religious Architecture.
1962: Sunset Discovery House, El Dorado Hills, CA. Featured in House and Home Magazine and Life Magazine. Homes for Better Living Award.
1963-1966: Tahoe Tavern Condominiums, the first high-end condominium project at Lake Tahoe. Governor’s Design Award.
1965: Snowmass Villas, the first condominiums at the new Snowmass resort in Colorado Progressive Architecture Awards.
1967: Formation of Bull Filed Volkmann Stockwell.
1969: Takaro Lodge, Te Anau, New Zealand, a hunting and fishing resort on the South Island. The first overseas project and first using a “charette” process working with the clients on site.
1971: Northstar at Tahoe, master planning, design of village and of 400 condominiums. AIA Northern California Design Award.
1978: Winner of invited competition for the planning of the proposed new capital city of Alaska, the site being a 100 square miles of wilderness between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
1980: Spruce Saddle Mountain Restaurant, Beaver Creek, CO, the first building at the new Beaver Creek resort. “Best Day Lodge” Snow Country Magazine Award.
1981: Bear Valley Visitor Center, Point Reyes National Seashore, CA. President’s Design Award for Accessibility, California Department of Rehabilitation.
1988: The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, CA. Article entitled: “Very large hotel respectful to nature and its neighbors” by Donald Carty in Architecture Magazine, July 1988. AIA Monterey Chapter Design Award, Gold Nugget Award, National Association of Home Builders.

An opportunity exists today to own a piece of ski cabin history on Lake Tahoe.  The Hurricane Bay Lake House is Bull’s “Cabin-in-the-round” which has been thoughtfully added onto over the years and transformed into a spacious lake retreat, yet preserving the structural integrity and beauty of the original structure.  Adorned with a pier, 2 buoys and over 70 feet of beach frontage this historic home is being offered today for $1,995,000.  Enjoy a virtual tour of this prestigious property at: