By Oey Parker
All joking aside, Kurt and Chris explain their driving philosophy, “We seek to provide a space that evokes thought and entices one to explore the architecture, or as the noted architect, Charles Moore put it, we hope ‘to create a sense of place.’”
Who would have guessed that a simple encounter in a copy-shop—two busy architects with blueprints under their arms—would be the start of this successful partnership? But since establishing Dubbe Moulder Architects (DMA) in 1996, the pair have demonstrated their skill in residential and commercial design, interiors, preservation, and land planning. With a commitment to incorporating the natural surroundings (it’s Jackson Hole, after all) and staying true to each client’s vision, the principals at Dubbe Moulder have also focused on incorporating the most fitting construction technologies for each project. And their clients agree—this is a recipe for success.
Chris grew up in Connecticut and comes from a long line of draftsmen. His grandfather was a graphic artist and draftsman, and his father was a machine design engineer, and the two taught Chris how to draft at a very early age. Chris seemed to have a predisposed understanding of three-dimensional and spatial relationships. When Chris was a bit older, his parents hired a construction company to build the shell of a summer cottage in New Hampshire. Chris, his brother, and their father completed the rest of the cottage. Quite the introduction to construction for a kid—but this experience fueled his enthusiasm for design, drafting, and construction. Chris would later work for that same construction company.
Chris attended Kansas State University, studied architecture with an emphasis on vernacular architecture, and learned to love the plains of the Midwest. Chris then returned to Connecticut to work for several firms before being lured West with a job at an elite residential firm in Jackson. Unlike many young professionals who move West for a ski-bum stint, Chris relocated purely for his love of design and the creative process. His wife Jolene joined him. Chris has long been involved in the community. When his kids were younger, he coached Little League and Babe Ruth baseball and served on the Jackson Hole Youth Baseball Board. He currently sits on the Rafter J Ranch Architectural Review Committee and is a past member of Teton County Parks & Recreation Board.
Kurt grew up in Montana and spent several weeks a year at Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park. Kurt’s motivation to become an architect originated during his time spent here. Kurt recalls, “These types of grand old park lodges were very inspirational—they fit together perfectly with their sounds, smells, and sites. I wanted to be able to create such spaces that just worked in all aspects.”
Armed with this inspiration, Kurt earned a degree in architecture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Then he moved to the University of Minnesota to get a master’s in architecture with an emphasis on historic preservation. Kurt took his talent to Allan Greenburg’s Connecticut and Washington D.C. offices for 8 years, before an opportunity summoned him back to his roots. A Jackson celebrity requested Kurt’s expertise to build a private woodworking shop and a movie-screening room, so Kurt packed up and headed West with his wife, Colleen, and his daughter, Mika. Since settling in Jackson, Kurt has invested himself in the community as the founding member and past chair of the Teton County Historic Preservation Board. He is currently on the Wyoming Review Board for National Register Nominations, the Wyoming Monuments and Markers Advisory Committee, and the Board of Advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Both Chris and Kurt pride themselves on possessing practical and creative traits. Kurt says that Chris is, “the one to address the fundamental, essential ingredients of the architectural process. He’s all about the pragmatics of a project.” While, according to Chris, “Kurt offers a more theoretical and political approach. We constantly bounce ideas off of each other and include each other in projects we may be involved with. We make for a good balance, which creates a strong office and ultimately, better serves our clients.”
Today, Dubbe Moulder Architects has evolved into a firm with eight carefully selected professionals from all over the country who bring substantial backgrounds in construction and architecture to each project. Collectively, they offer an extensive range of professional services in all facets and phases of the building process. The team never flinches in the face of a challenge, but revels in the opportunity to make their clients’ dreams a reality—no matter how complicated (or unusual) the vision may seem. From a lap pool for pet iguanas, to a residence inspired by swanky jazz music, or a family compound inspired by a Norwegian child folklore, to a restored 1902 homestead, Dubbe Moulder has mastered the art of unique design projects that fuse with the land.
Multiple years spent working in the West and DMA’s expertise allow for the creation of structures that are in complete harmony with their environment, while simultaneously meeting the challenges inherent to building in the West.
Luckily the challenging projects are the most exciting for DMA. Kurt explains, “The environment is what draws the client to the area and also informs them about the architecture they want to achieve. You can have very contemporary or traditional styles in this region, either is comfortable, but you always have to factor in the environment.”
Chris reflects on the most rewarding projects, and says, “To be honest, the ‘easy’ properties are almost gone in Teton County, and so you’ve got to be creative in order to work efficiently and effectively with what is left. You have to be sharp and apply your skills to a challenging lot.” Chris points out, “We have the potential for severe temperature swings of around 150 degrees; it can be near 100 degrees in the summer and 50 below in the winter. We also have extreme snowfalls, frequent earthquakes, high winds, and shifting soil conditions. These are all things we have to deal with as architects, but that is where the opportunity for something great can happen.”
In such a dramatic environment, DMA also has to pay particular attention to elements such as forest fires—which can dictate where trees are planted—the large, local wildlife such as bears, and moose (who can easily take out a big bay window with a gentle lean), water access, frozen pipes, potential power outages, and the best ways to capture the epic Teton views. DMA has a thorough understanding of the local environment and conditions, as well as ever-shifting code requirements, local government concerns, and political agendas, so they can better inform their clients’ choices. Dubbe Moulder constructs homes that perform in all four seasons, with exteriors that are just as important and functional as the interiors. Natural topography is thoughtfully incorporated for outdoor living spaces, and natural grasses, indigenous wildflowers, trees, and shrubs bring the space to life.
While Kurt’s and Chris’ work can be seen all over the U.S., including Wisconsin and Connecticut, it is in the West where the majority of the magic happens. Their knack for creating homes that reflect their surroundings with an air of rustic sophistication has established DMA as one of the top architecture firms in the region. Many Dubbe Moulder-designed residences might be mistaken for multi-generational family heirlooms. This is due to DMA’s keen sense of place and idyllic design expression that never looks trite or superficial. Dubbe Moulder Architects has the resources, commitment, technical skills, and experience necessary to produce high-quality architectural achievements in an environment that is one of extremes.
For more information call Dubbe Moulder Architects at 307.733.9551 or visit dubbemoulder.com