American Ski Resort: Architecture, Style, Experience

By Munro, Sarah Baker | Oregon Historical Quarterly, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

American Ski Resort: Architecture, Style, Experience


Munro, Sarah Baker, Oregon Historical Quarterly


AMERICAN SKI RESORT: ARCHITECTURE, STYLE, EXPERIENCE

by Margaret Supplee Smith

University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2013. Illustrations, photographs, maps, notes, bibliography, index. 352 pages. $45.00 cloth.

On first opening American Ski Resort: Architecture, Style, Experience, I expected to read about Timberline Lodge, among other resorts, and Margaret Supplee Smith introduces Timberline right away: "The emotional resonance of Oregon's Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood (1936) helps explain why overhanging eaves, rustic timbers, and great fireplaces persist in ski lodge design" (p. 3). Smith focuses on the rustic design and Depression-era construction of Timberline Lodge in the first chapter called "Revamped Inns, Rustic Camps, and Resort Culture." Timberline's iconic style becomes a frame of reference for early rustic resorts in later chapters. Smith also lists Timberline as an early "signature ski destination" (p. 80).

In this history of ski architecture, Smith describes how and why resorts changed and what that says about changes in American society. She maintains that historical changes in ski resort architecture reflect a change in lifestyle as recreational skiing vacations evolved from wilderness outings to year-round experiences in recreational communities that offer a wide variety of activities. Smith argues that architecture "mediates skiers' experiences on the mountain in ways they may not realize but represents rational and considered decisions on the part of developers, architects, and planners" (p. 3).

The book is divided into three sections and covers the decades from the 1930s through the 1980s. It mentions over sixty ski resorts (located on a map on p. 7) and over one hundred architects. The two appendices are a listing of ski resort architects by decade of their birth and a biographical directory of ski resort architects. This large-format book is richly illustrated with interesting color and black-and-white photographs printed on high-quality, glossy, non-acid paper with generous margins. It is a pleasure to peruse and will appeal to readers who are in the ski resort industry and those who visit resorts that are illustrated and documented in the book.

The story of American ski resorts begins, ironically, in the Great Depression with the installation of the first rope tow in Woodstock, Vermont, in 1934. …

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