Ski and Sun: Blaze Makoid Designs a Home for Both at Lake Tahoe

Exterior view of Blaze Makoid Architecture's Martis Camp 506 near Lake Tahoe.
Exterior view of Blaze Makoid Architecture’s Martis Camp 506 near Lake Tahoe.

By Annette Hinkle

As an architect, Blaze Makoid is best known for creating modern, light-filled homes that embrace the summer seascape and wide open vistas of the East End.

But recently, Mr. Makoid and his firm were honored for a very different project — a West Coast ski house which was built high in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

The project, named Martis Camp 506, recently took home the 2015 AIA Peconic Chapter’s Daniel J. Rowen Memorial Design Award for Architecture. The award was named for Mr. Rowen, an architect and East Hampton resident (and friend of Mr. Makoid) who died of cancer in 2009, and the win comes for a 6,300 square foot house Mr. Makoid designed in Martis Camp, a 2,200-acre private ski and golf club located near Lake Tahoe.

When completed, Martis Camp will be a high-end gated community of 600 homes set amidst a complex of amenities and ski lifts that take skiers to the back of Northstar Mountain. The project came to Mr. Makoid through his friend, Erik Christoffersen of the Cotton Mountain Group, who approached him about developing a few lots in Martis Camp. Initially, Mr. Makoid wasn’t convinced that designing homes for a gated ski resort was up his alley, but he agreed to take a look at the property.

The den in Martis Camp 506
The den in Martis Camp 506

“What was kind of cool is, unlike a lot of these places, they built most of their big amenities already,” explains Mr. Makoid. “There’s a beautiful lodge, a golf course, and ‘the barn’ which is an activities place for kids.”

“But the one building that sold me was the ‘lost library,’” he adds, “a one room cabin stuck in the woods where you can borrow a book or leave a book.”

This is Mr. Makoid’s first West Coat project. Blaze Makoid Architecture currently has a second Martis Camp home under construction while a third is in the design phase. Mr. Makoid’s firm is also building a home at a similar ski venue in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a client who saw Martis Camp 506 (which is named for the lot number on which it sits), but wanted it at a different resort.

Though the Hamptons and Lake Tahoe share many similarities — both are resort areas populated by well-heeled second homeowners — this project required Mr. Makoid to design a property with a very different physical environment in mind. Martis Camp 506 is sited on an acre of steeply sloping, wooded terrain. Because the property has great views, the placement and footprint of the house were designed to take advantage of the natural features with minimal grading and tree removal.

“Because it’s on a hill, I made it a long house and pushed it into the slope,” explains Mr. Makoid. “The basement stuff is buried in the hill and all the rooms face out over the valley. Everything is loaded in one direction.”

Outdoor living at Martis Camp 506.
Outdoor living at Martis Camp 506.

In designing the home, another important consideration for Mr. Makoid was the changeable Sierra Nevada weather and the fact that, unlike the Hamptons, Lake Tahoe homes are used not just for winter skiing, but in summer for hiking, biking, kayaking and golf.

“The first day I arrived in Tahoe, it was June and there was still snow on the ground,” says Mr. Makoid. “They had eight to nine feet of snow that year.”

That fact alone made Mr. Makoid realize this project would be built for conditions and terrain that is far different from anything he’d encountered on the East End.

“One of the things you have to think about is where does that snow sit and what happens to that house?” he asks. “Not just maintenance wise, but if you’re in a house surrounded by six feet of snow? What’s your experience inside the house?”

Mr. Makoid’s solution was to build a house with many glass walls that provide unimpeded views to the outdoors. He also designed deep overhangs that protrude over exterior spaces ensuring snow free outdoor areas and views unimpeded by windows with snow piled high up against them.

Because the home is built into a hill, living takes place on several levels. Every bedroom has a view of the valley beyond and common areas are defined by glass walls that merge the indoors and the outdoors in, including a glass-walled bar room for the adults, a protected outdoor dining area which is built into the hill, and an outdoor gathering space with living room style seating, fireplace and a spa.

“Because of the multi-season use, you’re trying to create spaces you can use at different times of day and in different seasons,” explains Mr. Makoid.

Despite the year round nature of Lake Tahoe, like the East End, it is still a second home market and Mr. Makoid finds that no matter where they are located, vacation homes function in a specific way that is very distinct from primary residences.

Den exterior, Martis Camp 506.
Den exterior, Martis Camp 506.

“The things people need and the way we use the house as a second home is really different,” he says. “Kids aren’t doing homework, parents aren’t on the daily grind. It’s a place to relax.”

Which is why most second homeowners want houses with spaces that encourage social interaction. Kids’ rooms, notes Mr. Makoid, are not filled with the usual amenities, so they are more likely to come downstairs and interact with the household.

“The living, dining and kitchen areas and indoor/outdoor spaces are designed to have people coming in and out,” he says. “These houses can have 20 people staying in them at a time.”

“People like that activity and that energy,” he adds, “and modern architecture can accommodate these things a little easier with more flexibility.”

Blaze Makoid Architecture is located at 7 Tradesmans Path #8, Bridgehampton. For more information, call (631) 537-727 or visit