Tom Kundig was TreeHugger's very first Best of Green architect back in 2009. I wrote: "Whenever we show the work of Tom Kundig, we are asked, "Why is this green?" I think it is when it does the right thing without hitting you over the head."
These days, however, there are a lot of people who are complaining that he is hitting them over the head with his cabin on the ridgeline on top of Flagg Mountain. Matt Hickman of MNN writes:
Although stunning and impressively sustainable in design, the Kundig-designed and co-owned cabin is being called an unsightly blemish on an otherwise unfettered natural landscape — the “only private intrusion on a virtually unadulterated ridgeline in the entire upper Methow Valley.”
Cocerned Methow Valley residents — many living full or part-time in the tiny community of Mazama — pushing for the modernist prefab structure to be relocated from its eyesore-ish perch believe that Kundig along with Seattle-based builder Jim Dow of Schuchart/Dow acted in direct defiance of a covenant established in 1987 that requires future owners of the mountaintop parcel to “to minimize the visual impact of any structures on the Mazama community as a whole.”
Kundig defends the cabin as low impact: "that the cabin will “live light on the land,” noting that it is "an 800-square-foot hut that’s off the grid. It harvests the sun. It harvests water.” It is also built of some of Treehugger's favorite materials, Cross-laminated timber made from pine-beetle damaged wood.
Hickman, who knows the area, concludes:
An interesting — and rather fiery — battle, to be sure. As a former Washington resident familiar with this remote and spectacularly beautiful area, I can see the reason for the outrage. Yet at the same time, it’s difficult to imagine Kundig, an architect with such utmost respect for the natural world who has worked in the Methow Valley before (just not on mountain ridges), embroiled in all of this.
I am a serious Kundig fanboi, but can't help thinking about what Frank Lloyd Wright said about this:
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.