This past December, Victory Ranch introduced its members to the community’s newest amenity The Post. Adjacent to the Freestone Lodge, and just steps from the Upper Provo River, The Post is the community’s new activity and social centerpiece; a place to pursue a new adventure, unwind by the pool, work up a sweat, shop for premium outdoor gear, grab lunch on-the-go and share stories with friends by the fire. We recently spoke with Matt Menna, Principal at Sterling Bay, the developer of Victory Ranch, and designer Karen Herold, of Studio K. Together, Matt and Karen have collaborated on a number of projects both at Victory Ranch and in Chicago. The Post is their most recent collaboration, and as our members can attest, it’s one that will be appreciated by all those who visit Victory Ranch now and for generations to come.
What was the primary vision for The Post as an amenity for members?
Matt Menna: The Post is the final piece of the puzzle for the Freestone Campus, which includes the Freestone Lodge and the River Cabins. We strived to provide a number of distinct spaces for their families to enjoy, including a social space, retail, fitness, and a swimming pool with hot tubs. We also incorporated some back of house and storage needs.
Karen Herold: What I love about The Post is we were able to create this very comfortable mountain experience without incorporating the typical clichés we often see. We proved it doesn’t all have to be too rustic and uncomfortable. Our ceilings in the living room are comparatively low for normal mountain living rooms; creating a much more intimate feel.
I like that it’s super family friendly but not underestimated. The space has high-end furniture, making it feel, for me at least, very comfortable without having to become stuffy. It reminds me of my own personal style.
Tell us a little more about the scale of the building and how that shaped the spaces.
MM: The size of the facility was one of the largest challenges. We had many elements that we wanted to integrate into the space, and as the team started to put those elements together, we did not commit to anything unless we knew it would be great. The result is a fluid space that members can enjoy, while also integrating some non-Club features, such as a mailroom hub and a conference center for those who want to conduct business at the Ranch. There’s quite a bit of programming inside of a 7,000-square foot building.
KH: The scale of the building allowed us to create many more intimate spaces that don’t have to be big and tall. I really love how we created a building within a building, which then houses the conference room on top. That’s the hub that has a view room and everything circulates around that. The building is very open with no hallways, except for the one that goes by the pool and one side of that walkway is completely glass.
KH: From a design perspective, what we are doing is going back all the way to the core of the experience at the Ranch and what is it that makes people feel good when they’re on vacation; whether it’s in the summer or winter. We want to stay true to that feeling people want to experience and are feeling during those mountain retreats, but to find their own solutions for creating that experience. I think that the furniture pieces and even the colorway that a lot of other lodges use just become extremely masculine, large and oversized that, especially from a female perspective, are very uncomfortable.
The Post, on the other hand, has a very powdery, soft colorway, and I think the living room just became a very soft, inviting space that makes you feel good. We didn’t really address the typical cliché furniture pieces that come along with that.
MM: I’ll touch on the architecture of the building. Overall, we are trying to develop unique and functional structures at Victory Ranch while staying consistent with common threads of materials; as Karen likes to say: “we’re just changing around ratios.” We are still using woods, metals and stone, but applying these materials in different percentages. This strategy allows us to achieve a more forward thinking aesthetic. On the articulation of the building, one of its best features is that it points west from the rear view so our entire pool and outdoor experience is staring directly at Deer Valley. The views are stunning.
MM: With our targeted density of nearly 350 owners, and an average occupancy of 20%, we were very conscious of The Post’s sizing. We needed the building to feel comfortable and welcoming during light use as well as on the busier holiday weekends. Through this design, we are also able to accommodate proper club programming during the more active weekends. I think common mistakes made in other communities, as Karen was touching on, are that they build oversized facilities to accommodate full capacity but they feel empty during normal use. We took the opposite approach by properly sizing spaces for better member experience and operational efficiency.
Tell us about the materials and textures you’ve incorporated into the design of The Post.
KH: I see designing as the same as cooking. You start with ingredients. Hopefully those are good ones. Then you start measuring them in a way to create a layered flavor profile. The way we layered this is we didn’t want to change the world drastically. We didn’t want to make this design too complexed. We designed things over from experience. I don’t want anyone to come in and go like, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen such a thing.” We didn’t go for any of that. We wanted to stay understated and on the mountain modern side of things. We stayed with the very appropriate materials currently in mountain building, which is wood and steel. We just layered them in such a way that they were a little more appropriate for the Ranch and a little less loud, and then layered other elements on it to create more softness.
Remember Matt, when we decided to make the living room so low in the ceiling? That was a major change because the very normal thing to do is just put a big gabled roof in there. We never had a question about why are we going to use steel or do we do anything industrial. We just wanted to keep it modern without becoming cold.
KH: I think it’s like how someone’s home would be. By function, your master bedroom will have a different feel than your dining room. However, they’re all very clearly part of the same home, right? They’re not thematic. We used the same flooring and the same plaster finish throughout the building. The only reason why rooms feel different is because architecturally they’re so different.
Retail space is a two story height and this great conference room that looks over into it the same as across from it where the kids are hanging out.
The way I work typically is the higher the energy you want, like there’s the lobby and there’s a retail area where kids run in and out, that’s where there’s less upholstery. It’s a little higher energy so there’s more hard material, less soft material. When you get deeper into the place, toward the fireplace, where you want people to commit to stay, maybe, for an hour or longer, that’s where we go lower with the energy, so we’re adding actual lower furniture, we’re adding much more upholstery and the actual ceiling has dropped. All those are just to create different levels of energy.
How do you see The Post’s food and beverage component complementing the current dining options at Victory Ranch?
MM: While the Freestone Lodge remains the focal point for dining, we recognize that members want to have snacks and enjoy their time around the pool without drying off and having to wander over to the Lodge for a bite. We approached our designs for The Post from a very practical standpoint and spent a significant amount of time thinking about how people use each space at each facility. For example, we know the majority of people are going to be around the pool on the weekends, which is why we incorporated a functional outdoor kitchen by the pool.
We also thought about seasons and how people might use the space during different times of year – a burger and fries by the pool during the summer or hot chocolate and cookies by the fire during the winter. Also, a lot of what we do at Victory is a grab-and- go experience. At The Post we have drinks, candy, power bars and, of course, the now famous ice cream machine. Grab-and-go is convenient and helps retain our casual feel. For formal dining, guests can head over to the Freestone Lodge and the Golf Clubhouse, and The Barn will also have a restaurant.
The Post seems like an ideal setting for an afternoon cocktail or evening glass of wine while the kids play a board game.
MM: Absolutely. We have a full bar for cocktails and socializing. I envision members coming in to relax in the morning with a newspaper and a cup of coffee; during the middle of the day they may grab burgers around the pool with lemonade or a beer; and in the evenings they can enjoy charcuterie boards, wine and mingling with other members before dinner. The Post is a very functional amenity.
The living room offers a number of intimate spaces for people to interact and relax. How would you sum up the overall design approach to this space?
MM: When you have a large membership you want to have multiple areas for various people – whether it’s the kids, parents or grandparents – to relax and hang out. Varying age demographics was something we thought strongly about during the design process, and the family room achieves our vision. There is a kid’s area with a TV, board games and video games and also multiple seating areas for the adults. Ultimately, the living room accommodates these different groups, but also brings everyone together in one place to interact and have a great time.
The fish wall sculpture along the staircase, flies chandelier and wooden canoe are striking touches to the interior design. Tell us a little bit about how each of these pieces came to life.
MM: The canoe is a one of a kind piece. It is handmade and oversized and serves as an awesome piece of art. Karen loved it as well and made it work in the space. The fly chandelier is colorful and unique adding an essential pop of color to the retail space. Incorporating rustic pieces with a modern twist is what makes The Post and other Victory Ranch buildings so distinctive.
I put in a request for a special piece of art on that wall. Karen asked, “Do you want to highlight anything in particular?” I recall mentioning fish as an idea but never had anything cemented in my mind. She took my suggestion and ran with it. I couldn’t be happier with this playful piece of art.
Now that The Post is completed and members are using it, do you feel you’ve accomplished what you set out to achieve?
MM: Absolutely, and member feedback has been extremely positive. I am also excited to see the pool area during the summer as I believe it will be the most popular place on the property. Overall, as we review the outcome of The Post room by room, I am very proud of what we accomplished and am excited for all members to enjoy the space and use it as an extension of their home.