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To some of these critics, housing should look "Western." In the vernacular of Jackson Hole, a land of Lincoln Log homes, that seems to be wooden or at least stone, but not metal or anything else overtly synthetic.

The architect, Stephen Dynia, accuses critics of being frozen in "Disneyland, Jackson — the Frontier Land." He suggests the reality of Western architecture is something different than the myth – that needs for functionality have often directed use of corrugated metal, such as for grain silos and Quonset huts.

"It has something to do with place, and it’s based on usefulness," he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. "It’s not trying to look like an Arts and Crafts house during the turn of the century."

Cost is a part of function, and affordability is at the essence of the function of these units; they are selling for $196,000. "What is Western character?" asked one of the project’s residents, Mark Berry, who is executive director for the Center for the Arts. "If the town had imposed split-log siding and shake singles on that project, there is no way there could have been affordable housing in that development. In my mind, Western characteristic are born out of necessity, having materials that last a really long time, age well, and require little maintenance. Those are core Western values."

The project has attracted a large number of what is often called the cultural creatives, including one who was drawn by the design, as well as the aesthetics. "It’s built so that resources are efficient," said Amy Larinkin, an artist. "There are not a lot of wasted trees."

Big sales at Crested Butte

MT. CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — A major redevelopment project at the base of the Crested Butte ski area has been approved, and so the real estate sales have begun. They are impressive.

Some 89 units in a project called Mountaineer Square went under contract in a six-hour flurry during one Saturday in July. Sales of the units are ultimately expected to yield $80 million for the developers, Tim and Diane Mueller, who are owners of the ski area. The units range from studios to four-bedroom condos, with prices ranging from $325,000 to $1.9 million.

Meanwhile, home prices continue to escalate briskly at Crested Butte, substantially outstripping even the startling gains elsewhere in the nation. This continues the trend since the Muellers, with their deep pockets and lofty ambitions, purchased the ski area last year. The average sales price of single-family homes in the town of Crested Butte this year is $976,000, well more than double the $430,000 of two years ago. Down-valley in Gunnison, the increase has been far more subdued, with the average single-family home this year selling for $190,000, compared to $160,000 two years ago.

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