Shelter Design Architecture Adds a Wellness Annex to Troutbeck Hotel in Amenia, New York

The volumes, one for fitness, the other a spa, are roofed in standing-seam aluminum and clad in larch reclaimed from a dismantled 1950s Hudson River bridge. Photography by Nicole Franzen.

“What drove me to start out on my own was 2016,” architect Jennifer Preston says dryly. “It marked an important internal shift for me as a woman in architecture.” She opened Shelter Design Architecture that same year and shortly after convinced Pedro Marmolejos, a former colleague at BKSK Architects, to come on as co-principal. Now a four-person team, they work remotely (and did so long before COVID-19), Marmolejos out of New York City and Preston in Vermont.

Shelter principals Pedro Marmolejos and Jennifer Preston. Photography by Nicole Franzen.

A wellness annex to Troutbeck—an Upstate New York hotel owned by Anthony Champalimaud, son of Interior Design Hall of Famer Alexandra—proved to be a project “encapsulating everything we stand for,” Preston
discloses. The bucolic site already had a wedding barn. Shelter added two similar structures—one taller, one
longer, totaling 4,800 square feet and joined by a covered breezeway—to house fitness and spa amenities. The interiors of the chapel-like volumes shift in scale and modulate in affect depending on function. Echoes of timeless sanctums, from forest bathhouses and pegboard-lined workshops to front porches and historic churches, abound. In the horizontally oriented Long Barn, locker rooms, treatment facilities, and saunas are hunkered down, almost monastic in feel, while a 23-foot rafted ceiling and copious glazing make the movement studio occupying the Tall Barn open and airy. The palette was kept intentionally subdued and natural: quartzite, plywood, whitewashed oak, spruce, reclaimed larch. “We are averse to fake materials,” Preston notes. “The project doesn’t overcomplicate itself,” Marmolejos adds. “It sits in the context quietly, without grandiosity or ego.”

The Tall Barn is entirely occupied by a movement studio with a 23-foot cathedral ceiling. Photography by Nicole Franzen.
Spruce lines the sauna in the Long Barn. Photography by Nicole Franzen.
Lockers are fronted in plywood pegboard. Photography by Nicole Franzen.
Local quartzite tops bathroom vanities. Photography by Nicole Franzen.
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