Honored for her creative sensitivity and technical acumen, Ashley Sullivan, design principal and managing director of JLF Architects, recently earned a 2020 Women in Architecture Award from Mountain Living.

Top Women in Architecture

(All photos by Audrey Hall) 

Featured in the August issue of the magazine, she was one of eight winners of this inaugural award, praised for her “place-based architecture and design sensitivity” and creating “magnificent and magical places.”

Sullivan was recognized for innovative residential design such as this Wyoming waterfront house. 

“We transform our clients’ vision into a physical space that’s sacred to them,” Sullivan tells Mountain Living.

Sullivan brings a distinct depth of knowledge to her architectural design, from her college days at Auburn University to the present. Sullivan was first struck by the ability of architecture to change lives while working with Professor Samuel Mockbee at Auburn’s legendary Rural Studio. The off-campus design-build program, part of the university’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, assists under-resourced communities of West Alabama’s Black Belt.

Set on the California coast Casa de los Peregrinos is a house that expresses the owners’ love of travel, family and faith. It includes reclaimed artifacts, sculpture and a private chapel in the courtyard.

“The project I worked on was a family’s first home with indoor plumbing,” she recalls. “I saw the impact of my profession firsthand.” The experience also taught her to love the hands-on craft of building, from swinging a hammer to pouring concrete, a passion that serves her well in JLF’s own design-build ethos of honest materials and artisanal craftsmanship.

Sullivan’s experience with hands on design-build practices facilitated the engineering necessary to imagine a three-story light sculpture wrapped by a stone spiral staircase.

Sullivan’s design work on this Tennessee Hidden Lake House again marries structure and nature to create a remarkable year-round waterfront experience (photo: Audrey Hall).

But “creating dynamic spaces has always been a part of my life,” Sullivan says. As a child, she built “magical spaces” in the woods around her family’s homes in Connecticut and Tennessee, and, as Mountain Living suggests, she’s “still creating magnificent and magical places.”

One of those places is the dramatic Hidden Lake House in Tennessee, where maximizing the location of the house with the abundance of water at the site facilitated a “floating pagoda” style that links the built and natural environs. Pitched roofs of Corten steel hover over the stacked limestone and reclaimed timber walls. Constructed on a private lake, the house was the realization of a lifelong dream for the homeowner and earned JLF a feature in Architectural Digest.

In this elegant mountain home Sullivan combined traditional European influences such as arches and vaulted ceilings to contrast reclaimed oak floors, hand-hewn beams and weathered barn wood.

Award-winner Sullivan was an integral part of the design of High Meadow House in Jackson Hole, which earned JLF Architects the Home of the Year award from Mountain Living in 2016.

Another Sullivan project, High Meadow House, an award-winning rustic-yet-refined hybrid of urban and Western influences, pairs ageless materials – timber, stone and Corten steel – with luminous contemporary elements, while reclaimed antique log walls and stacked stone nod to regional history. Situated on a Jackson Hole butte with commanding Teton Mountain views, the homestead feels synonymous with place, artfully scaled as a series of buildings that step down the hillside, appearing to grow out of the landscape.

Recognized for her talent in designing houses that are equal parts timeless and innovative, Sullivan connects with people as much as she does place. Her designs pepper the Mountain West as well as both coasts. She is currently working on projects in Vermont and North Carolina.

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