West End Neighborhood
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One of the most attractive features of Boise is how it sits in a valley, surrounded by the gorgeous foothills. Some of the most scenic views are enjoyed by occupants of Quail Ridge, the premier foothill community. Even from down in the valley looking up at the hills, the newest addition to the housing is difficult to miss. Completed in 2008, the house belonging to and designed by Darren Blaser, owner of the Boise chain of Jamaica Me Tan, is an absolute triumph of style and pure wonder. From afar, it is easy to be amazed by the pure magnitude of the Blaser house, yet upon close viewing, it becomes just how massive and beautiful the house truly is. The Blaser house is a staggering 12,000 square feet, complete with six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and several living room parlors. The exterior of the house is easily compared to a castle of sorts. A unique combination of stucco against rock bricks creates an image of contrast on the outside walls of the house. Tall, rock pillars countered by large patios and balconies create a different kind of contrast, one of vertical versus horizontal. Two towers highlight the exterior of the house. The front tower is rotund while the back tower is rectangular. Like the towers, the front windows are all rounded while those in the back are mainly rectangular, providing yet another level of contrast. Access to the interior of the house was not possible, yet through an interview with the owner/designer, a graphic description was obtained. The entryway of the Blaser mansion is accentuated by a seemingly endless ceiling, stretching to nearly the top of the massive house. The ceilings of the different rooms and hallways throughout the house are unique for their alternating domes and arches. One aspect of the interior Mr. Blaser seemed to take pride in was the presence of numerous unmatched angles in the ceilings. The Mr. Blaser also selected all of the internal accessories of his home, including light fixtures, flooring, and chandeliers. He said the style he most wanted to capture by the interior was Olde World European. To help achieve this he selected mainly natural floor elements such as hard-wood and stone. It is superficially clear that the Blaser home is one of many different styles. Mr. Blaser insisted that there was not one particular style he was wishing to achieve by the overall appearance of the house. His only goal was to create a house that flowed with the surrounding hills and had continuity yet wasn’t uniform, thus the symmetry of the presence of two towers and the differences between them. The stucco exterior and the overhanging roofs suggest a Spanish Eclectic style. When questioned about how he would describe the specific style, Mr. Blaser stated it was a combination of Southwest, Mediterranean, Olde World, and Arizona Style. Arizona Style is unique for many similar attributes of Spanish Eclectic, as well as a slightly contemporary feel, such the varying shapes from front to back in the Blaser home. One of the most impressive aspects of the Blaser house design is that it was created by the owner, a man who has no architectural or design education or experience. His only contact with the architectural world is the input he gave friends on their homes in Manhattan Beach, California. He attributes his talent for home designing to his “drive and strong passion for the art”. Darren Blaser is a business owner/entrepreneur who has obtained his wealth by investing in the tanning salon industry. There was a licensed architect working on the home as well but as Mr. Blaser stated, the architect was only there because “he had the technology to make it official”. All of the plans were drawn up by Mr. Blaser by hand. He said he, “…had a vision for a beautiful home that would flow perfectly yet would remain non-uniform.” Upon observation, he was smashingly successful. Upon pure, judgmental, superficiality, one would most likely see the Blaser home as a blatant flaunting of wealth and glamour. However, after interviewing Mr. Blaser, it is easily seen that there is much more to the home than meets the eye. The original plans for the house were intended for a five-acre plot in Eagle. The house was only intended to be about 4,000 square feet, a size far from glamour. However, Mr. Blaser settled on the foothills due to the sentimental value the location held for him. While being interviewed for this paper, Mr. Blaser told a story about how as a boy his father used to take him on walks through the foothills and used to sit with him and they would stare down on the city together. After placing an offer on his lot in Eagle, Mr. Blaser went on a walk in the foothills with his family and, upon seeing the same view he had enjoyed with his father, decided that it what he wanted his home to overlook. Often homes are purely taken at face value and not considered for the stories they contain. Although the Blaser house is brand new, it still manages to hold a history. With its combination of various styles and pure magnitude, the Blaser home is truly unique and a treasure of Boise.
Building submitted by Noah Archibald-Seiffer, Dennis Rusin, Gabe Shaw, Jordan Everhart-Meyer