Larry Yaw – Creating a Sense of Place in the New West


Architect Larry Yaw

Larry Yaw is a renowned architect based in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley whose work connects people with nature using contemporary, sustainable, conservation-focused designs. Growing up in rural Montana gave Larry a deep appreciation for the utilitarian character of ranch homes and their thoughtful integration into the landscape, aspects that form the foundation of much of his work today.  Through his design, Larry has demonstrated a unique ability to pay homage to the past while boldly pushing beyond preconceived notions of architecture in the American West.

If I had to use one word to describe Larry it would probably be “adventurous”—a quest for adventure seems to guide all aspects of his professional and personal lives.  As you’ll hear in our conversation, Larry has traveled the world many times over, sometimes with his full family in tow, seeking out enriching experiences everywhere from the South Pacific to the Swiss Alps. He is also intellectually adventurous, as evidenced by his deep knowledge of history, conservation, Native Americans, and many other subjects related to the West and beyond.  Physical adventures are a daily occurrence for Larry, whether it’s pedaling single track, stalking trout with his fly rod, hiking in the high mountains around Aspen, or shooting birds on the Montana prairies. All of these experiences provide the fuel that keeps Larry’s professional creative engine firing at turbo speed, decade after decade.

This was a super-fun conversation, and I came away from it inspired and enlightened.  We discussed a broad range of topics including Larry’s architecture, his creative process, and how he has managed to stay consistently creative for so long. We chatted about his early years in Montana, some of his adventures around the world, and his thoughts on conservation in the American West.  Larry is a true student of the West, so he had plenty of book recommendations. There is a lot of great information in this interview, so don’t forget to check the episode notes for links to everything we discuss.

Photo courtesy of Larry Yaw

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Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:45 – How Larry describes his work
3:40 – Larry describes his architecture
5:00 – Montana’s influence on Larry’s work
7:20 – Early years in Montana and Florida
9:00 – College years and path to graduate school
13:25 – Post-grad school early career
15:15 – Decision to move back West
16:30 – Origins of Larry’s adventurous outlook
22:00 – International travel’s influence on his work
23:55 – Around the world family trip
25:05 – Adventures on Aconcagua
26:22 – Cultural influences of travel
27:10 – Rugged individualism versus community
29:00 – Design for an active, mountain-inspired lifestyle
30:20 – Process versus goals
32:45 – His creative process
34:40 – Evolution of Larry’s work
36:30 – Thoughts on conservation
38:30 – Interactions with Native Americans
41:00 – Sustainability and design
42:30 – Interactions with the Blackfeet Tribe
46:30 – “Once Proud” painting series
48:30 – Recommended books on Native Americans
51:15 – Larry’s favorite books
55:20 – Favorite documentaries
56:50 – Favorite outdoor and artistic activities
1:01:25 – Craziest outdoor experience
1:04:00 – Favorite location in the West
1:06:45 – Biggest challenge/opportunity facing the West
1:08:55 – Advice to his younger self
1:12:10 – Larry’s request to the listeners
1:13:50 – Connect with Larry online


One Comment on “Larry Yaw – Creating a Sense of Place in the New West

  1. A fascinating interview, Ed. Great stuff!
    And I’m glad you enjoy Hampton Sides as much as I do.

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