A design hothouse in the foothills of Alberta

Developer Ian MacGregor is building an enclave of modern architecture, and drawing from an international menu of top designers

A design hothouse in the foothills of alberta
The Rock House designed by Seattle-based James Cutler of Cutler Anderson Architects

A 750-square foot home in the foothills of Alberta is attracting international attention as an exemplary piece of architecture.

The Rock House was designed by Seattle-based James Cutler of Cutler Anderson Architects as the design benchmark in a unique new community, Carraig Ridge, located between Cochrane and Canmore. Its owner, Ian MacGregor – in fact, he owns the entire 650-acre development site – says it’s the realization of a lifelong ambition to establish a community of world-class modern architecture amid Alberta’s incredible natural landscape.

Mr. MacGregor, 68, who describes himself as “a guy who works in the oil business” is president and chief executive at North West Upgrading Inc., which is currently building a $25-billion refinery north of Edmonton. Carraig Ridge is the culmination of fifteen years spent acquiring $20-million worth of land around his family’s ranch.

“Initially I was buying land to save it from people dividing it into 40-acre chunks,” he explains. “This is the foothills and if you divide it like a checkerboard it really disturbs the topography. Ten years ago I decided that this place is so beautiful that it should be developed, we just needed to figure out a better way to do it.”

Over the next 10 years Mr. MacGregor would bring the world’s leading conservation planners to his site. Among them was Randall Arendt, who’s book Rural by Design: Maintaining Small Town Character is considered one of the most important texts in planning. Another was Dr. Christopher Alexander, one of the world’s leading design theorists. […]