Back in August we embarked on a hugely exciting project, a large-scale renovation of two spaces in the heart of the village to create a new restaurant (Alto Kitchen & Bar) and coffee shop (Fireside Café).If it takes a village to run a ski resort, it takes a mountain of talented and passionate people to undertake an immense renovation in a building nearly 40 years old, in the middle of the mountains.
With our beautiful new establishments now open, we are looking back behind the scenes to meet the visionaries and experts involved and discover the passion behind this impressive renovation.In our conversation with Kristen Lien, we learn of the design process, its importance, and how these new establishments transformed into the comfortable, homey, yet elegant, community hubs they are today.
Projects like this start with a vision. A laundry list of ideas whittled into a concept, mood boards, sketches and plans. Undertaking the major renovation of two spaces, on a tight timeframe, in the mountains and in a building nearly 40 years old, required a very special team to bring this vision to life.
For Kristen Lien and the team at FRANK Architecture, it was a no brainer to say yes when approached by Panorama’s CEO to envision and lead the design of Alto Kitchen & Bar and the Fireside Café, the first steps in a major renovation of the Pine Inn building. If you’re thinking that the fun factor of working on a challenging project with an incredibly tight timeline is what drew Kristen in, well you’d be wrong. With a family cabin in Invermere and many, many days spent on our slopes, this was a passion project for Kristen and one the FRANK team couldn’t turn down.
As one of the founders of FRANK, a Calgary based, award winning design firm, Kristen really is no stranger to tackling interesting kinds of renovation projects: “Clients come to us for our interior expertise but also for the fact that we have the capabilities to handle really big projects because we are Registered Architects.”
But the vision wasn’t just driven by Kristen and her designers. “The best processes involve everyone on the team,” Kristen remarked when we sat down with here at the resort in late September. “Everyone brings a different perspective to design, functionality, how the space is going to flow, all of the details.” There was involvement from the board members, Panorama Food and Beverage staff, and contracting company.
There are so many integral elements in a successful renovation, one of which is hammering out a strong design concept. The sketches, mood boards and plans are where it all starts, and it takes time. But once the concept has its roots, the execution stage can begin.
The project went through 3 major design revisions. The overall concept for Alto was to create this local gathering spot that feels like a home away from home. It offers great, shareable food. Pizzas, bottles of wine, and an atmosphere of comfort, “It’s meant to be a community hub, and a place to dine that everyone wants to be at.”
To create that atmosphere, the restaurant presents a natural feel with its décor and with its design. There are little details in the lighting and chording that embody a mountaineering touch, exposed steel detailing on the bars, and stone with a rough-cut edge countertop. There is a natural feel and the layout centers around a fireplace. This design ties in a lot of important history to the Purcell region. Conrad Kain was a mountaineering guide for nearly 30 years and is well known for his mountain exploration and first ascents in this region.
Kristen specified that the space was not meant to be an ode to Conrad Kain, “but rather tie in little bits of nostalgia and history of the explorative mountain culture”. The goal is to create a place that feels like home, and a place you feel like you belong.
The Fireside Cafe has a much different feel. It is brighter, fresh, and fun, which allows it to transform from a coffee shop during the day, to an après ski hub on Friday and Saturday evenings, serving up loaded charcuterie boards, a revolving wine list and handmade macarons.
Much like Richard Haworth and the construction team, Kristen highlighted the challenges of a 5000lb pizza oven and getting to a remote location. But, acknowledging and managing expectations is a major part of a smooth process, “We always explain to the client that we try our best to forecast what challenges we will face during construction but that we don’t have x-ray goggles. Renovations can be very challenging. Panorama’s executive team was very focused on keeping the ‘grand vision’ in their minds all the way through the project .”
When all is said and done “Guests can expect a restaurant and coffee shop that are of world class quality, matching Panorama’s world class terrain”.
Now that the sawdust has settled, the best part for Kristen is that she and her family get to experience these gorgeous new spaces themselves. She looks forward to seeing the space becoming a staple experience touchpoint of the resort experience. Seeing restaurants in full swing and busy with a great vibe to Kristen “means that the project was worth it.”
With new spaces come new menus and that’s a whole other passion project in itself. Next up, we’ll sit down with the visionary behind the food itself, Executive Chef Vincent Stufano to find out more about the long days crafting mouthwatering menus and how the mountains influence his vision for Panorama’s culinary scene.
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