William Wilson Wurster was the most "influential unknown architect in California." He designed many houses and buildings such as Ghirardelli Square, Cowell College at UC Santa Cruz, as well as other U.C. and Stanford University buildings. Wurster Hall at U.C. Be(r)keley in named for him.
Wurster believed in simple, climate suited designs that were understated. He wanted buildings that fit and took advantage of the environment or even seemed to grow from it. He could, as his wife said, make a $80,000 house seem like a $10,000 house with unostentatious simple design. That's what he accomplished with the Lodge at Sugar Bowl.
Take a look at the lodge. The back side nestles among the trees while the open front faces the mountain it serves. This exposes the life in the lodge to the mountain view, the center of skiing activity, and the sun. The design takes into account Summit snowfalls of 35-40 feet a year and drifts as high as 20 feet. The lodge sits off the ground and the roof sheds to the back. Large overhangs shelter balconies. The exterior is simple and unpretentious. The simple design lets the grandeur around the lodge be the focus rather than the lodge itself.
Pictured right is the lodge in 1939 and before expansion. The middle picture shows the lower terminal of the first chair lift. As snows deepened, the motor would move up the ramp.
A Good Story
A number of movies have been done on Donner Summit and a couple of those have been done at Sugar Bowl. "A Two Faced Woman," staring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas was one featuring Sugar Bowl and the lodge along with some amazing comedic skiing. A second starring Goofie, "The Art of Skiing," also featured a cameo by the lodge as well as some amazing skiing that you should not try on your own. Both are still available today on the internet.
Things to do right here
There are a lot of things to do here besides have a meal or drink in the restaurant or bar or before you come into the lodge for a refreshment. Roller Pass sits above the lodge and was the entry way for wagon trains. A little higher is Mr. Lincoln. a wonderful hike is the Judah Loop, which takes off from the Pacific Crest Trail and conquers Mt. Judah. The views are spectacular. More ambitious people can even hike from Donner Summit to Squaw Valley along the Pacific Crest Trail. (15 miles).