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Awards Category

Residential Architecture - Built

Project Summary

A luxuriant forest of Jeffrey and sugar pine mixed with white and red fir covers this 2-acre site at roughly 6,400 feet above sea level in the Martis Valley near the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Gently sloped, the site falls toward the south with views to the Northstar ski resort. The simple rectangular plan is placed to minimize impact on the site, leaving a three-dimensional screen of more than one hundred 60-90 foot tall trees surrounding it.

Project Narrative

Materiality and fenestration are ordered as dark light reversals that repeat the behavior of the forest. A concealed, directional entry builds time into the arrival sequence, extending and connecting the experience to the environment. Translucent green glass screens bathe the entrance in color that associates with the tone of the surrounding evergreen forest. Inside, continuous south-facing sliding glass opens the living area to a covered deck that hovers above the ground. Materials throughout the house include cut granite stone floors, unfinished reclaimed teak ceilings and floors, board-formed concrete, and white gypsum. Continuous recesses in the ceilings conceal light fixtures and fire sprinklers. Three-dimensional skylights wrap from the roof down the wall, allowing light to pour in and offering views to the stars at night. An ebonized steel rainscreen built of three inch by three inch angles, spaced one inch apart repeats the texture and function of the bark of adjacent trees, protecting the vulnerable wood-framed portions of the house from wildfire like a large spark arrestor. The elongated south-facing rectangle collects solar energy in winter. The 4,500-square-foot, four-bedroom house is fitted with radiant heat as well as enhanced glazing, mechanical electrical equipment, and insulation. Low maintenance contributes to sustainability.

Sustainable Design & Materials

Many of our projects are in the forest and solar panels are difficult in an alpine environment due to snow cover. We do not always use active energy making systems but rather use sustainable features like the radiant floor, which uses less energy than a forced air system. Concrete is utilized for mass along with enhanced insulation and glazing to stabilize the interior environment. We build houses that do not require maintenance, that is a part of sustainability. This house is concrete and steel with unfinished reclaimed teak ceilings which gives off the aroma of the wood.

Project Stats

Square Feet


Green Building Designation(s)

Date of Completion

December 2019

Project Location

10915 Almendral Ct, Truckee, CA 96161, USA

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