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Awards Category

Unbuilt Architecture

Project Summary

Sitting at an elevation of 2,995 feet with panoramic views of the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding foothills, M20 is a private residence nestled in the arid, yet vibrant, Mojave Desert. Inspired by and rooted in this rugged landscape, the design seeks to create sculptural and experiential spaces without compromising orthogonal efficiency. Beginning with a rectangular mass, the program was split and rotated to create a sheltered, interior courtyard that captures the beauty of the site’s native vegetation while affording access to views, natural light, and airflow to each of primary living spaces. Long and low-slung, the roofline mimics the horizontality of the surrounding desert plateaus, extending outward to create a protective canopy for the deeply recessed fenestration. Angular and bold, with battered walls, chamfered detailing, and sharp edges in section, the structure reflects the dynamic and jagged sandstone rock formations characteristic of the region.

Project Narrative

Internally focused and inspired by the roughhewn desert landscape, this private residence located on the outskirts of the Las Vegas Valley is a dichotomy with a stoic and seemingly impenetrable façade that gives way to a transparent and ethereal interior. Designed to create sculptural and experiential spaces without compromising orthogonal efficiency, the structure features battered walls and sharply angled detailing evocative of the iconic slot canyons throughout the region. Programmatically organized around a central courtyard, natural light spills into the living spaces through a series fully glazed, operable walls. Native desert plantings within the courtyard reinforce the connection between occupant and the land. Seeking to embody not impede the site’s natural beauty, the design uses massing and materials sympathetic to the environment to blend the structure with the land thereby maintaining the site’s organic character. Deeply set fenestrations are shrouded by exaggerated roof overhangs and chamfered detailing to provide protected access to views, light, and airflow. Operable walls of glass remove the boundaries separating indoors and out allowing occupants to feel embedded within the natural environment while reducing or eliminating the need for artificial lighting and cooling. The sandy-toned, limestone façade is compatible with the surrounding desert and is accentuated by intrusions of COR-TEN steel reflective of the rust hued sandstone formations of the adjacent Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Battered walls carry through to the interior from the façade compressing and expanding the spatial perception while establishing a dynamic sense of movement. Transparent halls and pocket gardens allow the desert to permeate the interior while creating a more thermally stable space and a deeper connection to the site. A study in spatial efficiency, every room is carefully calibrated to maximize usable space, with hidden storage solutions and clever built-ins to achieve a minimalist aesthetic without sacrificing functionality. The interior material palette is equally curated and restrained with polished concrete flooring, natural wood, and tactile textured surfaces throughout.

Sustainable Design & Materials

Contextual Integrity: With a deep appreciation and respect for the site, our design seeks to be unobtrusive in its aesthetic and its impact. Inspired by the tones and textures of the landscape, the façade presents as a monolith of stone punctuated with burnished hues of CORTEN steel. Intentionally simplistic and robust, the exterior cladding will hold its own against the punishing desert sun, becoming increasingly rich over time. Passive Design: Cognizant of the critical importance of a climate-appropriate design, M20 is elegant in its responsiveness. Sited to allow for passive heating and cooling, this private home utilizes thermal massing and harnesses prevailing winds. The stone cladding system features an air cavity for ventilation and greater thermal performance and is paired with high R value insulation to further minimize heat transfer and thermal bridging. Arid Environmental Response: Designed within the context of a historic megadrought that has plagued the region for the last 23 years, water conservation is paramount. Low flow fixtures are used throughout with a whole-home water filtering and conditioning system which reclaims water for landscape uses. Outdoor water consumption is minimized using native and adapted regional vegetation, and is coupled with light, pervious hardscapes for stormwater management.

Project Stats

Square Feet


Green Building Designation(s)

Date of Completion

Expected Completion August 2024

Project Location

Las Vegas, NV, USA

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