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  Sparks Residence

Project Data: 3,103 sq. ft. new single family dwelling & 483 sq. ft. carport
Location: Lake Almanor, California
Description: Provide a lakeside mountain retreat for a young San Francisco couple not looking for the ubiquitous "bear, fish, moose motif". Economically address inherent site challenges including a 30 degree down-slopping volcanic tuft, two access easements traversing the property, a 100 lb/sq. ft. snow load, a 100' wide x 215' deep property with a 115' drop, and a continuous 35 ft. height limit. Take full advantage of the magnificent lakefront vista of Mt. Lassen (volcanic peak at the southern tip of the Cascade Mtn. range) across Lake Almanor.

The introduction of CMU towers, steel beams and floating horizontal planes, allows the residence to economically cascade down the steep slope as opposed to destructive typical wall based construction. Cantilevered trays of space tie the towers together and permit the residence to anchor itself to the steep hillside. Conversely, thrust the living area, bedrooms, and lakeside decks out over the lake. Simple, yet elegant, zoning of service/structural sandblasted towers, glass and cement panel infill walls, and spanning steel beams define the minimal separation from the natural environment. Comer glass further enhances the indoor/outdoor fusion. Clear expression of the building material's inherent qualities, natural light, and structural purity facilitates the use of this retreat as Mother Nature's lens. Basic passive solar and sustainable design elements chip away at the irresponsible design of the past. Ground source geo-exchange hydronic floor heating and exposed CMU towers provide an abundance of thermal mass, particularly in the low sun angle winter months. Operable skylights at the top of the CMU stairwell tower supply an age-old passive "stack-effect", similar to the adjacent mountainside, during the few warm summer weeks. A living-green roof above the main living area creates an intimate foreground for the entry and the only mentionable yard on a 30 degree slope. Cumulatively each of the aforementioned elements lends themselves to establishing an observation nest elegantly suspended between towers on the steep shoreline of Lake Almanor.

Project Team:
Joel L. Sherman
J.L.S. Design

Pete Crocker
Crocker Construction

Structural Engineer:
Tim Kenneally
Gabbart + Woods Structural Engineers

Clement Woods
Woods Energy Consultants

Models / Drawings: