Glass House at Bellevue

Glass House at Bellevue
Boulder, Colorado

Description
Main Home:  Significant remodel 6850 sf, 5 bedroom, 5 bath, main residence, includes a 1350 sf walk-out guest level covered with sod roofs over two guest suites below.

The main residence contains two studies, a home theater, exercise room, library and an attached 1010 sf oversized three-car tandem garage with a sod roof/landscaped rose garden, gazebo and outdoor grilling area above.  The main house is sheathed in native Lyons Buff stain-face flagstone, stucco and weathered Wyoming snow fence wood siding.  The glazing for the expansive window openings is Pilkington frame-less and mullion-less structural glazing.

Caretaker’s Home:  New Home 1500 sf, 1 bedroom, 2 bath single family residence with an attached 252 sf single car garage.  The Caretaker’s home is built to house a full-time resident to maintain the property and monitor all of the main home’s operating systems.  The home is sheathed in native Lyons Buff stain-face flagstone, stucco and weathered  Wyoming snow fence wood siding.

The location for these two homes is at the base of the world-famous Flatirons, adjacent to historic nationally landmarked Chautauqua and City of Boulder Open Space.  The main home embraces a historic picnic spot on a large outcropping of sandstone and creates a surrounding man-made pool, fed by a representational spring.  The house is an exercise in the edge relationship between the Rockies to the west and the Great Plains to the east.  Views are captured from the main level upwards to the western Flatirons above, and downwards to the east overlooking the City of Boulder, CU campus and farmland of Boulder County.  The master suite level opens directly onto an outdoor patio on grade that flows directly onto the Enchanted Mesa and City of Boulder Open Space.

Both homes are partially constructed with reclaimed materials from the previous residence that inhabited the site.  The main home and guest level are both heated and cooled by geo-exchange through the use of a radiant slab. Xcel Energy’s Windsource program provides electricity.

Design Goals
“Art and sculpture have a responsibility to future generations.” -Robert Henri

The Glass House at Bellevue breaks through the constraints of what is possible in livable sculpture.  As early retirees, the owners requested an inventive construction to blur the lines between man-made structure and the celebrated natural environment framing the 1.2 acre property.  In addition, the home accommodates the needs of mature residents, visiting family, and catered gatherings while maintaining energy efficiency.  The Glass House borders Boulder’s historic Chautauqua Park, founded in 1898, as a significant feature of the Rocky Mountain region.

In alignment with its owners’ vision, the Glass House is evocative of its dynamic setting at the intersection of the vertical plains of the Rocky Mountains and the horizontality of the Great Plains.  During an initial visit to the site McMullen witnessed a fierce mountain storm, which inspired him to capture the geologic and environmental momentum inherent in the unique Boulder Flatirons region.  The result:  frameless Pilkington triple-laminated, low-E structural glass walls soar outwards over two stories, providing a vertical momentum that echoes the towering rock formations.  At first impression there is no line distinguishing interior from exterior, an effect achieved by the innovative use of Pilkington or Frit-patterned glass along walls, ceilings and even flooring.  Inside, Honduran mahogany and copper-plated glass doors provide a warm atmosphere hearkening back to the pioneer era.  Residents are bathed in natural lighting throughout the home, guaranteeing a healthy living environment.  Responsible comfort is ensured through the use of a thermal exchange system that anticipates the slightest fluctuation in temperature.  Additionally, a future rainwater system nurtures the landscape in this high altitude dry climate.

The owners’ desire to host extended family and community gatherings influenced the compartmentalized layout of this four-story residence.  Mirror-image “pods” compose the ground floor, which is brightened from sunlight filtered through an art glass walkway on the main level.  Each living space opens directly out to the serene surroundings to foster intimacy with Boulder’s spectacular natural setting.  A second full-service kitchen is integrated into the outdoor patio for ease in catering summer events.  Linking all levels of the home is an unobtrusive elevator to provide for ease of circulation as the owners mature.  Due to an existing City of Boulder solar shadow ordinance, McMullen designed a unique sculptural massing complimented by low, sloping roofs.  Even with this limitation each level is nearly invisible from the next to evoke a solitude contradicting the proximity to downtown Boulder and the University of Colorado campus five minutes north.

In order to support local business, McMullen features native materials, such as Colorado sandstone and weathered snow fence.  Seamless transitions between inside and out are furthered through the incorporation of existing boulders.  These striking water features also serve to increase humidity in the notoriously arid environment.  The birds’ nest master suite is suspended above the entryway on representational “reeds,” completing the overall effect of a mountain aerie.  To enter the master suite the owners spiral upwards in a frameless glass stairwell suspended over the reflecting pool below.

This eye for integrating the purity of nature into the latest in smart building practices is characteristic of the architect.  The Glass House merges elegantly with the natural world, offering a meditative experience at every turn.  The owners echo this sentiment, stating that new intricacies in design are illuminated by changes in time of day, season and weather.  As stated in McMullen’s vision, in an age of architecture scattered indifferently on the landscape, buildings such as the Glass House that seemingly grow from their sites herald a rare aesthetic pleasure and environmental ethic.  Completed 2006.

© 2017 CREATE

Glass House YouTube video

Produced by Yellow Scene Magazine, this You Tube movie of the Glass House at Bellevue was a supplement to the July 2009 article entitled ‘The Glass House.’

Leland Creek Residence

Leland Creek Residence
Winter Park, Colorado

Description 6,500 sf, 5 bedroom, 5-½ bath residence includes a four car garage with multiple decks in several locations:  off the lower level family, main level great room, second level guest suite and third level ‘Whiskey Watchtower.’  The home is sided with recycled barn siding in two colors, grey and charcoal ‘shou sugi ban’, along with natural flagstone.   The home has stunning views down into Leland Creek and the valley, and distant views to the back side of the Vasquez ski runs at Winter Park Resort.

Design Goals
Creation of  a home that is intended to become a family legacy that is handed down from generation to generation.  A special family crest was created that is incorporated into bath and hot tub towels and adorns the raw metal fireplace slider at the Great Room.

Blur the distinction between inside and outside spaces in the high altitude location of Winter Park.  This blurring was accomplished through the use of exposed interior steel beams and columns and exposed exterior steel channels that are thermally broken to eliminate cold and energy transfer.  Also, oversized Fleetwood sliding glass doors were used in stackable and disappearing pocket formats to allow the Great Room, Dining and Kitchen to open up to the large main level outdoor deck.  These doors incorporated an interlocking stile that allowed elimination of a post at the corner for total openness.

Connection to historic architecture of Grand County.  Exposed steel, barnwood siding, exposed concrete slab floors and natural flagstone are used in the interior and exterior of the residence to create a timeless architecture that captures the time, place and essence of Grand County living.

This home was inducted on November 2nd, 2017 into Mountain View Window & Door’s Ring of Fame.

Client Quote  “We hosted a work party at the home and it was the perfect experience - especially with the great weather and the prime fall colors.  We are 100% satisfied with our home.  We still cannot believe how perfect it is.”

© 2017 CREATE

Crooked Pine Residence

Crooked Pine Residence
Boulder, Colorado

Description  5100 sf, 3 bedroom, 2-1/2 bath, single family residence constructed of native stain-face sandstone and synthetic stucco.  The home was designed and constructed for a lawyer and his wife, a physician, from Chicago.  Also part of the project are two outlying pavilions; one, a 204 sf exercise pavilion with sod roof, that houses fitness and workout equipment, and the second, a 420 sf shower pavilion with guest loft, bathroom, steam shower and adjoining outdoor spa.

Design Goals  As I see it, there is only one reason for the development of art in America, and that is that the people of America learn the means of expressing themselves in their own time and in their own land  -  Robert Henri, American Impressionist (1910).

This residence is an investigation into developing an architectural vocabulary called “organic impressionism” that expresses a truly “Western” architecture that define specific qualities, place and context.  This architecture was inspired by several factors.  The client met Frank Lloyd Wright after winning the Illinois State High School Architectural Competition.  This encounter created a desire on both the client and architect’s part to create a structure that used materials from the site, similar to Wright’s Fallingwater.  The geology of the site, with its eroding sandstone formation on the ridge above and subsequent rubble, inspired the fractile geometry of the floor plan.  The forms comprising the residence are inspired by memories of an earlier architecture, i.e. the Anasazi kiva, and the unique edge condition that exists at this site.  The site is located where the Great Plains meet the planes of the Rocky Mountains.

A second goal of the design was to minimize impact to the site and to views from the adjacent neighbors and US Highway 36.   The residence was dropped into the hillside to minimize the impact of its size, and colors and materials were selected to harmonize with the surrounding environment.  The 100-year old Crooked Pine tree was saved and made a feature point by sensitive placement of the main house. Native vegetation was re-introduced after construction.

Unique Architectural/Concept Features Stain-face sandstone blasted from the excavation of the site was re-laid in the exterior and interior walls of the main house and the exercise pavilion.  Commercial storefront and residential clad windows were used to provide two categories of views.  The commercial windows to provide the panoramic view to the plains and the residential windows to provide Zen views up the slope of the hillside.  Additionally the commercial storefront overhead glazing at the kitchen and dining blurs the distinction between inside and outside.

The materials in the main house and the pavilions were selected to create and blend with the context of the site.  Vibrant stucco textures and colors were selected to enhance the experience of daylight and changing sky coloring.  The use of rusted metal for the structural column at the entry and the hammered railings hearken back to the images of abandoned mining equipment from the 1800’s.  The shower pavilion is sheathed in 60 year-old Wyoming snow fence to blend with the bark coloring of adjacent trees and to provide the texture that only weathering can produce.  Inside the house, colored concrete radiant-heat floor slabs are used to evoke clay floors and root the residence to the earth.

Attention was paid to energy efficiency for the residence and the pavilions.  The structures are controlled by a “smart house technology” with the radiant-slab heating system and evaporative cooling system controlled by a computer brain that regulates temperature and humidity based on outside weather conditions.  Also, the outlying pavilions are separately zoned by the computer and can be completely shut down when not in use.

Spatial relationship in the main residence is created by allowing spaces to flow together.  Room volume is varied to provide different experiences with progression through the house and along the mountain.  The distinction between inside and outside is blurred by continuation of the stone and plaster walls from inside to outside.  Spatial form and volume also recall different contextual forms such as box canyons and the inclusion of a waterfall grotto at the transition between the private and public regions of the house.  Completed January 1995.

© 2017 CREATE

Foothills Residence

Foothills Residence
Boulder, Colorado

Description  New Home 4300 sf, 2 bedroom, 4-1/2 bath, single family residence with attached 820 sf oversized three car garage.  This home is wood frame construction covered with stone and stucco.  The home includes a 3rd floor home office with 360-degree views, and a kitchen, breakfast deck and master bedroom to the east overlooking the city lights in the evenings and sunrises in the morning.

Design Goals Located on a private mountain road in the foothills west of Boulder, Colorado, this 35 acre lot overlooks the Indian Peaks to the West, Bear Mountain and back of the first Flatiron to the South, and the cities of Boulder and Denver to the East.

The main design goal was to create a sense of place throughout the home.  Through a unique site feature, the site divided itself along a ridge between two distinct zones:  a very exposed and barren rocky area overlooking the cities of Boulder and Denver to the east down Sunshine Canyon, and a sheltered "wilderness" with distant view of the Indian Peaks to the west with close views of outcroppings to the north and south.  The home’s form is divided along this line by a spine wall.  The spine wall separates the master suite, and kitchen from the rest of the home allowing the roof forms for the kitchen and master suite to fly off towards the plains while the other roofs softly blend with the slope of the landscape. 

A secondary design goal was to create a spectacular home office reminiscent of a Forest Service fire lookout tower.  This 3rd floor office allows for views in every direction and helps shelter the entrance of the home.  Completed 1999.

© 2017 CREATE

Norwood Residence

Norwood Residence
Boulder, Colorado

Description  Extensive Renovation and Addition.  5900 sf, 4 bedrooms, 5 baths, with home office.  The lower level includes a home theatre, exercise and wine rooms.  Spectacular views over the entire Boulder Valley led our clients to purchase an outdated 1970’s ranch house on a bluff in North Boulder.

Design Goals  The challenge was to bring these views into the home, as well as enlarge it for an active family of four.  To accomplish these goals, dark paneled walls were eliminated, low ceilings raised, and emerald green shag carpeting removed.  The entire main level was transformed into a loft-like single room consisting of living, dining and kitchen areas.  The kitchen can be separated by shoji-like sliding doors made of aluminum honeycomb panels sandwiched between two sheets of translucent polycarbonate.

Large areas of glazing capture views of the plains to the east, and of the Flatirons and Mount Sanitas to the west.  To add to the cosmopolitan feel of the home, a subtle palette of natural birch cabinetry, stained concrete countertops, stainless steel appliances, glass tiles, bamboo flooring and pale April-sky-blue walls was used.

A new upper level was added, comprising the master bedroom, master bath and home office.  This new level allows the homeowners to peek into a beautifully landscaped back yard with a waterfall and pond that prior to the remodel, was visually removed from the interior of the home.  Skylights in the new stairways allow light from the upper level into both the main level and the lower level further uniting the various parts of the home into a timeless, serene whole.  Completed in 2001.

© 2017 CREATE

Piller Residence

Piller Residence
Hancock Park, Los Angeles, California

Description  Residential renovation and addition for the former producer and writer of the Star Trek television and film syndicate is located in the historic downtown Los Angeles historic neighborhood of Hancock Park.

Design  The original 1910 Tudor residence was lovingly restored and an addition including an extensive formal dining room and dining deck, game and media room, billiards room and pool bath/sauna were included at the rear of the home.

The entire backyard was transformed into a tropical paradise including landscaped gardens and fruit orchard, formal rose garden, bubbling stream and waterfall.  An organically shaped black-bottomed lap pool fed by Jacuzzi overflow further spills over an infinity wall into a catch pool.

Comprehensive site planning included the landscaping of the backyard to incorporate a jacuzzi, pool, spa, and reworking historic and meandering Longwood Creek as it passes through the property.  Completed in 1992.

© 2017 CREATE

Sunshine Canyon Residence

Sunshine Canyon Residence
Boulder, Colorado

Description  New Home 3700 sf, 2 bedroom, 2 bath single family residence with 950 sf of unfinished space to house 2 future bedrooms, 1 bath and entertainment room.  Structure is sheathed with different colors of synthetic stucco.  Residence was designed and constructed for a young couple building their first home on a limited budget.  The residence is located on a steep sloping mountainous site and required blasting to locate the house into the granite substrate.

Design Goals  “I believe in an ‘emotional architecture.’  It is very important for human kind that architecture should move by its beauty; if there are many equally valid technical solutions to a problem, the one which offers the user a message of beauty and emotion, that one is architecture.”  -  Luis Barragan.

The design of this residence was inspired by the client’s love of Mediterranean hillside architecture.  The question became how to build a ‘Mediterranean’ house in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.  The first design goal was the distillation of the uniqueness of Mediterranean architecture and its connection with the clients.  We were able to arrive at the following qualities that would influence the design:  use of vibrant contextual color, arrangement of planar surfaces and the creation of outdoor rooms, introduction of light from various sources and heights.

A second design goal was to minimize impact to the site and to views from the adjacent neighbors.  The residence was sited into the hillside to minimize the impact of its size, and colors and materials were selected to harmonize with the surrounding environment.  Windows were located to frame canyon and mountain views, including the Indian Peaks, and avoid direct views of neighbor’s homes.  Native vegetation was re-introduced after the disruption of construction.

A third design goal was to demonstrate a client’s limited budget need not compromise the quality of thought and design put into the residence, but should instead inspire.  The challenge was to provide a high level of design, finish and flexibility on a limited budget.  Completed June 1995.

© 2017 CREATE

Wonderland Hills Residence

Wonderland Hills Residence
Boulder, Colorado

Description  Remodel and Addition. 3821 sf, 3 bedroom, 3 bath with new entry, breakfast deck, dining deck, and upper level master suite addition.  As well as remodel of existing kitchen, living and dining rooms.  Residence is a 1970’s era custom home in the Wonderland Hills planned community.

Design Goal  To rescue a badly outdated home located in an idyllic setting in north Boulder.  The project consisted of the removal of interior partition walls and creation of a new Great Room containing kitchen, dining and living functions.  The kitchen counter doubles as a breakfast bar and gathering area.  The Master Suite contains a tub platform as a ‘bathing shrine’ with separation from the Master Bath by blue polycarbonate glazing.  The ‘Galley’ bathroom contains windows at the sink counter with views of the Flatirons to the west, and adjustable gilded ‘picture mirrors’ centered over each sink.  The Master Shower incorporates a mitered glass corner window that looks directly towards Boulder’s famed Flatiron formations.  Completed 1995.

© 2017 CREATE

Devil's Thumb Residence

Devil’s Thumb Residence
Boulder, Colorado

Description  The remodel of this existing residence for an internist and his spouse transformed an ordinary tri-level suburban Boulder residence into an expression of the couple’s love of Asian architecture.

Design Goals
Create a traditional Japanese entry sequence with entry bridge, bench for shoe removal, water feature, and privacy shoji for dining area/entry areas.  Corresponding oversize shoji covers oversized window with view to Flatirons from dining area.

Create meditative living room area with oversized ‘tatami’ mat feel.  This area functions as performance area for harp playing.  The wife plays harp as a therapy tool for terminally ill patients.  Completed 2001.

© 2017 CREATE