Photo © Steve Mundinger

House in the Mountains


Colorado Rocky Mountains

Gluck+ has partially buried a house in Colorado to preserve the view and save on energy use.

By Suzanne Stephens

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Houses embedded in the earth are becoming a specialty of Gluck+, the New York architect-led design-build firm formerly known as Peter Gluck and Partners. The reasons are compelling–the grass roofs reduce energy loads and their low profile doesn't impinge on the natural landscape. In the case of a 2,850-square-foot guesthouse in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the clients, for whom Gluck had designed a main house on the site in 2004, wanted a separate structure to be located on property to the south between a creek and an access road. But they didn't want it to interfere with the splendid mountain vista they had from the main house. “So many views are destroyed by plunking buildings on top of the land,” says Gluck.

The architects configured the guesthouse as two rectilinear steel-framed bars that intersect; the primary one contains open living and dining spaces, with a roof gradually rising to the south at a 20-degree angle. The volume seems to collide with and lift over a rectilinear structure running east–west on a diagonal, which contains three bedrooms and the garage. A wall of solar panels on the south elevation of the bedroom wing supplies heat for the house and swimming pool.

The living and dining areas, anchored by a bluestone fireplace wall on the north, open out through glazed doors to the pool on the east and a private, sunken, triangular courtyard on the west. Cor-Ten clads the courtyard's slanted retaining wall, into which an outdoor fireplace is carved. Just beneath the Cor-Ten fascia of the house's roofs, clerestories frame panoramic views of the mountains. “It's become more than a guesthouse,” says Gluck. “It's a communal space for the family.”

Completion Date: February 2012

Gross Square Footage: 2,850 SF

Location: Colorado Rocky Mountains

Architecture and Construction:
423 West 127th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10027

August 2013
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