Elegant Desert Retreat Built on a Prefabricated Steel Frame

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Architects: Jim Jennings Architecture, LINEOFFICE Architecture, Martha Angus Interior Design
Project: Elegant Desert Retreat
Location: Palm Springs, United States
Lead Architects: Jim Jennings, Ross Hummel
Area 2800.0 ft2
Project Year 2016
Photographs: Lance Gerber
Text by LINEOFFICE Architecture

This collaboration with Jim Jennings Architecture and Martha Angus utilized a factory fabricated steel frame to create a simple yet elegant 3,000 SF getaway in the desert.

Elegant Desert Retreat Built on a Prefabricated Steel Frame 1

Jim Jennings invited our office to collaborate on this elegant desert retreat in Palm Springs, California. The project utilizes a steel building frame pioneered by Blue-Sky Building systems. This system utilizes factory fabricated steel components to create a bolted moment-resisting frame. The benefit of this is twofold: it increases the speed of construction and removes the need for lateral force (earthquake) resisting shear walls.

Elegant Desert Retreat Built on a Prefabricated Steel Frame

For this project on a corner lot the local planning codes limited the house to a single story. The client requested privacy from the street and an open rear yard. The plan answers these challenges by organizing the living spaces in relatively thin ‘bars’ along the two street side property lines. A singular concrete block wall rings the site. At the two street sides it rises to a few feet above eye-level but does not continue to the underside of the roof. This allows clerestory light in to the home at all sides but maintains privacy from the street.

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The side of the house facing the pool and rear yard, in contrast to the street side, is shielded from the street and completely open. Here large roof overhangs shade the floor to ceiling glazed windows and doors to allow light but protect from glare and excessive heat gain. From the main living spaces of the house the San Jacinto mountain range rising over 10,000 feet from the desert floor to the west is framed by the concrete block wall on the bottom and the roof overhang on the top.

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