Stella House

2018 Residential Citation Award

Baron Herschberger

Two professionals and their daughter requested a modern, economical live work space on an existing, small, infill lot close to downtown Reno. Year-round energy efficiency and comfort were important as well as convenient access to the gardens and mountain views. A small, well planned house was preferable to a large one. Contemporary aesthetics with low maintenance, preferably locally sourced materials and honesty of material expression were also important considerations.

These objectives were achieved in just under 1500 square feet for under $200 per foot construction cost. The two-story structure has a work area downstairs, and high ceiling living area on the second level with a large second level deck accessed by large south facing glass doors allowing for sweeping views of the Sierra and Mt. Rose Ski Resort.

The front yard is designed as a ‘food forest’ with a sinuous path through the edible herbs and fruit trees. The rear yard is made as a recreation area with grass ground cover and shade trellis supporting the honeysuckle, wisteria vines, and a swinging bench.

The lower level of the house is walled with locally manufactured stack bond, sand blasted, concrete block masonry, polished concrete floors, and floor-to-ceiling energy efficient glazing with clear anodized aluminum frames. The program on the lower level is a home office and garage. A roll-up glass door opens the home office into the rear garden, trellis and swinging bench area. Hydronic in-floor heat is provided throughout both levels, including in the garage/shop with separate controls.

The upper exterior siding is local, rough sawn cedar, char blackened and protected with oil stain. The wood siding is a nod to the many similarly cladded barns and buildings found on the nearby ranches. The roofing, is made of corrugated galvalum panels. This also is a common material of the local ranch buildings. The simplicity of the roof form made its construction cost effective and very efficient to build.

The oversize deck is located on the south side of the house and accessed by the large roll-up glass door or a glass ‘man- door’. The intense summer sun is blocked from the south windows by an array of photovoltaic panels that double as shade canopy. The lower angle of the winter sun bathes the living room in light and heat in the winter months. The deck area being as large as the living area is used year-round for entertaining, relaxing and star gazing.