Mountain Architecture


Mountains!  The beauty, the skiing, hiking, blue lakes, the solitude.  The minus 30 wind chills…  We love alpine environments, but we also want to come back from a hike and be cozy.  Whether it’s a fireplace, hot toddy, down jacket, or a good pair of gloves, nothing beats staying warm in the mountains.

Oddly, this relates directly to the built environment.  Your home should have a down jacket.  Your office should have a nice warm heating system.  The ski lodge should have dry windows.  Sitting by the windows should not be a cold experience.  Lake Tahoe architects design some of the most inspired mountain architecture in the world, evidenced by hundreds of publications and awards.  We know how important it is to integrate our work with your architecture.  We want to be part of your next award!

From our perspective, it seems insulation and heating system integration are considered necessary evils in modern construction, even among “green” styles.  It takes more than finding a good furnace or good windows- it takes calculated thought to really determine where to put your money, and how to get the most from your systems.  We calculate how to most efficiently keep out the cold, and keep out the utility bills, within your budget.  We’ll show you the numbers.

A few good practices:  We design louver systems that keep out the snow.  We keep roof glaciers from crushing your chimneys and pipes.  We integrate active and passive solar collection, because mountains also have some of the clearest skies on earth.  From our Tahoe, Colorado and Montana experience, we know which solar collectors and wind turbines can support feet of snow and 70mph winds.

We even cross the line into architecture somewhat- We help design ventilated roofing assemblies that minimize ice dams and condensation, maximize surface lifespan, and maximize building thermal control.  Since roofing systems ultimately are massive solar collectors and heat-transfer devices, this fits into engineering thermodynamics.

You can avoid heated roof edges, and other energy-wasting devices.  Did you know:  Heated roof edges use anywhere from 10-60 Watts per linear foot! This is a massive waste of energy, and a smarter, better roof could pay for itself in a couple of years or less.  The architect ultimately must design and integrate the roof- but we are a great envelope, snow and ice consultant.