House for a Structural Engineer

Los Altos, California

1 / 10 – Photo credit: Nic Lehoux
“This house for a structural engineer is located in an established Los Altos, California neighborhood. It is organized around a central reflecting pool and courtyard bound on three sides by tall glass walls. In addition to providing all of the engineering services, the clients were also vital design contributors.”



An exposed galvanized steel post and beam structure organizes the open volumes into more intimate spaces, defines interior circulation, and supports the timber rafters above. Expressive braced frames assembled from cruciform steel columns and delicate steel rods reinforce the perimeter glazing, maximizing framed views to the inner court.

Extensive use of wood and stone complements the modern design. An Ipe wood and steel slatted wall and trellis shade a bluestone entry path. The screen wall continues into the house, directing focus to the bluestone court beyond. Generous overhangs, supported by cantilevered Douglas fir rafters, shade the courtyard perimeter and frame the sky. Maple floors reflect warm natural light from floor to ceiling, while brightly colored niches provide a vibrant backdrop.

Passive and active environmental strategies create a comfortable and energy efficient home. Operable transom windows along the courtyard opposite low windows on the outside walls provide natural cross ventilation. Photovoltaic panels generate enough electricity to feed back into the grid, while radiant flooring produces efficient heating in the winter.

Thoughtfully detailed and carefully executed, the home is the result of an inspiring collaboration between owner and architect.

Project Data

Los Altos, California
2006 – 2008
3,500 SF


Merit Award
Notable Award, Live Category
Honor Award
Citation of Merit Award for Design