Capped by a protective steel mesh screen, tresARCA house is built for indoor/outdoor living.There are two ways to live with Las Vegas’ harsh climate. The first, epitomized by the hermetically-sealed tract houses ringing the Strip, rejects the reality of the desert in favor of air conditioning and architecture evoking far-off places. The second strategy embraces the environment for what it is, and looks to the natural world for cues about how to adapt. In their tresARCA house, assemblageSTUDIO took the latter approach. Glass and granite punctuated by a folded steel screen surrounding the second-floor bedrooms, tresARCA’s facade is a meditation on the resilience of the desert landscape. “The mesh screen idea came from looking at various shadow patterns in the desert and the idea of the cracked desert floor,” said principal Eric Strain. On a practical level, the screen catches heat before it reaches the bedrooms, allowing daylight to filter in without raising the interior temperature. Aesthetically, “the idea was that the home sits at the base of the Red Rock Mountains, the background scenery is the stratification and the layering of the Red Rock Mountains,” said Strain. “To not copy, but [to] suggest that layering is where the folding nature [of the screen] came from.” JD Stairs fabricated the screen using mesh from The Western Group. The company, which provided the home’s other non-structural steel components, including fencing and the vault-like front door, was tapped for the job partway through the design process. Having never built something of this scale, they staged several full-scale mockups, at one point renting a parking lot to lay out the entire structure. The screen floats an average of 1 foot 6 inches away from the bedroom walls. At each of the screen’s nodes—points where multiple panels intersect—adjacent panels are bolted in pairs around 3/8-inch plate steel fins, which in turn are connected to 3 ½-inch-diameter steel pipes extending from the wall. The result, in which triangular panels of mesh fit together to form diamond-pointed projections of varying sizes, resembles an abstracted rock outcropping, a geometric transition between earth and sky. The remainder of the facade is clad in granite, by Tuscany Collection, and glass, by Fleetwood Windows & Doors and Sawbuck Design. Fully retractable doors open all of tresARCA’s public spaces to the outdoors, where the house’s blocky massing creates protective crevices of shade and cool air. The language of layering and natural textures extends from the exterior to the interior walls, which feature blackened steel panels and Shou Sugi wood, among other materials. tresARCA’s challenge to the conventional division between indoors and out is particularly potent in the Nevada desert. Where others see a choice between sealing themselves inside or moving somewhere else, assemblageSTUDIO sought a third way, said Strain. “We tried to convince people that you can live outside in Las Vegas when it’s still 110.”
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Sliding blackened steel walls create functional space in an art collector's loft.When Philadelphia-based Amuneal Manufacturing Corp. won a bid to fabricate a set of large movable residential walls designed by New York-based Elmslie Osler Architect (EOA), they had a lot of experience to draw on. As experts in the field of magnetic shielding, they work routinely for aerospace and scientific research industries, while the company’s custom fabrication branch handles everything from retail fixtures to large-scale public art installations. For EOA’s project, a gut renovation of a 2,200-square-foot Soho loft, Amuneal began with the architects’ drawings of large sliding doors needed to reveal or conceal parts of the apartment. The walls had to fulfill three functions for EOA’s art collector client, an Indian businessman who spends part of his time in New York: create a modular space out of the bedroom and living area, conceal a freight elevator that opens directly into the loft, and provide more wall area on which to hang large pieces of art. Amuneal’s challenge was to build a lightweight structure that wouldn’t place too much stress on wall- and ceiling-mounted hinges. Additionally, the walls had to be constructed in pieces that would fit through the small 4-by-8-foot opening of the freight elevator. The team modeled the doors using Solid Edge 3-D modeling software and constructed a mockup in their shop before bringing the finished pieces to site for assembly. The doors are constructed of structural aluminum tube framing that was saw-cut and welded together. Cold-formed steel cladding was laser-cut, and in some cases laser formed, before being backed with MDF and cleated to the door substructure. EOA worked closely with Amuneal to select the unique hand-applied blackened steel patina in one of the fabricator’s proprietary formulas. The steel walls also have a recessed “art channel” to support the weight of the client’s large-scale canvases, which can easily be rotated thanks to the design. Making sure that the approximately 10-by-10-foot doors would not wrack as they moved was another priority. Because the project’s general contractor had already finished the hardware-concealing header, the Amuneal team located track hardware from UK-based Coburn that would fit. A guide in the floor prevents movement as the doors slide closed on either side of a freestanding concrete wall to conceal the master bedroom. Because the client did not want a visible track for the seldom-used swinging elevator door, the team instead used a spring-loaded caster that would ride smoothly over the apartment’s reclaimed Brazilian barn wood floors.