Like the remnant framework of an abandoned rail bridge, this riverside house has a deck that seems to fit its semi-barren surroundings, evoking a sense of place and history while also serving as a wonderful gathering space for the home’s owners and visitors.
Designed by Paul F. Hirzel (images by Jim Van Gundy), River Place reflects client desires to be as close to the water and conserve as much of the land as possible. At the same time, the building needed to deal with everything from regional wildlife (rattlesnakes at ground level) to extremely hot summer temperatures (mitigated through a combination of openness and proximity to the cooler river). Concrete piers hold the building aloft, giving it a very small remnant footprint on the landscape, while steel helps part of the structure cantilever over the water below.
The most bold and arguably beautiful element is the metal framework that defines and supports the overall plan, tying together disparate spaces into a singular and powerful unit: “The steel bridge truss supports a wood lattice (128’x24’) that shades conditioned space below and reduces cooling loads by 20%. A secondary benefit is an accessible roof deck for easy roof maintenance and mischievous wine tasting, as it has no guardrails. Single lane road access into the site required sizing the prefabricated truss members to be transported on a short flatbed trailer and installed with a small boom crane.”
More about its design and construction: “The main structure (living-guest quarters) is set on four 8-inch thick concrete piers. The central pier is doubled to make space for mechanical/electrical systems that connect lateral runs to the rooms. The finish floor elevation of the bridge structure (905 feet above sea level) was determined by a water shed hydrology analysis and is set above the 300-500 year flood event elevation. This ground separation also discourages snake infestations.”