An Alpine Lodge for Today: Designed for Heavy Snow Loads, Seismic Safety, and Challenging Setback Regulations

Article excerpt

Snowbound and serene. That's how it was last winter in this new vacation house near Soda Springs in the Sierra. The owners didn't mind being confined by the weather because the house is open, bright, and easy to keep warm. With its steep roof, massive fireplace, and shingled sides, it romantically recalls the kind of alphine lodge built around Lake Tahoe, California, in the early part of the century.

The 2,000-square-foot house occupies a north-facing, pie-shaped lot between two other houses in a subdivision on a small lake. Greenbelt and setback requirements were severe, and one of the neighboring houses had been built close to the property line. The challenge, according to San Francisco architect John Malick, was to get maximum light and privacy despite the constricted lot.

He achieved his objective by following the setback lines as closely as possible, creating a boomerang-shaped plan opening to a lakeside deck. The deck projects to the water's edge, giving the house's owners the sensation of sitting on a high dock.

Neither wing of the boomrang is wide than 14 feet. …