Glass House at Bellevue
This home was recently featured in Denver Business Journal. Check out it's feature: Rare Boulder compound with 'seamless' views of Chautauqua Park lists for $16.5M
Significant remodel 6850 sf, 5 bedroom, 5 bath, main residence, includes a 1350 sf walk-out guest level covered with sod roofs over two guest suites below.
The main residence contains two studies, a home theater, exercise room, library and an attached 1010 sf oversized three-car tandem garage with a sod roof/landscaped rose garden, gazebo and outdoor grilling area above. The main house is sheathed in native Lyons Buff stain-face flagstone, stucco and weathered Wyoming snow fence wood siding. The glazing for the expansive window openings is Pilkington frame-less and mullion-less structural glazing.
New Home 1500 sf, 1 bedroom, 2 bath single family residence with an attached 252 sf single car garage. The Caretaker’s home is built to house a full-time resident to maintain the property and monitor all of the main home’s operating systems. The home is sheathed in native Lyons Buff stain-face flagstone, stucco and weathered Wyoming snow fence wood siding.
The location for these two homes is at the base of the world-famous Flatirons, adjacent to historic nationally landmarked Chautauqua and City of Boulder Open Space. The main home embraces a historic picnic spot on a large outcropping of sandstone and creates a surrounding man-made pool, fed by a representational spring. The house is an exercise in the edge relationship between the Rockies to the west and the Great Plains to the east. Views are captured from the main level upwards to the western Flatirons above, and downwards to the east overlooking the City of Boulder, CU campus and farmland of Boulder County. The master suite level opens directly onto an outdoor patio on grade that flows directly onto the Enchanted Mesa and City of Boulder Open Space.
Both homes are partially constructed with reclaimed materials from the previous residence that inhabited the site. The main home and guest level are both heated and cooled by geo-exchange through the use of a radiant slab. Xcel Energy’s Windsource program provides electricity.
“Art and sculpture have a responsibility to future generations.” -Robert Henri
The Glass House at Bellevue breaks through the constraints of what is possible in livable sculpture. As early retirees, the owners requested an inventive construction to blur the lines between man-made structure and the celebrated natural environment framing the 1.2 acre property. In addition, the home accommodates the needs of mature residents, visiting family, and catered gatherings while maintaining energy efficiency. The Glass House borders Boulder’s historic Chautauqua Park, founded in 1898, as a significant feature of the Rocky Mountain region.
In alignment with its owners’ vision, the Glass House is evocative of its dynamic setting at the intersection of the vertical plains of the Rocky Mountains and the horizontality of the Great Plains. During an initial visit to the site McMullen witnessed a fierce mountain storm, which inspired him to capture the geologic and environmental momentum inherent in the unique Boulder Flatirons region. The result: frameless Pilkington triple-laminated, low-E structural glass walls soar outwards over two stories, providing a vertical momentum that echoes the towering rock formations. At first impression there is no line distinguishing interior from exterior, an effect achieved by the innovative use of Pilkington or Frit-patterned glass along walls, ceilings and even flooring. Inside, Honduran mahogany and copper-plated glass doors provide a warm atmosphere hearkening back to the pioneer era. Residents are bathed in natural lighting throughout the home, guaranteeing a healthy living environment. Responsible comfort is ensured through the use of a thermal exchange system that anticipates the slightest fluctuation in temperature. Additionally, a future rainwater system nurtures the landscape in this high altitude dry climate.
The owners’ desire to host extended family and community gatherings influenced the compartmentalized layout of this four-story residence. Mirror-image “pods” compose the ground floor, which is brightened from sunlight filtered through an art glass walkway on the main level. Each living space opens directly out to the serene surroundings to foster intimacy with Boulder’s spectacular natural setting. A second full-service kitchen is integrated into the outdoor patio for ease in catering summer events. Linking all levels of the home is an unobtrusive elevator to provide for ease of circulation as the owners mature. Due to an existing City of Boulder solar shadow ordinance, McMullen designed a unique sculptural massing complimented by low, sloping roofs. Even with this limitation each level is nearly invisible from the next to evoke a solitude contradicting the proximity to downtown Boulder and the University of Colorado campus five minutes north.
In order to support local business, McMullen features native materials, such as Colorado sandstone and weathered snow fence. Seamless transitions between inside and out are furthered through the incorporation of existing boulders. These striking water features also serve to increase humidity in the notoriously arid environment. The birds’ nest master suite is suspended above the entryway on representational “reeds,” completing the overall effect of a mountain aerie. To enter the master suite the owners spiral upwards in a frameless glass stairwell suspended over the reflecting pool below.
This eye for integrating the purity of nature into the latest in smart building practices is characteristic of the architect. The Glass House merges elegantly with the natural world, offering a meditative experience at every turn. The owners echo this sentiment, stating that new intricacies in design are illuminated by changes in time of day, season and weather. As stated in McMullen’s vision, in an age of architecture scattered indifferently on the landscape, buildings such as the Glass House that seemingly grow from their sites herald a rare aesthetic pleasure and environmental ethic.