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An alpine lodge for today: designed for heavy snow loads, seismic safety, and challenging setback regulations.

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. Windows face south toward the road and north toward the lake; windows on east and west sides are angled so they don't face the nieghbors.

To capitalize on sunlight and views--especially during dark winter months when snow depths can reach 12 feet--Malick placed the main living areas on the second floor. He kept the main floor as open as possible by combining the living room, dining room, and kitchen into a single space oriented toward the deck; a low ceiling over the kitchen and dining areas visually separates them from the soaring living room beyond.

The living room is supported by an overscaled fireplace and chimney. Heavy snow loads--more than 460 pounds per square foot--and seismic safety dictated the use of massive, 18-inch-thick structural beams. Malick left the fir beams exposed, adding to the house's mountain-lodge character.

A winding entry doubles as an air lock and mudroom, used for stamping off snow and storing ski gear before reaching the main floor.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1991
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