Emigration House, a project by Steven Christensen Architecture of Santa Monica, California, has received a Special Mention distinction at the Architizer A+ Awards. The Architizer A+Awards received entries from over 100 countries, and its winners represent the best of architecture and design worldwide. The jury included such industry luminaries as Denise Scott Brown, Bjarke Ingels and Tom Kundig, as well as personalities from outside of architecture such as Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos), Yves Behar (Fuseproject), John Edelman (CEO, Design Within Reach), Cameron Sinclair (Architecture for Humanity) and Barry Bergdoll (MoMA). Special Mention awards were given to the top 15 percent of entries in each category, and other firms to receive the distinction include Morphosis, Neri&Hu, and OMA.
In addition to their recognition for Emigration House, Christensen's office was awarded the Jury Prize in the Unbuilt Hospitality category for Liepaja Thermal Bath, a hotel and spa in Liepaja, Latvia, and Heptagon House, a guest house in Heceta Beach, Oregon. Winners were recognized at an awards gala on May 11th at the Highline Stages in New York City and will be featured in a forthcoming book by Phaidon Press.
Construction on the home is slated to begin June 2017.
Below is a descriptive text for Emigration House.
The canon of architecture offers many significant examples of hillside houses cascading down toward a significant view. This project addresses an unusual site constraint, where the best view is over your shoulder.
This 6.8 acre Emigration Canyon site, located on the overland carriage route shared by prominent migrants from the Donner Party to the Mormon Pioneers, sits partially atop a prominent ridge that offers spectacular views of surrounding peaks and the city lights below. Like many sites with expansive views, this site is prominently visible, and although the platted building pad sits squarely atop the ridge, placement of a home there would substantially disrupt existing mountain silhouettes.
This design seeks to preserve the natural character of the canyon and avoid the 'cherry on top of the sundae' site strategy dictated by the plat. Oriented on the back side of the knoll, and humble in scale by neighborhood standards, the house stands discreetly away from the street and hugs tightly to the topography. Rather than cascading down the primary slope toward a view of other houses, the form reaches upward, climbing toward the tiny part of the site where it can sneak a peek at the city below without obstructing ridge views from afar. Meanwhile, the broad south side of the home opens up toward Dale Benchmark and Perkins Peak: 90 degrees of protected mountain views. Strategic site placement and a binary approach to glazing ensure that this house in a highly developed canyon will have no man-made objects in sight, except for the view it frames toward the Salt Lake Valley through the canyon mouth below.
The home's unique design was motivated by an interest in the manipulation of vernacular roof forms, a current preoccupation of the practice that has spanned across several recent projects. The design began with a simple rectangular bar scheme, bending it into an elongated ‘Z’ in both plan and section in order to adhere to the slope of the site and direct the view upon entry toward Dale Benchmark and Perkins Peak. This simple manipulation to the plan is registered by a series of contortions within the project's gable roof, transforming its recognizable form into a distorted and faceted topography. This roof form extends down the north side of the house, shielding it from winter cold and undesirable views toward neighboring homes, while cantilevering over the south elevation to invite in winter sun and unspoiled mountain views. As one moves from the home's public street view toward its private backyard, the form’s legibility as a closed prismatic solid begins to unfold into an architecture of immaterial planes.
In addition to the recent A+ Special Mention, Emigration House was named a Best of Year Honoree by Interior Design Magazine, received an Honorable Mention from the Residential Architect Design Awards and Architect Magazine, and was selected for the Emerging Professionals Exhibition at the National Headquarters of the American Institute of Architects.
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Team: Steven Christensen (Principal), Devon Montminy, Cori Gunderson, Tianyu Kan, Andrew Kim, Carol Cotu
Status: Construction beginning June 2017
About Steven Christensen Architecture
Steven Christensen Architecture is an award-winning design practice based in Santa Monica, California. The firm's built work ranges in scale from a 64 square foot museum installation to the 36,000 square foot headquarters of a software startup. The firm was recently honored with the 2016 Young Architects’ Award from the Architect’s Newspaper, a recognition given to one emerging firm per year nationwide.
Steven Christensen AIA, LEED AP is a registered architect and a member of the faculty in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, where he has taught graduate and undergraduate design studios since 2012. He received his Master in Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and he has been an invited critic at several institutions including Harvard, USC, Michigan and Cambridge. The firm’s work has been published internationally in several exhibitions, most recently in the 2014 and 2015 Emerging Professionals Exhibitions at the national headquarters of the American Institute of Architects in Washington DC, a 2014 exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum, as a Special Exhibit in the 2015 LA Art Show, and in a forthcoming exhibition entitled New Los Angeles Architecture in Athens and Berlin.
Prior to launching his independent practice, Christensen was a designer at Gensler in San Francisco, California, CORE in Washington, DC, and with Preston Scott Cohen in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was a member of the design team for the new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.