Kipp Edick and Joe Sadoski first met as high schoolers in Salt Lake City, parting ways postgraduation to explore the same interest: architecture. Edick took to the East, earning his MArch from Yale before launching his New York firm, Architect Associates. Sadoski headed west to pursue the same degree at the University of Oregon and is now a Project Designer and Project Manager at Signal Architecture + Research in Seattle. In 2012, the classmates-turned-contemporaries, who had kept in touch throughout graduate school, had the opportunity to collaborate when a friend from their younger days reached out to them to design his new residence. “He has always been very supportive of Kipp and me pursuing careers in architecture,” says Sadoski. “And he felt that one of the best ways that he could contribute to and advance our professional careers was to commission one or both of us to design his house.” It was an ideal opportunity for a cross-country collaboration.
The client, a retired electrical engineer, wanted a home both environmentally efficient and offering plenty of privacy. “Oftentimes, the first things cut from a project are sustainable components,” says Sadoski. “Having a client who made them a very high priority allowed us to get creative in our approach.” Working with the Salt Lake City–based energy and environmental firm Heliocentric, the architects incorporated sustainability from the ground up, wrapping the home’s foundation and footing in insulation To reduce as much thermal bridging as possible. More straightforward solutions were brought in as well, such as incorporating solar panels and a geothermal heat pump, as well as installing triple- and quadruple-pane insulated glazing units in the windows. But their most imaginative solution was adding a heat exchanger to the 3,000-gallon cistern they buried in the yard. Used not only to capture rainwater to irrigate the home’s landscaping, the cistern acts as a year-round thermal (cold) sink. The cistern contains a heat exchanger and a separate radiant zone for the wine cellar, so the heat pump is not required to go from hot to cold to cool the wine cellar. This allows the house to cool and heat at the same time, if necessary. As a result, the home achieves a very high level of sustainability; it generates 50-60% of the energy it consumes.
Edick and Sadoski tackled the client’s privacy concerns with an equally varied set of approaches. Most apparent is the scarcity of windows. The entire 3,600-square-foot house has only five deliberately placed windows that allow for natural ventilation and strategic views, and yet there’s nothing dark or cavelike about the home. A series of skylights runs the length of the entrance corridor, while others, sloped to shed water and snow, are placed above beds and showers to bring in soft, indirect light. At the core of the property, overlooking a landscaped courtyard, the duo set a light well surrounded by three custom glass curtain walls created by Salt Lake City specialty contractors Steel Encounters. Edick notes of Steel Encounters, whose high-profile projects have included work on the Amazon Spheres and the Seattle Space Needle, that “we were encouraged by their interest and budget. For a modest house (by their standards), they were open to unconventional and highly customized detailing and finishing.”
The custom glass wasn’t the only instance in which large-scale commercial products were retrofitted for the residence. The doors chose for the garage are typically used in an industrial or aviation settings. “One goal was to have the house unified by one material, so we wanted to find a garage door that allowed for a big, open span but could easily be covered in the same exterior material,” says Edick. They worked with the doors’ manufacturer, Schweiss, to custom design them to the scale of the house, then added insulation and weather barriers before cladding the doors in the same rough-sawn western red cedar plank siding covering the rest of the exterior. “These doors are also far more insulated and air-tight than standard residential garage doors, further contributing to the passive-design approach of the house,” says Sadoski.
The project marries Edick’s classical East Coast training with Sadoski’s West Coast eco-focus. “My experience at the University of Oregon helped me understand how to integrate some of these sustainable strategies,” says Sadoski. “Sustainability is built into the DNA of the program.” The result is a home that feels like an oasis rather than a fortress, clean and engaging rather than stark and minimal. “We were in a unique position to design this house because we have known each other and the client since we were young,” says Sadoski. “We’ve been able to observe his regimen and lifestyle and to translate them into an organized armature in a way that works well and allows him to live as his best self.” Now that’s how you build a friendship.