Traverse City, Michigan

Site Size: 2.5 acres

Project Size: 1,400 square feet

Program: The clients initially asked the architects to design a relatively small, one-story cabin, but later became curious about the view above the treetops. They rented a bucket lift, rode to the top, and made a video capturing the panoramic views from the forest canopy, which they sent to the architects.

Location: On a hilltop and surrounded by deciduous forest, the site has views of Glen Lake and Lake Michigan beyond.

Solution: The four-story hybrid steel and wood frame structure is clad with metal panels and plywood. From the open-air ground floor, outdoor steel stairs lead to the entry on the second floor. With the office/guestroom on the second floor and master bedroom on the third, the architects placed the main living area on the amply glazed top floor, which opens out to a cantilevered terrace.

Construction methods: The house has a hydronic radiant floor heating system in addition to a ground-source heat pump.

Balance Associates Architects
80 Vine Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98121
T 206.322.7737
F 206.322.0465


Balance Associates Architects
80 Vine Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98121
T 206.322.7737
F 206.322.0465

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Tom Lenchek, AIA - principal
Margo Peterson-Aspholm, AIA - project architect
Kyle Zerbey, AIA ' architect

Quantum Consulting Engineers

General contractor:
Golden Rule Construction

Steve Keating Photography



Structural system
Steel and wood frame

Exterior cladding
Roseburg ' Breckenbridge siding and soffits

Wood doors:

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Eyewood Design Inc.

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Karelia Flooring

Interior ambient lighting:
Juno, Leviton, IKEA

Juno, Lithonia

Juno Recessed Can Light

Kohler, Toto, Lasco, Brasstech

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
The home is well-built, and exceeds Michigan Energy Code (one of the more rigorous in the U.S.). It has in-floor hydronic heat and a ground-source heat pump which provides both heating and cooling, and is very efficient. There are large overhangs at the upper floor, which has the most glazing. Of course the best view to the west requires interior roller shades in the afternoon light.