Houses embedded in the earth are becoming a specialty of Gluck+, the New York architect-led design-build firm formerly known as Peter Gluck and Partners. The reasons are compelling–the grass roofs reduce energy loads and their low profile doesn't impinge on the natural landscape. In the case of a 2,850-square-foot guesthouse in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the clients, for whom Gluck had designed a main house on the site in 2004, wanted a separate structure to be located on property to the south between a creek and an access road. But they didn't want it to interfere with the splendid mountain vista they had from the main house. “So many views are destroyed by plunking buildings on top of the land,” says Gluck.

The architects configured the guesthouse as two rectilinear steel-framed bars that intersect; the primary one contains open living and dining spaces, with a roof gradually rising to the south at a 20-degree angle. The volume seems to collide with and lift over a rectilinear structure running east–west on a diagonal, which contains three bedrooms and the garage. A wall of solar panels on the south elevation of the bedroom wing supplies heat for the house and swimming pool.

The living and dining areas, anchored by a bluestone fireplace wall on the north, open out through glazed doors to the pool on the east and a private, sunken, triangular courtyard on the west. Cor-Ten clads the courtyard's slanted retaining wall, into which an outdoor fireplace is carved. Just beneath the Cor-Ten fascia of the house's roofs, clerestories frame panoramic views of the mountains. “It's become more than a guesthouse,” says Gluck. “It's a communal space for the family.”

Completion Date: February 2012

Gross Square Footage: 2,850 SF

Location: Colorado Rocky Mountains


Architecture and Construction:
423 West 127th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10027

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Shannon Bambenek
Cory Collman
Peter L. Gluck
Charlie Kaplan
Jason LaPointe
Matthew Lawson
James MacGillivray
Scott Scales
Aaron Kazam
Noam Shoked

Interior designer:
Insight Environmental Design

Land Planning:
Joseph Wells Land Planning

Civil Engineer:
Sopris Engineering LLC

Geotechnical Engineer:
HP Geotech

MEP/Sustainability Consultant:
IBC Engineering Services, Inc.

Structural Engineer:
Robert Silman Associates, P.C.

Low Voltage | Mechanical Controls:
LEAX Controls

Forst Consulting Co., Inc.

Lux Populi

Steve Mundinger
+1 970 923 1055

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Adobe Creative Suite
Microsoft Project



Structural system:
Steel frame and composite metal deck and
concrete retaining walls

Exterior cladding:
Masonry: Arkansas Bluestone

Metal Panels: 1/8' Corten Steel Panels
from 'Rustic Metal Roofing'

Metal/glass curtain wall: Custom Fixed
Glazed Units with custom steel back-up frame

Wood: Custom Milled Vertical Grain White Oak

Moisture barrier: Vaproshield at walls, Tremco
'Tuff n Dri' at foundation

Other cladding unique to this project:
Minerit HD Fiber Cement Board & Natura Fiber Cement Board From Eastern Architectural Products.

Elastomeric: Hydrotech Membrane Roofing and Intensive Garden Roof Assembly

Glass: Oldcastle PPG Solarban 60

Entrances: Arcadia ARC-8250 Glass
Terrace Doors

Sliding doors: Arcadia ULT-5000 Glass Sliding Doors

Locksets: Custom made Stainless steel hardware by Truso Design with Accurate mechanisms

Pulls: Custom stainless steel by Truso Hardware

Interior finishes:
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Custom Cabinetry by Walnut Street Woodworks

Paints and stains: Pittsburgh Paints 'Pure Performance'

Solid surfacing: Corian Counters

Floor and wall tile:
2'x4' custom concrete pavers by Wausau Pavers, custom color mix (interior: floors; exterior: in courtyard and around pool). Nemo Basalti Perla
and Metro White Gloss at bathroom walls

Carpet: Flor 'House Pet', 'Frog'

Interior ambient lighting:
Birchwood Linear Flourescents

US Illumination LED

Task lighting:
Benjamin Hubert, 'Heavy'

Hevilite downlights

Dimming System or other lighting controls:
Lutron Dimming

Toto Dual Flush
Kohler Shower components
Delacora Tub and Faucet

Energy management or building automation

Photovoltaic system: Heliodyne Solar Hot Water