From a distance, both figuratively and literally, The New American Home (TNAH) 2009 appears contradictory to what’s being deemed appropriate in the current conservative housing climate: a nearly 9,000-square-foot estate with a multimillion-dollar price tag built in a market, Las Vegas, that is the poster child for the industry’s woes. Never mind that the house sold before it was finished, albeit at a slight discount to accommodate a lease-back deal allowing the builder, Blue Heron Properties, to use it as a model home for the 12 other lots of the new infill community in which it sits.
Never mind that, despite its size, the house far exceeds conventional resource efficiency standards, achieving a remarkable 76 percent energy-use savings compared to the DOE’s Building America benchmark and earning a Gold rating against the NAHB’s Green Building Program standards, thanks to a concerted combination of sustainable design concepts and building practices, and innovative, eco-friendly devices.
Never mind that the house updates and revitalizes modern style and celebrates the return (and value) of architect-designed housing with a desert contemporary aesthetic perfectly suited to its climate and buyer profile. That value is immediately evident as you turn into Agave Azul and see the house for the first time in full, and even more so once you walk up to and through the front door.
If you can put all of those accomplishments aside, then TNAH is reduced to just a big, beautiful house, reserved for a well-heeled slice of the market that enjoys casual elegance, appreciates a bit of hip Vegas nostalgia, plans to age in place, and likes to entertain—a lot. “It fits perfectly within its environment, both aesthetically and demographically,” says builder Tyler Jones. “There’s a growing market of buyers who are interested in a new, fresh style of housing.”
More Than The Sum Of Its Parts
But it is much more than that. Like every one of the 25 previous show homes in this program, co-sponsored by Builder and the NAHB’s National Council of the Housing Industry, it provides a wealth of ideas that will eventually filter down into homes of every style, size, and price range.
For instance, Jones employed insulated concrete forms for the home’s main structural element to improve thermal performance; meanwhile, both solar electric (including brand-new bifacial PV panels) and solar thermal power offset grid-supplied electricity.
The house also sports a cool-roof system to protect against the harsh desert sun and heat, and a natural gas–powered HVAC system that has been time-tested in Japan but makes its domestic debut in this year’s show home. “We did quite a bit of work to provide a new level of sustainability for this size home,” says John Danielian, a principal with Danielian Associates Architects & Planners in Irvine, Calif. “Green design and building standards will soon be a requirement on every project, regardless of size.”
Then there’s the layout of the home’s four levels, bookended by a below-grade entertainment area that opens to a generous courtyard, and an open-air sky deck lounge that overlooks the Las Vegas valley and the Strip. The third level (second from street view) houses a guest suite, home office suite, and extra entertainment space.
The main level, however, is the most dynamic. It contains all of the essential functions, from a kitchen-dining-hobby/laundry wing to a private enclave of bedroom suites (including the master) set across the entry foyer from the public areas.
Between them is the great room, a volume space that also opens outward to the zero-edge pool and provides the primary access to a playground of outdoor spaces.
In fact, on every level, there is a distinct effort and plenty of opportunities to connect with the outside. “Interior spaces either visually connect or seamlessly expand to outdoor living spaces to enhance entertainment areas and promote the luxury lifestyle,” says Joe Digrado, the lead designer for Danielian Associates. Fortunately, the home’s east-west axis allows the rear elevation to leverage a northern exposure with an abundance of glass and enables that concept to thrive.
Comfortable, Not Cold
Modern design has a reputation for coming across as austere—until now. Interior designer Lee Lundquist and her team from Robb & Stucky Interiors’ Las Vegas office worked to balance the clean, straight lines and lack of ornamentation inherent in the home’s architecture with a comfortable, colorful, and occasionally whimsical palette of furnishings and finishes, such as the swanky, Rat Pack–style bar in the basement and the deep, rounded, upholstered sofas on the sky deck.
Not to be upstaged, landscape architect Pat Murphy and the crew from Summers/Murphy & Partners in Dana Point, Calif., took cues from Lundquist to create room-like experiences among the outdoor spaces within the vast rear courtyard and elsewhere. Dotted with native plantings and shade trees (particularly along the home’s west elevation), the rear courtyard sports a Zen garden; a spa; a deep, covered outdoor living space with a seating area, flat screen TV, and pool table; and a sunken outdoor kitchen and swim-up bar—not to mention the rejuvenation room that rests on top of the water.
The result is a truly integrated design that is the foundation of sincere sustainability instead of fleeting fashion. “There was so much collaboration to create one cohesive vision,” says Jones of the team effort engaged for the project. “But that’s what makes it such a strong home.”
NCHI Contributors: More than 40 members and affiliated members of NCHI, the Leading Suppliers of NAHB, contributed products and services to The New American Home 2009.
American Gas Association (support for gas-powered products)
Arxx Building Products (insulated concrete forms system)
BaySystems North America (insulated roofing system)
BDHHI/Baldwin Hardware (door hardware)
Broan/NuTone (ventilation products, ironing center, and central vacuum)
CertainTeed (drywall and related supplies, fiberglass insulation)
Closet Factory (closet storage systems)
Daltile (tile products)
Dryvit Systems (stucco finish/top coat)
DuPont Building Innovation (solid surfacing)
Eaton Electrical/Cutler-Hammer (electrical systems/distribution, AC disconnects)
FBC Building Solutions (pipes for fire suppression system)
Hacker Industries (lightweight concrete deck and underlayment)
Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (indoor and outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchen appliances)
Icynene (open-cell foam insulation)
InSinkErator (waste disposers, hot water dispensers)
Kohler (plumbing fixtures and fittings)
Lowe’s Cos. (support for building products)
Masco Corp. (mirrors, shower doors)
Mohawk Builder Division (carpet and pad, hardwood flooring)
NREL/IBACOS Consortium (home performance/energy evaluation)
ODL (tubular skylight)
Owens Corning Cultured Stone (exterior and interior stone)
Overhead Door Corp. (garage doors and openers)
Pactiv Building Products (window flashing materials)
Phantom Manufacturing (retractable motorized pest/sun screen)
Portland Cement Association (support for concrete products)
Progress Lighting (lighting)
RCEI/Maxitrol (gas shut-offs, outdoor heaters)
Rinnai Corp. (tankless/instant hot water units)
Schluter Systems (shower pan system, tile underlayment)
Sierra Pacific Windows (windows, patio doors)
Simpson Strong-Tie (framing connectors/structural hardware)
The Sherwin-Williams Co. (coatings, prep materials)
ThyssenKrupp Access Corp. (elevator)
Timberlake Cabinetry (cabinets and built-ins, wine racking system)
Tyco Fire & Building Products (fire suppression system)
Uponor-Wirsbo (plumbing supplies/system)
Viking Range Corp. (major kitchen appliances)
Whirlpool Corp. (Gladiator garage storage system, laundry equipment)
Non-NCHI and Local Contributors: A bevy of local firms provided products and installation services (often times both), bringing a local flavor and ownership to the project and providing them with opportunities to showcase their wares and skills.
Advanced Windows (window installation)
Aggregate Industries/Bradstone Pavers (pavers)
All Air Systems (Aisin system, installation)
American Builders (gutter system)
Anthem Electronics (audio hub)
Anthony Sylvan Pools (pool and water features)
Cloud Carpet (flooring and fireplace surrounds installation)
Cutting Edge Industries (Timber-Soy Wood Stain application)
Denko Drywall (drywall and paint installation)
The Door Stop (door and trim installation)
Doors in Motion (motorization system for sliding glass doors)
Econ Appliances (appliance installation)
Eco-safety Products (Timber-Soy Wood Stain)
Executive Plastering (stucco installation)
Florian Solar Products (framing system for solar panels)
Freije Treatment Systems (water softening system)
Fronius (photovoltaic system inverters)
Green Building Consultants (certification for NAHB Green Building Program)
Imperium Smart Systems (technology system integration and installation)
Jeld-Wen (interior doors)
JVC (theater projector)
Lifeware (home automation software, media server hardware)
Mac Roofing (roofing system installation)
Merlin (ICF system supplier)
Microsoft (Windows Media Center)
Neff Rental (forklift)
Nevada Construction Clean-Up (waste management/recycling)
Noble Tile Co. (pool tile, waterwall tile, fire bowl, water feature)
NuVo Technologies (automation system control pad)
Paradigm Electronics (loudspeakers)
Pentair Water (pool heaters, sump pump, sewage ejection pump, reverse osmosis systems)
Red Rock Insulation (insulation installation)
Rise and Run (main staircase, all railings)
RM Design Studio (renderings, animation)
Sanyo Energy (photovoltaic panels)
Steel Engineers (steel material)
Stepstone Inc. Pavers (pavers)
Stewart Filmscreen (projection screen)
Stone Deck West (natural stone decking on Sky Deck)
Southwest Engineering (civil engineering services)
Southwest Masonry (concrete block wall installation)
Suncoast Post-Tension (post-tension concrete supply and installation, including slab)
Sunstate Landscape (pavers and landscape installation)
Sunshade Enclosures (louvers for Sky Deck)
Suntrek (solar thermal system and installation, photovoltaic system installation)
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (lumber certification for windows)
TNT Masonry (Cultured Stone installation)
Toshiba (television displays)
United Construction Products (pedestal paving system)
Universal Remote (remote controls)
W.R. Grace (basement waterproofing system)
Tour the House
Free guided tours of The New American Home 2009 are open to registered attendees of The International Builders’ Show, Jan. 20–23, in Las Vegas. Free roundtrip shuttle buses will load and unload near the main entrance to the convention center, on the north side of the Grand Concourse. Visit the show home tour booth inside the Grand Concourse to reserve a seat on the bus.
Driving Directions (from convention center): south on Paradise Rd.; left on E. Russell Rd.; right on S. Eastern Ave.; left on E. Sunset Dr./NV-562-East; right on Tomiyasu Ln.; right on Agave Azul; the house is on the right. Parking is extremely limited; please take the free shuttle bus. Drive time: approximately 15 minutes (7 miles).
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.