Rugged terrain forces powerful structural solutions, and this home finesses both the spectacular view and its tricky site. It floats above the shifting hillside on cylindrical footings anchored in bedrock, allowing the top 3 feet of soil to slide around the poles like water under a dock. Only the toughest building materials pass muster in this fire-prone part of the country. The steel skeleton supports glazed walls and gleaming copper siding. The roof is metal and gravel with a fireproof membrane; the entry door is stainless steel, and decks are slate. “The owners wanted to open up the home to views as much as possible,” says architect Arthur Dyson. Inside, their wish for transparency translates to a glass-floor foyer and staircase and a folding glass wall that exposes the ­valley-side elevation to the treetops. The sum of these parts is a home that at once welcomes and withstands Mother Nature.

CATEGORY: Custom one-of-a-kind, 3,500 to 6,000 square feet
ENTRANT/ARCHITECT: Arthur Dyson and Associates, Architects, Fresno, Calif.
BUILDER: Pete Moffit Construction, Palo Alto, Calif.