Mountain House & Home: This is how it’s done
In the front of the lot sits a 100-year-old cabin turned modern architectural firm, in the back, unobstructed alleyway views of Tellurides eastern peaks, and in the middle, a happy ecological house and happy people. Telluride architects Bruce and Jodie Wright have long practiced a tread-lightly lifestyle, and implementing green elements into design has always come naturally, especially recently in the design of their own resourceful home.We dovetail our work with how we live, with a self-imposed sense of responsibility of being mindful of your own actions, says Bruce Wright. When youre going through the process of designing and building a home, youre sitting there with a blank piece of paper and there are certain things that just make sense. Creating unique and superior designs, he says, involves asking a lot of questions.You start asking Why is that wall here? Why is that there? Were trying to build a better mousetrap. Jodie and Bruce are the proprietors of One Architects, a decade-old design business and a well sought-after name in Tellurides building industry. Theyve cultivated genuine relationships with all sides of the industry contractors, subcontractors, owners, interior designers, building commissions and departments and in the past 14 months it was their turn to play two roles in the building field: architect and owner. We have good basic (green) building standards, Jodie Wright says. And with our project, it seemed like we were always 95 percent there. It came naturally.Pete DeLuca of Pete DeLuca Construction built the Wrights house, his first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified project. But hes been building green, as the Wrights design green, naturally for years. This is the way weve been building for quite a while, but without the LEED certification, DeLuca says.
Its a snowy October morning, and we take a home tour from the ground or rather, below the ground level up. The thick slab foundation is mega waterproofed, like a boat, says Bruce, and was laid about 12 feet underground. The resulting basement floor is a seamless, glossy, natural gray-colored concrete thats eliminated the need for additional materials for an alternate type of flooring. Whats been dubbed the Monkey Room is surprisingly well-lit by large sliding glass doors reaching floor to ceiling. The room absorbs natural light through grates that lie at ground level as part of the walkway alongside the house. The walls are a soft shade of white, and the room is nothing short of welcoming.There are a couple kinds of meanings of green to us, Bruce says. One is for the planet, for sustainable harvested materials, and the other is for the people, for nontoxic and pleasant living.From the basement you can see the sky, and this is the green for people idea, Bruce says. A rectangle slab of Absolute Black Imperial granite is set squarely in the middle of the concrete basement floor and, directly above it, a matching glass rectangle makes a window through the main level floor. The top floor mimics this again with its own window, and in the ceiling is a skylight, same dimensions and same location as the marble below. The light gives way through skylight, through the windows to the basement, and is just one aspect of the Wrights determined accent on natural lighting, for people and the planet.The natural light in the house is the conceptual piece we made sure to design in, Jodie says. The Historic and Architectural Review Commission, or HARC, is the town of Tellurides stringent planning review board that sets building guidelines for residential and commercial buildings suited to Tellurides Victorian motif. For the Wrights, wall-to-window dimensions were just one of a few green design elements they sought approval on. We put in as many and as large windows as HARC would allow, Bruce says.The tour continues upstairs while snow clouds and flurries clear outside, the sun beams in, the rooms light up inside all three floors.
Detail to detail, design to design, Bruce and Jodie have been implementing green ideas despite the challenges of being green in the industry. It can be expensive and time consuming. Many builders are stubborn to change traditional building methodologies, and governmental organizations may not be up to speed on the booming interest in living green. LEED began as a national organization to award green commercial projects but is still in its infancy with residential home certification. The LEED for Homes pilot project awarded the Wrights green abode a silver standing.Weve been working with green techniques for quite a while, 10 to 12 years, Bruce says. We used to try to talk with clients about incorporating a lot of these things, and people were really reluctant; they didnt want to be the guinea pig.Doing their own house is another story.Its great owning the house and experiencing it from an owners standpoint, he says. You really have to scrutinize your priority list, look at what you can afford and the costs savings, but also what it will give you in having a healthy house.Ironically, the Wrights and DeLuca played reverse roles in the past when Jodie and Bruce designed DeLucas home that he built himself.They know how a house goes together, DeLuca says. They dont just have layout ideas, but a very realistic approach. Their plans are some of the most detailed in the industry.The Wrights house when not naturally lit is lit by fluorescent lighting. The control panel is programmed to read the availability of natural light, and all bulbs are set at 90 percent of their total power, doubling the bulbs lifespan. Like many energy-efficient elements, the bulbs cost more initially but pay back in the future.The stairs from the basement to the main floor are made of Glu-Lam, a wood product created by recycled boards glue-laminated together. The recycled boards are saving the traditional use of big, old-growth wood pieces. Staircases wind up uniformly and change material midway to frosty translucent acrylic blocks.
The laundry room/mudroom cabinetry is not only people-pleasing, constructed out of friendly plywood and formaldehyde-free, but also locally grown, built by Telluride Woodworks.Accessing local and regional materials is a priority for the Wrights despite Tellurides remote location and hard-to-reach materials. Just as green building is growing slowly but surely Tellurides access to eco-friendly materials is coming closer to home.We try to be aware of whats going on in the region, whats out there. With our own home we really wanted to follow some kind of measuring stick, and we found we were working in the right direction, Jodie says.Now the sun is warming the main floor, half of which is natural stone and the other half a fusion of 2-inch by 2-inch white oak cut-offs. These unused pieces of wood (collected from a European window factory) were fused together for a warm, earthy, solid patterned floor. Outside, decks are made of Forest Stewardship Council certified sustainable harvested wood in deep natural hues. Bruce and Jodies home from sketch design to its finishes is a collaboration of ideas, a reflection of a long-term partnership. Both are Michigan natives and graduates of Lawrence Tech University, and found Telluride 15 years ago. I feel like were pretty lucky because generally were on the same page for the bulk of it its just the little stuff, Jodie says. And they are also on the same page about being on the same page.Jodie and I agree on 90 percent of the decisions, then we argue incessantly over about 10 percent of really minor things. It give us an outlet, Bruce says smiling. High ceiling, engineered lumber beams act as a natural horizontal accent through the varied open spaces of the house. Upstairs acrylic stairway railings and cloudy white insets in sliding doors invite light to move through the home bringing Tellurides bluebird days inside and into living space keeping it warm, bright and energy efficient. The challenges have been few, and the reward is really exciting, Jodie says. Now we can get clients on board, we can lead by example. Now we can say weve done it; this is how it is done.
Plumbing & HeatingPar MechanicalMontrose, CO(970) 249.9822LightingLutron Lighting SystemEnlighten Ltd.Telluride, CO(970) 728.0500www.enlightencolorado.comLandscape DesignCaribou Design AssociatesTelluride, CO (970) 728.6180