Glass Farmhouse

Location Eastern Oregon
Design Principal Jim Olson

Surrounded by wheat fields on a high-altitude plateau stand a small glass house and a solid, traditional barn. The owners, inspired by Philip Johnson’s Glass House, wanted a refuge that opens up to the prairie and mountains. The structures are conveniently close to each other and enjoy a sense of isolation at the end of a long country road. The roof of the wood-frame barn, which houses farm equipment below and guest rooms above, was inspired by the local vernacular and is echoed in the shed roof of the glass house.

Three sides of the house consist of high-efficiency glass framed with steel; on the north is a solid exterior wall. Inside the transparent shell, living, eating, and sleeping areas surround an enclosure that contains the bathroom, study, and storage. The house rests on a concrete slab supported on a concrete foundation. In this way, the heat-absorbing and—releasing thermal mass is isolated from the ground plane. The window system combines transparency with energy-efficiency. Heat loss and gain is managed largely by the orientation of the house: on the south side, an eyebrow, or light shelf, deflects midday summer sun but admits low-angle winter sunlight.

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