written by:
September 15, 2011

When plans for a prefab home flopped, Rian and Melissa Jorgensen were introduced to Jonathan Feldman of Feldman Architecture, whose custom design was able to deliver an environmentally conscious modern home that met all budgetary restrictions and exceeded all expectations.

1 / 11
2 Bar House in Menlo Park
The Jorgensen's Menlo Park home is a model of green design with features that are smart for everyone to consider. "Every project is different, but there are some universal things that will apply from project to project," says Feldman about designing a green home. "The first—and most obvious thing—is to always try to build less, to have a smaller house and be smart about how the rooms are designed and oriented so that you can get by with less space. Smart design will lead to a smaller building, but it won't feel smaller."
2 / 11
Large screens on the second story windows are a low-tech way to protect the interior from the sun's blistering rays, but still allow natural light to flow inside. In the family room, Melissa reclines on a Togo sofa by Ligne Roset with a favorite book in h
Large screens on the second story windows are a low-tech way to protect the interior from the sun's blistering rays, but still allow natural light to flow inside. In the family room, Melissa reclines on a Togo sofa by Ligne Roset with a favorite book in hand.
3 / 11
2 Bar House in Menlo Park
Two of the must-haves for the Jorgensens were a seamless connection between indoors and out since they frequently dine and play outside, and large expanses of glass to allow natural light to illuminate the interior. The living room opens into the backyard a spacious deck constructed from Trex.
4 / 11
2 Bar House in Menlo Park, California
The living room, dining room and kitchen are in one open space. The flooring is bamboo. The cabinetry is a mix of bamboo, walnut, and maple, and was fabricated by City Cabinetmakers out of San Francisco.
5 / 11
2 Bar House in Menlo Park, California
The dining chairs are Arne Jacobsen's Series 7.
6 / 11
2 Bar House in Menlo Park, California
The countertops in the kitchen are a mix of quartz surfaces and custom and salvaged stainless steel. "We use the kitchen all of the time, it turned out really nice," says Melissa. "It's very open, certainly one of the central focuses of the house, and is fun for entertaining."
7 / 11
Rock climbing wall in children's bedroom
Feldman designed to roof to have a slope optimal for solar panels. An added benefit is the "secret" playspace above the kids's rooms. To access the space, Feldman created this cork wall with climbing pulls purchased from a local sporting goods store.
8 / 11
Modern attic playroom by the window
Both of the children have access to the playspace, which has cork flooring. "Rian and Melissa thought, "How do we want to live our lives? How can the shape of the house create the backdrop for how we live and interact, and how our kids will grow up?" says Feldman. "They were really proactive and I think that's how we created this really special place."
9 / 11
2 Bar House in Menlo Park, California
"We call it the design the "2 Bar House" because there's a horizontal and perpendicular bar; one of the bars really looks over the other's roof. It would be unfortunate to only look out over this shiny white roof," says Feldman. "The master suite could be this thing that was kind of unfortunate, or it could be this secret garden and so the green roof became this splurge. A green roof is never something we design when we're out of money because it costs much more than a standard roof."
10 / 11
Outdoor roof balcony area with garden
"In this project, we got so much benefit out of this "secret garden" for the master suite along with all of these environmental benefits that the residents were excited to embrace. It's one of the pieces we are happiest about," says Feldman. Read the full article here.
11 / 11
Backyard of 2 Bar House in Menlo Park
Rian and Melissa Jorgensen's 2 Bar House in Menlo Park boasts all the usual green design suspects: energy-efficient lighting, good insulation, renewable material finishes, radiant heat, and the roof is pre-wired for future PV panels. Executed by Feldman Architecture, the house requires only natural lighting during the day which keeps energy costs way down. Still, the most stunning aspect of the green design is the living roof planted with succulents, aloe, viviums, and ice plants. "I'm absolutely glad that we did it," says Melissa. "It turned out so well and I really enjoy sitting up there and taking advantage of it as much as I can. It's very peaceful." Read more about this total remodel here.
Project 
2 Bar House
Architect 

Like many new homeowners seeking to realize the home of their dreams, Rian and Melissa Jorgensen had a simple set of must-haves—nothing too extravagant, something that was tailored to their needs (they have two young kids), boasted a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, and had an enviable connection between indoors and out. Drawn to the aesthetics and ethics, prefab seemed like the right route, but eventually proved to be cost prohibitive.

Their starting point was the Glide House designed by prefab maven Michelle Kauffman. "They were interested in the cost benefit and the sustainability aspect of it," says Feldman. "They were proponents of the fact that if you built it in a factory there is far less waste and inefficiencies. It can get assembled on-site quickly, so there's also a price benefit labor-wise."

2 Bar House in Menlo Park
The Jorgensen's Menlo Park home is a model of green design with features that are smart for everyone to consider. "Every project is different, but there are some universal things that will apply from project to project," says Feldman about designing a green home. "The first—and most obvious thing—is to always try to build less, to have a smaller house and be smart about how the rooms are designed and oriented so that you can get by with less space. Smart design will lead to a smaller building, but it won't feel smaller."
However, the Jorgensens wanted to modify the design to the point that the budgetary benefits from prefab were nullified by the changes. "They had this epiphany that they tweaked this house so much that it was essentially custom. Why not embrace that?" says Feldman.

So embrace custom they did, with a tailor-made energy-efficient green home with a strong connection to the outdoors. The naturally day-lit, 2,400 square-foot house is divided into two perpendicular sections, hence the project's name, the "2 Bar House."

"The owners came to us and said, 'We want a small house and we know that we just sleep in our bedrooms and there's a lot of wasted space there. We'd like to put that space into an open room where the family is going to spend time together. We'd also like that space to be adjacent to the yard because we spend a lot of time outside since the climate is so nice,'" says Feldman. "Their wise directive and how it translated into the plan and overall design is what I'm most proud of and excited about in this home."

2 Bar House in Menlo Park, California
The living room, dining room and kitchen are in one open space. The flooring is bamboo. The cabinetry is a mix of bamboo, walnut, and maple, and was fabricated by City Cabinetmakers out of San Francisco.
The 2 Bar House boasts all the usual green design suspects: energy-efficient lighting, good insulation, renewable material finishes, radiant heat, and the roof is pre-wired for future PV panels. "People often say that you shouldn't be able to put on solar panels before you've put in good insulation and have an efficient heater and take care of those things wasting energy to begin with, " says Feldman. "You should reduce your consumption to begin with before you harness more power."

Though the "invisible" green design elements carry the lion's share of the measurable environmental benefits, the most stunning attribute is the living roof designed by Lauren Schneider of Wonderland Garden and planted with succulents, aloe, viviums, and ice plants that flower in swaths of white and purple.

Modern attic playroom by the window
Both of the children have access to the playspace, which has cork flooring. "Rian and Melissa thought, "How do we want to live our lives? How can the shape of the house create the backdrop for how we live and interact, and how our kids will grow up?" says Feldman. "They were really proactive and I think that's how we created this really special place."
"It was a tough call," says Feldman of the roof. "Green roofs are more expensive than regular roofs and we were tied up against a budget all the way through. But we liked it conceptually and from an environmental point of view. The master suite looked out over this shiny, white roof. It could have been this thing that was kind of unfortunate, or it could be this secret garden, and so it became this splurge, this luxury for us to create this garden."

"I'm absolutely glad that we did it," says Melissa. "It turned out so well and I really enjoy sitting up there and taking advantage of it as much as I can. It's very peaceful."

Outdoor roof balcony area with garden
"In this project, we got so much benefit out of this "secret garden" for the master suite along with all of these environmental benefits that the residents were excited to embrace. It's one of the pieces we are happiest about," says Feldman. Read the full article here.
When everything was said, done, and built—green roof splurge and all—the home still came in at a modest $300 per square foot.

"Working with a family that was so conscious about creating a house that would shape the way their family would live, that appreciates modern design, and that had such a strong commitment to sustainable design proved to us that inspiring clients, rather than large budgets, often lead to the best designs," says Feldman.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016