A three-volume mountainside retreat forms connection to the terrain.
On a starkly magnificent mountainside 800 feet above El Paso, Texas, architects Darci Hazelbaker and Dale Rush have designed a modernist masterpiece befitting the rugged landscape on which it is perched. Sweeping views of the city below and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in the distance are matched in beauty only by the terrain surrounding the 5,200-square-foot home. Backing up on two sides to national parkland, the three-story home essentially becomes one with the natural wilderness it abuts.
To blend in the Franklin Mountain House with its environment, Tucson-based firm Hazelbaker Rush built much of the three-story residence with the naturally occurring volcanic rock basalt and granite. Only the white stucco of the third level provides contrast to the rocky hillside. In fact, when viewed from a distance, the lower floors seem to blend into the terrain like a modernist chameleon.
“Each room of the home has a direct connection to the adjacent outdoor living spaces and to the mountain landscape and valley views beyond.” - Dale Rush, Hazelbaker Rush
And to make the most of the unfettered views of downtown El Paso and bountiful West Texas sunshine, Hazelbaker and Rush turned to Western Window Systems, with its huge panels of glass and contemporary sightlines, to make the most of the vistas.
“Each room of the home has a direct connection to the adjacent outdoor living spaces and to the mountain landscape and valley views beyond,” says Rush, who founded the firm in 2009 with Hazelbaker. “The sliding doors and large windows are integral in reinforcing this connection with the natural world beyond the envelope of the home.”
Indeed, in the third-level master suite, a massive Series 600 Stacking Multi-Slide Door opens to the eastern lawn and patio facing up the mountain slope, seamlessly merging the indoors with the outside.
“The multi-slide in the master suite allows the owner the option to open up the bedroom to the patio or the bathroom,” Rush says. “It’s a flexibility that isn’t afforded with standard sliding options.”
“Function is paramount, but the aesthetic can be just as important.” - Dale Rush, Hazelbaker Rush
Similarly, a huge four-panel stacking multi-slide door, with its easy and reliable operability, opens up the wide kitchen and dining area to a patio and swimming pool on the west side of the home. Given the elevation of the hillside home, cool Texas breezes can course through the main level when the doors are open.
“We like to use well-engineered products with clean lines,” Rush says. “Function is paramount, but the aesthetic can be just as important. Doors and windows are some of those elements that you touch and interact with on a daily basis. How they look, how they feel, and how they work can all determine the quality of the home.”
Completed in August 2014, the three-year undertaking includes many indoor accents hand-fabricated by the architects themselves, including a concrete pedestal bathroom sink, the wooden bed frame in the master bedroom, stitched leather and steel drawer pulls, and the desk and oak shelving in the office.
The third-floor volume features in an eye-catching triad of Series 670 Fixed Windows, each just a couple feet tall by several feet wide, creates a south-facing strongly horizontal wall of glass overlooking the pool that gives a glimpse of the horizon while not flooding the bedrooms with the strong West Texas sun.
A similar treatment of strongly horizontal fixed windows set among the thick rock walls form a 90-degree corner cut into the second-floor volume’s sitting room, providing striking views to the south and west.
“Western Window Systems products met our design objectives,” Rush says. “Energy-efficient performance, thin-profile frames, reliable operation of the sliders and casements, while fitting into a no-nonsense, modern aesthetic that meets the budget.
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The main level of the Franklin Mountain House is built with volcanic rock basalt and granite from the region.
The white stucco volume stands out amid the rocky terrain of the Franklin Mountains near El Paso.
A multi-slide door in the master suite opens up to the natural mountain preserve.
The master suite's multi-slide door seamlessly merges the interior of the upper volume with the rugged landscape outside.
When the massive west-facing multi-slide door is open, cool Texas breezes course through the home's main volume.
The upper-volume living quarters feature unparalleled views of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in the distance.