New house for Santa Fe architect
THE HOUSE ARCHITECT BEVERLEY SPEARS DESIGNED for herself and her husband, Philip Crump, has not won any formal accolades yet, because it’s brand new. But there’s no doubt it will be an award-winner. The residence is a singular example of contemporized Santa Fe Style, broadly speaking, but it boasts a dominant feature that relates more to Rome, Morocco, and Mexico: the barrel vault.
“I just like them,” Spears said during a house visit in late November. “We go to Mexico a lot and many of those 16th-century churches are just a simple barrel vault.”
There are two barrel vaults, offset. The main one is over the living room-dining room-kitchen space and is finished inside with thin slats of slightly whitened, clear pine. This section of the house is on a crawl space and the floors are light oak by R.L. Marek & Co., Albuquerque. (The couple’s colorful textiles and paintings— some by Spears— promise to contrast nicely with the pale woods and walls.) The eastern half of the house, which holds the master suite, is slab-on-grade and the floors are integrated-color concrete by Scott Golden, Golden-Seibert Co., Santa Fe.
The long south face of the house is well-glazed to tap the sun’s heat energy in the wintertime, and at its base is a long, concrete trough pool and fountain. Inside the great room, the sunlight reflecting off the water creates a long, shimmering pattern that moves during the day across the walls and the vault ceiling. “When there’s very little wind, it gets very calm; it’s almost hypnotic,” Spears said.
“The passive solar is working great. The orientation is the optimum for solar, which is 10 degrees east of south. We have hydronic solar for hot water which helps to heat the house, too, because it’s a Life Breath [hydronic] furnace.”
The architect made a little two-chair nook, part of which is all glass and projects out beyond the plane of the south wall, immediately adjacent to the pool. “That’s a great place to sit in thewinter and just soak up the sun.”
The house was built by Tierra Concept, Inc. Kurt Faust, one of the company’s principals, said it was a very interesting project. “It was a challenge, as it always is mixing steel and wood and figuring how things fasten to each other. We were using wooden I-joists in a way Beverley has done before, but the manufacturer said ‘Whaaat?’
“Probably the most challenging part was the skin on the bottom of the barrels, where we stretched fabric that had to be hidden behind the slats. The fabric was there to give a surface beyond the wood slats that was homogenous. It stretches the whole length of the room; that vault is 40 feet long, while the master-suite barrel vault is 30 feet. The slats are also for sound dispersion because a barrel-vaulted ceiling will focus sound.”
Spears, who had only been in the house for two months when I visited, emphasized that the house was finished, but that the furnishing and landscaping were not. She had been watering native piñons and had added ponderosa pines and crabapple trees. She was looking forward to indulging her great love for plants in designing and planting her garden, working with the natural landscape around the house.
She was glad the construction project was complete. “I really didn’t have fun doing this, always thinking I should have done that or if I do this it means I have to do that. It was so different doing it for myself. For clients, I just tell them what I think and they accept it or not. Now, I see mistakes I made, whatever, but all in all I like it very much and it’s very livable and Philip likes it.”
The Spears kitchen. Below, the architect on the roof with her vaults. Opposite, the south elevation with fountain and pool.