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Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects

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  • Steven Rainville
  • General Contractor: Rick Upham
  • Structural Engineer: Monte Clark
  • Tim Bies

Project Status



3,686 sq. feet



Room or Space


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Project Description

2009 RADA

Custom / More Than 3,500 Square Feet / Grand

In the high-desert landscape of sagebrush, scorching winds, and boundless sky, a house needs to be “hard on the outside, soft on the inside—like a Tootsie Pop,” says Tom Kundig, FAIA.

Designed for an artist, this house is a concrete block bunker, but its interior materials—Carrara marble kitchen counters, reclaimed barn wood, and plaster made from natural clays—are earthy and pleasant to touch. The floor plan lives like a studio, with a single large room combining kitchen, dining, and living areas, and above, a mezzanine bedroom supported by an exposed steel beam. It may be a fortress, but it feels like a glass house. Enormous windows on all sides, some as large as 11 feet wide by 8 feet tall, take in the Idaho horizon. That sense of prospect and refuge extends outdoors, where concrete block walls—11 feet high and twice as long as the house—protect the owner's flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees from the resident deer and antelope.

The contrast delighted the jury. “The allée of trees is so controlled and urban, surrounded by wild grasses and deer,” said one judge. “You can picture a mountain lion roaming around right outside.”
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