Humans have a primal desire to live by the water, even if it means assuming some hardships to do so. In the case of this second home project on the steep shores of Lake Tahoe’s Crystal Bay, the challenges fell to Ro | Rockett Design to solve. “It’s an incredible landscape of prehistoric boulders strewn down these hillsides. The water is almost Caribbean blue and super clear,” says Zac Rockett. “But it’s also a seismic area and the snow in winter is so heavy and wet, they call it Sierra cement.”
Heavy snows, immovable boulders, stunning views to capture, and a steep descent from the roadside combined with the client’s affection for his childhood cabin to drive the design. The firm’s solution—three connecting cabin-like volumes that “kink around a massive boulder” and climb down the hill—secures lake views for key rooms in the house and carves out multiple outdoor destinations.
A 55-foot-wide window wall of low-reflectivity sliding panels sourced from Portugal opens the great room to the water view and helped the project pass the local design review conducted from a boat in the lake. “It was quite the squeeze play to make it all work and get the right elevations to grade,” Zac concludes.
Lake Tahoe Cabins
Incline Village, Nevada
Architect: Zac Rockett, AIA; Jason Ro, AIA; David Kornmeyer; Andrew Alexander Green; Anthony Giannini, Ro | Rockett Design, Los Angeles, California
Builder: SierraCon, South Lake Tahoe, California
Landscape architect: Design Workshop, Stateline, Nevada
Structural engineer: CFBR Structural Group, Reno, Nevada
Project size: 6,000 square feet
Site size: 0.41 acre
Renderings: Zore Studio, Trnava Slovakia