The 1930s-era home in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque needed an expansion.  Plans called for 2,700 sq. ft. of new living space, including a library/gallery, studio, exercise room, garage and covered breezeways, as well as a private outdoor courtyard animated by shadow and light.

This project “shows how an addition with a serious commitment to minimizing its environmental impact can be integrated into a historic neighborhood,” owner David Vaughan says.

The choice of building material was obvious; Vaughan works with the local Lite-Form distributor.

Tom VerEecke of Sun Shelter Construction served as general contractor and ICF installer. VerEecke has a reputation as a quality-driven residential home builder, but he’d never worked with ICF before. Vaughan wanted to use the building project as a demonstration training and teaching tool for local architects and builders.

The project looks deceptively simple – a collection of connected rooms grouped around a central courtyard – but the degree of restrained and meticulous finish work was a challenge.

There were site considerations as well. It was built behind the original Spanish Colonial-style house, and the addition was pushed to the outer limits of property setback lines. All concrete pours required an overhead boom line to clear existing structures and above-grade utility lines. Most of the construction occurred during the winter, which in New Mexico means many sunny, but below freezing days.

The sun was a critical design factor for this project.  The roof overhangs, windows, and building heights were all derived from the angle of the winter solstice sunrise, which maximizes morning light in the courtyard throughout the winter while providing shade in summer.

Solar energy also powers a 3kwH photovoltaic system, enough to feed excess power back into the grid. “There’s nothing more satisfying than watching the electric meter spin backwards,” says Vaughan, “unless it’s receiving the monthly rebate checks from the electric company. Rainwater is barrel harvested and retained to water landscape and vegetable garden areas.

The project has been called “a small ICF jewel in its attention to detail and design finesse.” It was given a Citation Award by the Albuquerque AIA chapter, and BuildGreen New Mexico Sustainability Award by SuCasa Magazine. It will also be featured in the annual AIA Home Tour.

“This was not only a high performance addition to an existing home,” says Vaughan, “but the striking design blends in with the aesthetic of the historic neighborhood.”

Project Statistics

Location: Albuquerque, NM
Total Building Size: (sq.ft.) 1,480 sq.ft. (addition only)
Sq. Footage of ICF Walls: 2,742 sq.ft. plus interior walls and underslab
Cost: $370,000 ($250/sq.ft.)
Timeline: Begun Nov. 1, 2007, Finished April 1, 2008
ICF Brand:Q-Form, identical to Lite-Form Technologies FLEXX-Block

Construction Team

Owner: David Vaughan & Martin Stupich
Architect: Sam Sterling Architecture General Contractor/ICF
Installer: SunShelter Construction
Form Distributor: Upland Corporation
Engineer: Walla Engineering