Metal Architecture Home


A Metal Statement

Back ElevationThe owner of this custom home works in the metal industry and when architect Carlo Di Fede first designed the project, he envisioned a stucco exterior on wood framing. It echoed a plan the St. Helena, Calif.-based designer had executed for an earlier guest house for the clients.

But eventually, owner and designer decided to do homage to metal and the architect turned to Park City, Utah-based EcoSteel who engineered, supplied 3-D modeling, finalized the structural layout, created permit and construction plans and then delivered the framing, metal wall panels and metal walls to the site.


Steel Structure

Perforated Panels

The result of the collaboration is a tightly designed, well-executed custom home that provides 6,800 square feet of living space in a rural setting. One major enhancement of moving to steel, according to Di Fede, "was the structural and spatiality of the great room. When steel come into place it created an airy light feeling to the space."

The main element of that was the decision to use an open web truss system rather than EcoSteel's more commonly used wide-flanged steel. Referring to EcoSteel president Joss Hudson, Di Fede says, "There was a lot of cooperation there with Joss in engineering the design implications from what I was proposing. He made sure that happened."


Metal Panels

Much of the effort for both the design team and EcoSteel was making sure the metal panels worked correctly. Since the panels adhered so closely to a grid that matched the fenestration, the tolerances were very tight and rigid. Both teams worked back and forth, in concert with the steel erector, Idy Metal Buildings, Turlock, Calif.

stairwayThe result is an elevation that comprises a variety of metal panels from Morin Corp., A Kingspan Group Company, Bristol, Conn. The flat panels employ two dynamic, custom colors that pick up elements of the site. The barn red refers to the reddish tree trunks and a previously constructed outdoor kitchen, while the light green blends with other natural colors. This is particularly important in Napa Valley, which has view-shed requirements, ensuring homes that can be seen from countymaintained highways blend naturally with the surroundings. "There were a few bad examples of architecture," says Di Fede. "The 'here I am, come look at me' kind."

The homeowner is a car aficionado, and wanted a large garage (three bays) that could potentially be retrofit with a car storage lift. The perforated, ribbed metal panels wrap the garage, blending it visually with the rest of the house. Perforated panels also screen an outdoor shower on the back of the house.


Metal Interior

The great room provides the dramatic center of the house. The tall ceilings with open-web trusses and large fenestration create a bright and open room. Di Fede specced alder planks for the ceiling, leaving a 3/4-inch gap. Above the planks and below the steel deck, he placed acoustic fabric, which greatly reduced the noise level in the large, open space.

While the great room is the central gathering place, the spine of the house is the three-story, open-riser stairway that rises up in the red-clad tower. Designed and constructed by milk design, Chicago, the steel infrastructure supports mahogany treads. The steel cable balustrade keeps the space open, letting light shine through the tower from the ample windows. Milk design also manufactured the exterior railing.



Vital Stats

Private Residence, St.Helena, Calif.

Project size: 6,800 square feet including a 1,900-square-foot garage
Completion date: 2012
Architect: Di Fede Design Group, St. Helena, Calif.
Project manager: TMW & Associates Inc., Stockton, Calif.
Steel erector: Idy Metal Buildings, Turlock, Calif.
Metal building and panels supplier: EcoSteel, Park City, Utah,
Metal roof and wall panels: Morin Corp., A Kingspan Group Company, Bristol, Conn.,
Metal stair: milk design, Chicago,
Windows and doors: Fleetwood Windows and Doors, Corona, Calif.,