Sapphire Gallery

The Sapphire Gallery is a residential addition designed to display a private collection of contemporary art while also providing for a home office with views to the surrounding hills. The owners’ collection includes work by the artists Gregory Crewdson, Uta Barth, Tomoroy Dodge and the video artist Jennifer Steinkamp, and they expressed interest in a new building that would be more than just a container for their expanding art collection. The new building would have be multivalent; with suitable spaces for the artworks, but it would also have to be open to the views, provide for various domestic program spaces, and create a compelling new focal point for the approach and entry to the residence.

The new structure is grafted onto the circulation spine of the existing house and lifted off the ground to provide a minimal footprint. Freeing the ground plane creates a new multi-functional ardscape/landscape area for the family that they use as carport, children’s play area, for art parties and video projections. A structural system of lightweight braced frames was developed. They were factory built and assembled by crane in one day. These trusses rest upon moment frames that clear span the open ground plane in the perpendicular direction, and the floor and roof diaphragms are infilled with typical 2x wood framing.

The system proved to be a remarkably simple, flexible and cost-effective way to achieve the program parameters of the project. The remaining details are simple and direct: casement windows, quartz pebble flooring, steel stairs and railings with perforated panels, infill walls of gypsum board with floor to ceiling pivot doors, full height glass with a ceramic coating for UV and solar protection. An array of photovoltaic cells on the South facing sloped roof produces an average of 15kWh per day, enough to supply all the energy for the new building with a surplus directed towards the main house. 

From the architects 


10 photos and 5 drawings

Building Activity