Nighthawk Retreat

Eastern Cascade Foothills, Washington

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A remote south-facing ridge along the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Wind-driven snowy winters and hot arid summers with occasional brush fires characterize the severe climate. No public utilities were available.


A family vacation retreat offering seclusion and connection to the natural environment. The site is off the grid, so solar electrical generation and energy conservation were critical to the success of the project.


The V-shaped house is cut into the ridge, allowing for an earth-sheltered passive solar design. The concrete roof and retaining walls allowed the house to be buried under four feet of earth – offering insulation in the winter and cavelike cooling in the summer. Concrete overhangs provide snow control and solar shading. Rolling metal shutters serve the dual purposes of forming a second skin which offers additional thermal control, as well as fire protection and security when the retreat is not in use.

Awards & Publications

  • Sustainable Merit Award 2010 Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards
  • Residential Structures Award 2010 Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards
  • Honorable Mention CRSI 2010 Design Awards
  • “Building with Concrete”, Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 30 April 2010
  • “21st Century Houses: 150 of the World’s Best” by Robyn Beaver (Australia), 2010
  • “Masterpieces: Country House Architecture + Design” by Michelle Galindo (Switzerland), 2011