Zen Spa & Observatory — Sonoma, CA
Matching Vision Without Compromise
- 6,000 SF
- Studios Architecture
- Cello & Maudru Construction
- Merit Award, Structural Engineers Association of California Excellence in Engineering Awards, 2007
- Tim Griffith
The integration of architectural vision with intricate and innovative structural design realized – without compromise – the owner’s vision of a unique retreat. The design of this private space, with its own observatory tower, pushed the boundaries of structural engineering with a tight integration of architecture with structure.
Hover State: Each structural component articulated architectural purpose. The floating butterfly roof, a thin-plate covering the 70’ x 36’ column-free astronomical projection room, was achieved through a warped concrete post-tensioned slab with a woven mesh of strands that allowed tapered at the exposed edge. A sparse and irregular grid of columns allowed the roof to hover over the volume while laterally anchored back to a concrete core at the adjoining wet spa and service areas.
Custom Engineering: The facade mullions were custom-engineered and cantilevered from the foundation to enhance the floating of the concrete roof, and to allow architectural freedom above the transom.
Sky’s the Limit: The observatory building, which supports a 20” telescope, is a truncated pyramid structural formwith exposed cantilevered stairs. Laterally stiff precast concrete panels ensured compliance with the minute deflection tolerances for the telescope. Corten structural steel plate stringers formed the feature stairs matching the aesthetic of the plate steel cladding.
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