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  Custom Residence
Build Type
  New build
Square Footage of Home
  -up to 3,000 square feet of finished space
Project Name
  Beacon Hill Passive House
Project Address
  Beacon Hill
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
United States
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Homeowner’s Approval
  I have notified and the homeowner is aware that their home is being submitted and may be published in print and online.
Project vision or goals

The first PHIUS-certified Passive House in Missouri, this home was designed for owners invested in creating a warm, welcoming and sustainable legacy for their family and the revitalized urban neighborhood of Beacon Hill. Sited at the origination of a linear park, the NW corner of the house is eroded to create a two-story protrusion offering views of downtown Kansas City and the park. An expansive gabled roof provides cover at the entry porch, offering a welcoming gesture to the neighborhood. The exterior design is modern, yet contextual, alluding to the traditional forms found throughout the existing homes in the neighborhood. The west façade is warm and inviting, with cedar-lined walls and ceilings at the entry porch, leading to a custom-built R-11 white oak entry door.

Inside, the space is calm, quiet, and comfortable due to the materiality and envelope tightness. White oak is found on the cabinetry, floors, wall caps, and flush-nosing stair treads and risers, as well as at a stair screen providing an anchoring focal point to the living space.

The new structure, with super-insulated SIPS walls, trussed roofs and intentionally sized overhangs to effectively manage solar infiltration, is a modern-yet-contextual, high-performance home offering superior indoor air quality and comfort, and enhanced environmental controls.

Project challenges
  The siting of the building on a narrow, sloping, 40-foot-wide urban lot, with the goal of properly managing southern solar exposure and privacy while simultaneously offering views and open space, proved to be a challenge. Solar access to future rooftop photovoltaic panels needed to also be considered, especially during the winter months. This was exacerbated knowing that the vacant lot to the south could someday be occupied with a 35-foot-tall structure of its own. Additionally, we were tasked with providing a means of accessible access for a relative with mobility issues.

The clients’ overall goal of designing a PHIUS certified house presented several knowledge-based challenges. These included understanding complex wall and roof assemblies, air barrier systems, environmental systems and controls, indoor air quality systems, and the PHIUS certification process.

The implementation and performance of the high-performance building components presented many technical challenges. One example was at the roof trusses, where there could be no current or future penetration of the air barrier to the insulated attic. This was also the case at the cantilevered canopy at the south deck, in which trusses spanning from interior to exterior presented numerous opportunities for outside air to infiltrate the air barrier and enter the home. Finally, the project repeatedly failed to meet the extremely-high PHIUS standard for the blower door test due to microscopic holes at the ductwork joi
Project solutions
  After studying the site and solar patterns, it was determined that the singular, narrow, linear mass placed as close to the northern property line as feasible would be most appropriate for the home. This provided relief for a usable southern yard and deck and allowed for an expansive exposure of south-facing roof and wall. The NW corner of the house was eroded to respond to the curving street bed as it split to become a boulevard with a central linear park. A two-story glass protrusion was created as a result of the erosion, allowing the major living areas to capture views of the linear neighborhood park and downtown Kansas City. Found beyond a solid, super-insulated white oak door, the entry and stairs were placed along the sparsely fenestrated north wall of the recessed corner to maximize privacy and thermal performance.

An expansive gabled roof was designed with intention, as oversized southern overhangs manage the unwanted summer sun and welcome the winter light entering the second story. Overhangs to the north are unnecessary, and therefore, minimal, as solar infiltration is not an issue. The roof also provides cover and shading at the welcoming cedar-lined front porch. The pitch of the gable roof was designed to optimize the capture of solar energy through future photovoltaic panels. To ensure that solar infiltration was managed at the first story, a cantilevered canopy was created outside of the dining room sliding doors, and southern glazing was overall limited.

The house was raised two feet from natural grade to increase the overall height, alleviating concerns of future development blocking exposure to southern light. The additional height allowed for a “basement” garage to be tucked under the east end of the home. Of course, raising the house was contradictory to the goal of providing accessibility. To counteract this move, a procession of generously sized landings leads from the sidewalk to the home, creating gentle and gradual vertical transitions that allow ample opportunities for pause.

In order to achieve the goal of designing a PHIUS certified house, a team of knowledgeable building professionals with PHIUS expertise was formed. Collaboration and coordination were paramount throughout the design and construction process to ensure the project's success.

Air sealing strategies were implemented that required careful planning prior to construction. A specialized “coffered” roof truss was designed to allow the HVAC trunk lines to run through the conditioned space of the home without penetrating the insulated attic air barrier. The ceiling was furred down from the air barrier to create a chase for the electrical wiring. A cantilevered truss was designed at the canopy and fully insulated to ensure that thermal and air-sealing performance wasn’t lost. The blower door test was finally passed by spraying airborne air sealant into the ductwork and creating negative pressure, driving the sealant into all remaining openings.
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  Kala Performance Homes
Project Images (professional photography required for ALL project entries)
Floor plans, Elevations and Drawings (required for any remodeled entry)
  Beacon-Hill-Passive-House_context-diagram Beacon-Hill-Passive-House_massing-diagram Beacon-Hill-Passive-House_plan-corner-detail Beacon-Hill-Passive-House_site-diagram Beacon-Hill-Passive-House_solar-diagram Beacon-Hill-Passive-House_solar-section Zweifel_Floor-Plan Zweifel-Section3 Zweifel-Section2 Zweifel-Section
Photographer Name
  Nate Sheets
Photography Company
  Nate Sheets Photography
Photographer Phone
  (816) 309-2407
Photographer Email
  I have confirmed with my photographer and I own the publishing rights to my photography. I grant designKC magazine consent to publish these images online and in print.
Product Qty Unit Price Price
Entry Cost
1 $175.00 $175.00
  Sub Total $175.00
  Total $175.00

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