Nakai Residence

The Nakai residence was constructed for Lorraine Nakai, a Navajo, academic and avid collector.

In the middle of the desert with three existing structures on-site the team sited the building to create an outdoor communal courtyard. The home opens to the south to accept the cool breezes in the summer, while the building shields the courtyard from the cold western winds in the winter. In response to the geomorphology of the site, the roof gestures up to the tree on the northeast and the nearby hill to the southwest. The building is clad in recycled spandrel glass. The glass reflects the landscape and nearby historic homes.

A 50-foot long bookcase on the interior of the home showcases the client’s collection of books, acts as the kitchen and sleeping nook while creating a threshold for private spaces behind it. The bookcase terminates at the window seat at the north end of the building. This reading nook is cantilevered under the lone tree on the site. The public zone of the floor plan is a large 11’ wide x 50’ long space beside the bookcase. The fireplace, an integral part of the Navajo culture, is the singular element in this space simply dividing the living room, dining room and kitchen from the art studio and bedroom.

in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah

2014 ACSA, Design Build Project
2012 AIA Colorado YAAG Project of the Year- Honorable Mention
2012 AIA Colorado YAAG People’s Choice Award
2012 Design Excellence Awards People’s Choice Award

James Anderson
David Hevesi
Zia Hooker
Courtney Hughes
Cameron Minor
Milen Milev
Michelle Pollock
Josh Young
University of Colorado Denver:
Rick Sommerfeld

DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah:
Hank Louis
Andrew Foster
Craig Harren

Structural Engineer:
Christopher O’Hara - Principal
Studio NYL Structural Engineers
Big D Construction
Simpson Strong-Tie

College of Architecture and Planning

CU Denver

CU Denver Building

1250 14th Street


Denver, CO 80202


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