• The project puts its net-zero features on display, including a large rooftop photovoltaic array. Photo by Andrea Calo

Location Dallas
Client TreeHouse
Architect Lake|Flato Architects
Architect of Record Looney Ricks Kiss
Design Team Lake|Flato: Ted Flato, FAIA; Lewis McNeel, AIA; Daniel Mowery, AIA; Heather Holdridge, Assoc. AIA; John Taylor Schaffhauser. LRK: Craig Henry, AIA; Jason Kaseforth, AIA; William Petersen Jr., AIA; Carlos Mireles; Carlos Fernandez
Photographer Andrea Calo

Heading north along Highway 75 in midtown Dallas, as you cross over Walnut Hill Lane, if you look to your right, you can catch a glimpse of an irregular saw-tooth shaped roof covered in solar panels. Depending on the time of day, you might be able to stare at it for quite some time. This new structure may seem a bit out of place in a highway-adjacent district of pubs, restaurants, and shops, but from any distance you can conclude that this is not your typical home improvement store.

This part of town has undergone a resurgence of late, involving renovations and tear-downs of “outdated” retail strip centers. In the midst of this regeneration is TreeHouse, Dallas. Designed by Lake|Flato, the 30,000-sf net zero energy retail shop provides consulting services and products for sustainable home construction and renovation to compatible — or just curious — average consumers. “[We felt that] the TreeHouse Flagship Store … was an important project to recognize,” Anne Schopf, FAIA, says. “It’s groundbreaking, in that it’s net zero as a big box store. It doesn’t look like a box store.”

The structure has a character unique to the local area and to TreeHouse’s purpose. The large entry overhang gives a welcoming view on the interior while accentuating the large roof structure and pointing up its solar capabilities. It also directs attention to the outdoor sales area that was designed to protect the single existing heritage red oak tree.

The interior spaces are sparse, with a limited material palette. Most of the systems and elements of the building are exposed, a move that expresses the ideology of the company.

Large north-facing clerestory windows on each section of the saw-tooth roof admit a gracious daylight that cascades throughout the volume. Depending on the cloud conditions, the clerestories are the only source of light in the space. The open floor plan allows the light to permeate the spaces, which are arranged around the central core of the main circulation stair, services, and the Tesla battery cluster that powers the facility. The monumental wood-encased stair leads to upper classrooms and office areas. The display of the Tesla battery bank is used as an educational tool for visitors. The synthesis of the client’s ideologies and the design and construction of the project attracted the jurors.

“It’s a responsibility to fuse whatever the sort of social or corporate agenda is along with aesthetics and choice of material, and a responsibility both to the community and to the planet,” said Eric Cesal, Assoc. AIA. “There was a tight integration between the choice of materials, the design choices going into the building — as well as the social agenda and corporate strategy of TreeHouse.”

Andrew Hawkins, AIA, is principal of Hawkins Architecture in College Station.

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