DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE
A PALATIAL PARADIGM OF
In a breathtaking culmination of their visionary design process, Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd. has artfully forged Fort 137, an architectural masterpiece that harmoniously merges modern elegance with the captivating ruggedness of the desert panorama.
PHOTOGRAPHY: STETSON YBARRA, STEPHEN MORGAN, AND DANIEL JOSEPH CHENIN
Architect: Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd.
Contractor: Forté Specialty Contractors
Civil Engineer: McCay Engineering
Landscape Architect: Vangson Consulting, LLC
Structural Engineer: Vector Structural Engineering
Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing: Engineering Partners, Inc.
Pool & Water Features: Ozzie Kraft Custom Pools
Millwork Design: Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd.
Furniture Fixtures & Accessories: Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd.
Art Consultant: Daniel Fine Art Services
AV & Controls: Audio Integrations
Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd., founded in 2014, is an award-winning design studio known for its boundary-defying creations and meticulous curation of integrated spaces. With a focus on luxury and a commitment to exceptional service, the firm operates with a limited number of commissions, approaching each project by delving into clients’ aspirations without preconceived notions or predetermined styles. This unique approach transcends conventional design disciplines, resulting in timeless and surprising creations that embody their clients’ visions. One such exemplary project is Fort 137, situated on the outskirts of Las Vegas Valley. This remarkable structure offers awe-inspiring panoramic views of the neighboring Red Rock Canyon and is bordered by protected government land. Recognized with numerous prestigious industry awards, Fort 137 stands as a testament to the studio’s ingenious and thoughtful design, solidifying its reputation as a true marvel of contemporary architecture.
Entrusted with the task of crafting a residence for a family deeply attuned to the allure of immersive environmental encounters, Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd.’s mandate was to create a dwelling that exuded both modern sophistication and a harmonious integration with the rugged magnificence of its natural environs. Spanning 15 months, the construction process prioritized an external orientation, featuring an entry rotunda, a shaded courtyard, and a panoramic view frame overlooking the picturesque landscape, in addition to an interior program encompassing a primary suite, secondary suite, three additional bedrooms, and a spacious communal living and dining area.
“Our selection for this comprehensive turnkey project stemmed from our ability to deliver an all-encompassing architectural and interior design solution, right down to the finest details, including the design, selection, procurement, and installation of furniture, fixtures, and accessories,” elucidated Daniel Joseph Chenin, the lead architect and founder of the eponymous firm.
The entrance rotunda of Fort 137 embodies the studio’s experiential approach, offering a contemporary interpretation of the fort structures that once speckled the desert landscape of Las Vegas Valley. Rising to an impressive height of 28 feet, the rotunda serves as a conduit between the external arid climate and the cool interior, its conical form providing a stark contrast to the linear contours of the living spaces. Upon stepping into the rotunda, the sound of cascading water from a stone fountain on the lower-level transports visitors from the arid desert heat into the illusion of a refreshing desert mirage, while a meandering staircase grants access to a rooftop lounge replete with a firepit and expansive views of the majestic desert expanse.
“In our quest to design architecture that addresses the sweltering and arid climate of the southwest, we delved into the settlement structures of 19th-century pioneers. The notion of a stacked rock structure reminiscent of their forts resonated deeply with us,” revealed Chenin.
Following this cool interlude, the rotunda guides occupants back into the desert climate, this time within an internal courtyard that gracefully blurs the boundaries between the home and its natural surroundings. Transitioning seamlessly, the courtyard, enveloped in shade, provides an ideal setting for family gatherings and meals, its backdrop enhanced by a mammoth 75-ton boulder unearthed during excavation. Inside the residence, two dual-purpose walls traverse the space from north to south, offering protection against external elements while defining the layout’s perimeters. Within these walls lie gathering spaces like a spacious lounge area, a dining room, a kitchen, an office, and a theater room, while the bedrooms and other intimate spaces are thoughtfully positioned along the outer sides of the walls.
Fort 137’s living spaces are thoughtfully organized into three complementary volumes, each meticulously designed to maximize comfort, efficiency, and ambiance. Encased within a sturdy steel framework and stone walls, expansive sliding glass panels, spanning an impressive 38 feet in length and 13 feet in height, grant unobstructed views from both the northern and southern facades. Not only do these glass walls provide breathtaking panoramic vistas, but they also facilitate cross-ventilation and usher in ample sunlight to an interior meticulously designed with angular precision to shield against the harsh elements of the desert, such as scorching sun and relentless wind.
The central flow of the open living and dining area effortlessly gives way to a set of adjacent, more intimate and private zones, housing the bedrooms and service areas. Each space, carefully oriented and curated for tranquility, allows for moments of solitude or quiet companionship with guests. The contemporary interior, offering a modest luxury, is ensconced in travertine floors, stucco ceilings, and vertical panels veneered in reconstituted wood, forming a warm embrace for the carefully selected furniture and art pieces handpicked by Daniel Joseph Chenin. Stone, wood, and brass accents abound, adorning custom door handles and intricately designed cabinetry throughout the interior.
“The project strikes a harmonious balance between robust and rugged exteriors and refined and detailed interiors. Yet, the lines between these elements are blurred by the singular vision of each component, seamlessly mirroring the colors and textures that echo the surrounding context of the Red Rock mountains,” concluded Daniel Joseph Chenin.
Not only does Fort 137 achieve its objective of being an integrated oasis of comfort and serenity amidst the desert valley, but it also endeavors to minimize its environmental impact. Daniel Joseph Chenin incorporated an array of design strategies to offset the carbon footprint and decrease reliance on the grid. These initiatives include a photovoltaic panel infrastructure, ballast roofing, passive cooling, thermal mass, and radiant heating. The project also prioritizes sustainability by employing reconstituted wood veneer derived from sawmill byproducts and waste, locally sourced materials, and repurposed rocks and earth extracted from the construction site. Materials like weathered steel, hot rolled steel, and travertine were specifically chosen for their ability to age and develop a patina that harmonizes with the desert sands, allowing the built environment to forge an even deeper integration with its natural surroundings.
From the awe-inspiring entry rotunda to the tranquil internal courtyard and the thoughtfully curated living spaces, Fort 137 stands as a testament to Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd.’s expertise and their ability to create a home that fosters a deep connection to nature while providing luxurious comfort. With its multiple accolades and commitment to sustainability, this desert sanctuary is an exemplar of architectural excellence and a captivating retreat for its fortunate inhabitants.