Cottonwood Modern – Steel Trellis

May 13, 2013 — 13 Comments

We have been working on the Cottonwood Modern project for a while now with most of the work focusing on running electrical and plumbing, putting in the fire sprinklers, and setting the recessed lighting. While this sort of thing (believe it or not) is very exciting for the homeowners, it doesn’t make for exciting updates – not unless you are super technical and really enjoy seeing how electrical wiring gets terminated at the electric panels.

That’s what I thought.

That’s why today – after a bit of a hiatus – I am going to show some of the work that is going on with a metal trellis we designed into the project. The good news is that it’s turning out just like we planned.


Barry Buford and Bruce Baughman

Just as a quick hey-o, these are the contractors that are working to make this house all that is can be – Barry Buford (contractor on the left) and Bruce Baughman (site superintendent on the right). These guys are crucial to getting the level of detail right on the project. I said it before but it bears repeating – even though a contractor is only as good as their worst subcontractor, it’s the contractor sets the tone of the project. If you don’t have good people at the top, you’ve got no chance for a good project at the end.


Trellis Wall Section

Okay, so I’m going to get a little technical on you – thought it might be interesting to include one of the wall sections at the metal trellis. There are another 10 or so details associated with this trellis but I am going to keep it high level and just present an overview.


Trellis connection to overhang

We have overhangs that wrap around each of the cantilevered rooms on the back of this project – and each have steel in them to make that overhang work. This trellis is spanning between two of the cantilevered boxes and provides some solar protection to the dining room and study. In the picture above, on the right hand side, you can see where the front edge of the metal trellis will attach to the overhang. There is a slight gap in place, we wanted to accentuate the overhang from the trellis but this space will eventually be filled in by a box gutter.


unpainted metal trellis members

This is a close up look at the louvers that will make up the actual slats of the trellis. Eventually all of this steel will be painted to match the color of the metal roof.


welders putting up protection before work begins

In this picture, the welders are putting up protection between the areas they are working and the finished windows that are already in place.


welders on the Cottonwood Modern

trellis connection to overhang finished

This is a look at the other side of the trellis where it connects into the overhang. In this picture, the welders have attached some of the metal louvers so it should be a little easier to visualize how this trellis will look once it’s completed.


welder siting on top of metal trellis

Looking down on the steel trellis from above. Really I just took this picture because a) I wanted to climb out on the roof, and b) I thought the idea that sitting on a few 2×8’s is the “comfortable” option for this project.

My back hurts just looking at this picture.


welders working on metal trellis supports

Wrapping it all up is a photo from the ground looking back towards (and up at) the trellis. Almost the entire wall below this trellis is 10′-0″ tall windows – you just can’t tell because the protection the welders have put in place.

I am happy that all the time we spent working out the connection details, solar angles, spacing of the metal pieces – all that technical stuff – will result in an extremely simple looking shading device.

Cheers –

Bob signature



Print Friendly

even better stuff from Life of an Architect

  • raul

    nice work. small question, how to deal with thermo bridging of hss penetrating building envelope? it is not a commercial project…still, no one wants to see condensation happening, particularly around wood frame structure.

  • Rob Brown

    Very cool

  • Richard

    One question Bob: Why not shop assemble the trellis and bolt in place?

  • Great idea with the trellis over the 10ft curtain wall – it’ll look awesome as well as work awesome esp with that Texas sun beaming down! My design question is what drove the decision to go with steel as the material of choice for the trellis?

  • superreader

    This looks really attractive and I expect it’s useful too. Will they be growing plants on it, too, or is it just for sun control & appearance?

    • Thanks!

      There won’t be any plants on it (at least, not that I know of). Mostly it’s for sun control and defining the space between the two cantilevered rooms.

  • Mark Mc Swain

    Kudos galore–metal is such an honest material; I simply do not know why it is not not more used in residential construction.

    Which is a shame as it blends with ‘natural’ materials like wood & stone so well (my own pecadillos about “buired” coursed masonry notwhitsanding).

    • The only reason I can think of is that it’s expensive. It suits a whole bunch of our projects but we can’t always incorporate it into the budget (which sounds crazy considering we have pretty nice budgets on our project).

      • superreader

        I can imagine. [sigh] I wonder, though- are there ways to use metals that’re easier or less expensive, but still look & function well? I’m thinking of reuse like grain silos &/or their parts, or common materials that in a designer’s hands can become amazing.

        • Mark Mc Swain

          I wish there was a way to better specify use of recycled materials.
          There are a bunch of very creative people out there on the subcontractor side who are willing to engage3 their creativity to meet these needs. It’s just that the contracting process can get in the way.

  • We’re doing a project right now with steel louvers similar to your trellis.


    • you’ll have to send me photos of the finished product – I’d love to see it!