One of my favorite things I get to do with HangarSphere is discover. The second home built at Dave LeRoux’s Discovery Trail Farm Airpark could not have lived up to that statement and the name of the airpark any better. After learning all about the airport and the history of the airpark’s development to date, Dave introduced me to Paul and Mary Kuntz. They were the first to purchase a lot and build their version of perfection. The home’s design is key as it takes into account a multitude of design requirements based upon personal style, functionality, structural requirements, orientation of the lot, and even the surrounding fields and mountains in the distance.
During the mid-2000s, Paul was based in England while working for Boeing. With retirement approaching, he and Mary stretched their eyes westward over the Atlantic at possible locations in which to build. An airpark in North Carolina caught their eye initially but Discovery Trail Farm Airpark in the Pacific Northwest offered everything they desired: incredible weather, open spaces, boating, outdoor activities, and nearby civilization. But most importantly, it offered relative close proximity to their children who also live on the west coast.
The land was acquired in 2006 and construction commenced with the first of three phases beginning in 2007. The first phase would eventually become the home’s guest quarters and would serve as home base while the remaining two phases were constructed. In 2009, the entire home was completed and they were free to move into the main residence. The home’s total square footage is approximately 5,500 square feet with 1,500 square feet dedicated to the guest quarters and 4,000 square feet dedicated to the main residence. The hangar yields approximately 2,400 square feet and is home to his beautiful SINUS motor glider by Pipistrel.
Through the help of local architect, Mary Ellen Winborn, they were able to develop a home concept that embraced the surrounding views, their passion for aviation, the structural requirements of the community, and even some artifacts they acquired from their time abroad. The home capitalized on three primary features. First, they wanted to take advantage of being able to enjoy the panoramic offerings surrounding the home site. A porch in front of the house and windows throughout provide plenty of opportunities to sweep one’s eyes across the horizon taking in the white, snowcapped peaks of the Olympic Mountains in the distance and the airpark’s unique, dedicated green space just outside their front door.
The second feature within the home originates from England and is believed to date back to the 1800s. During their time in England, they found some surplus oak panels with leaded glass accents that were once part of a church. They were able to acquire the panels, ship them back to the United States, and then repurpose the panels into doors for the home’s front entrance and several interior doors within the home. It took some finessing as the panels were not made to be doors but with a little American ingenuity, they were able to make it work. The doors dovetail beautifully with the overall style and feel of the home yet provide an element that is truly unique and full of history.
The third primary feature is that of the hangar itself. Many airparks have CCRs relating to size, materials, and overall aesthetics of the home. Discovery Trail Farm Airpark is no different. In their case, Paul and Mary wanted to build their hangar so that it adds to the architectural flow of the home rather than draw from it. To accomplish this, Paul built stick models sampling various structural techniques to make the hangar look smaller than it really is without sacrificing the overall utility of the building.
Paul was able to achieve this task by utilizing an asymmetric roof in both pitch and length of the roofline. The roof on the back of the hangar is significantly lower and steeper than the front of the hangar. This helps diminish the perceived size of the structure. In addition, the roofline is broken up with a cupola that helps reduce the overall impression of the hangar’s size by interrupting long architectural lines within the structure.
With a hangar design in hand, the task of finding a metal building company to build a structure based on a balsa wood model took some doing. Paul approached a metal building company that promotes themselves as hangar specialists but they exhibited no signs of interest in the project and didn’t even return phone calls. Fortunately, a local company named HCI Steel Building Systems of Arlington, WA was able to tackle the project and provide all the engineering data required for the structure, the building permits, and, of course, the steel itself.
The last notable feature of the hangar is that of the hangar door. The door style is not that common in aviation as its vertical panels fold together like an accordion and only consume 18 inches of space on either side of the door when opened. This is not bad considering the total door length stretches 55 feet. In addition to the door’s compactness, the door requires only one person, no electrical power, and just the gentle push of the hand when actuating the door. Finally, the door’s metal frame is covered from top to bottom with translucent panels that permits the hangar to take full advantage of its southeastern exposure. Even in the dead of winter, the solar gain permitted by the translucent panels creates a cozy environment within the hangar.
The construction process went smoothly as their builder was a father and son outfit named Parry Construction. Father and son, Nick and Frank, respectively, were very in tune with the construction philosophy of “understanding the design before breaking ground.” Paul said that they are “very intelligent and meticulous. Frank works to a tolerance of 1/64 of an inch (really!) and when they are done, the entire home is absolutely plumb and square. For instance, Frank has tried lasers and does not think they are accurate enough. He prefers a water level that is simple but absolutely dead on…Cabinets go in without shimming or adjustment.” Paul went on to finish the trim of the house and said, “it was a blessing to be able to set up my saw for 90 degrees and 45 degrees, make finish cuts, and know they would fit.”
The house, the hangar, and the location are a perfect match. They can take an evening and fly above the mountains, enjoy a ride into town using converted rails to trails bicycle paths, or just soak up the views from their huge porch. Thank you Paul and Mary for sharing your version of perfection.