River Street House
Fort Benton, Montana
single family residence
2800 sqft

This project is a single-family home on a corner lot at the Northeast end of the city of Fort Benton with views to the Missouri River and historic levee.  The house sits on a full daylight basement that is a self-contained guest suite with two bedrooms, a full bathroom and kitchen.  The main living space comprises 2,200 s.f. over two floor with three bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms and 80 s.f. ‘lantern’ at the roof level, ideal for taking in the sweeping views.

The main floor level is a series of layered public spaces that open and close one from the other as one moves through the open plan.  The house is designed to take advantage of passive strategies for both light and ventilation while protecting against the extremes of Montana seasons.  The windows are configured vertically to help limit excessive solar gain in summer while providing ample natural light year round.  The windows also run floor to ceiling with operable units close to the floor to encourage cooling ventilation across floor surfaces.  The roof lantern is fully glazed, and provides a stack by which the entire house is exhausted of excess heat during the summer months whilst providing a comfortable viewing platform year round.  The second floor is composed of the more private spaces and is accessed via a partially open stair, screened by the “library” that rises through the two-story opening.

The house is heated using a combination boiler that feeds a warm concrete floor at the main level and individually zoned radiators in each of the rooms at the second floor and lantern.  The exterior siding consists primarily of 1x6 wood boarding reclaimed from Wyoming snow fence, installed in a weather screen application.  The remainder of the exterior is clad with custom pre-finished metal.  Keith Ballantyne undertook the construction of this project as architect, carpenter and general contractor, thus taking the opportunity to pursue an interest in building but more importantly gaining an invaluable education into matters of building.