Project Challenge

The climate of Death Valley is far from forgiving. "The hottest place on Earth," this California desert is baked by temperatures averaging 116 degrees in July and cooling to a "chilly" 67 degrees in the heart of winter. The intense heat is compounded by a significant lack of rainfall throughout the year. In fact, the region may only see a couple of inches of rain in an entire year.

Buildings in this area face accelerated wear as exteriors contend with extreme temperatures. The powerful rays from the sun and hot, dry air make it more likely for doors and windows to fade, warp or crack far quicker than in other climates. In addition, structures must be properly insulated to help keep the heat out and room interiors cool.

Architectural Solution

Pairing substantial design flexibility with the latest in energy efficiency technology, JELD-WEN® Custom clad- wood windows combining the durability of AuraLast® wood and finishes meeting the AAMA 2605 Standard were the optimal solution for this project.

To begin, each window needed to be custom measured and fitted to its location. The century-old buildings featured many openings of different sizes and shapes that may have further warped, shifted or settled over the decades due to the intense heat. To further complicate the process, many openings feature eye-catching designs that reflect the trademark Furnace Creek aesthetic, such as the signature palm frond etched glass entry doors, inverted curved transoms, radius windows and custom interiors.

Once the architecture teams were confident in the design of each window, it was necessary to select the ideal materials to enhance the style of each space while also helping to protect the structure from Mother Nature. Interior windows were paired with custom paint colors or rich, stained woods, including reclaimed fir, to evoke the fine finishes and natural, rustic atmosphere of the inn’s various interiors. Exterior windows utilized clad wood that would maintain the building’s color scheme while eliminating the maintenance headache of hand-painted wood frames.

Finally, it wasn’t enough to design custom products for each space. In some cases, a custom installation process was also needed. Some of the facilities at Furnace Creek feature original adobe masonry that utilizes straw as a binder. A unique anchor system was called for that would hold each window in place without sacrificing the structural integrity of the building.

For one last challenge, each install team had to work at a much more rapid pace than normal. The epoxy used to aid in the installation of many doors would dry much more rapidly than usual due to the extremely arid, hot climate.

"One of our biggest selling points is our very unique climate and geography here at Furnace Creek, but it can also be one of our biggest challenges in terms of maintenance," said Bill Sherwood with Furnace Creek. "While we looked at several options, JELD-WEN was the best partner to provide a solution that would maintain the historic look and feel of this property while also incorporating the modern technology that will help Furnace Creek maintain energy efficiency and keep our guests comfortable year round."

Handcrafted for unique designs, JELD-WEN® Custom clad-wood windows are available in a wide variety of wood, interior finishes, exterior cladding and paint colors. Find more information here.

Project details

  • 85- JELD-WEN EPIC doors with commercial hardware
  • 118 - JELD-WEN Custom clad-wood casement windows
  • 236 - JELD-WEN Custom clad-wood double hung windows
  • 21 - JELD-WEN Custom clad-wood geometric in sash windows
  • 19 - JELD-WEN Custom clad-wood windows awning windows

Project team

  • Furnace Creek Inn
  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts
  • American Building Supply
  • CLK Installations
  • Page & Turnbull Architects
  • JELD-WEN Architectural Services Group