Truckee architect builds outside the Old Tahoe box |

Truckee architect builds outside the Old Tahoe box

Joel Sherman

Truckee-architect Joel Sherman doesn’t necessarily want to design another Old Tahoe-style home.

Although he’s happy to do it, he admits, because that’s what most people in Truckee-Tahoe want, and it does pay the bills.

What he does want to design are homes that are a little different and infuse indoor with outdoor.

“Mother Nature does a lot better job than I can ever do,” Sherman said.

Sherman is the owner of JLS Design, with offices in Reno and Donner Lake. His unique designs have won him a few awards from the American Institute of Architects, one for his Truckee Tahoe Airport terminal design – a design that was bypassed by the airport’s board of directors.

He also received an honor from the AIA for his work on the Stal Tres Hus (steel tree house) in Tahoe Donner.

Sherman’s first project in Tahoe was in Incline Village in 1992. He was working for a firm in Los Angeles at the time, but some friends convinced him to move to Truckee.

Now that he’s up here, Sherman doesn’t have much good to say about the design of Tahoe’s homes – but he doesn’t blame it on the architects – he blames the status quo.

He uses influences like Frank Lloyd Wright to adapt a design by using the natural features of the site.

“People say, ‘That’s so modern.’ But it was modern in, like, 1922. That’s what I’m fighting up here,” he paused. “But it’s the same fight everywhere.”

Although he’s proud of the uniqueness of his designs, he concedes that what he’s doing is the “same thing, but with different skin.”

In the future, Sherman said he wants to work toward design-build because so much of the design process continues until the home is complete.

“It’s not architecture until you walk through it,” he said.

Contact JLS Design at 587-5232 or

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