The Rising Trend of Sustainability in Design

There are always trends coming and going in the world of home design, but one niche quickly gaining ground is sustainable design: the practice of creating structures that reduce negative impacts on the environment. This presents itself in different ways, such as better built homes which lower energy consumption to homes built with green materials from responsible sources. The art of sustainable design is going to lead to the production of even more Architecturally Unique Homes™ in the future.

A huge aspect of sustainable design is advancements in building materials. Even if the physical design of a home may not be able to be altered, the use of more green materials can be. There are three main ways in which sustainable design has changed material selection.

1.  Modified Materials

Manufacturers are noting the swing towards green and are producing products to match this demand. Classic materials like wood, for instance, have been given a whole new effect through careful modification processes. Modified wood is the perfect example of how an organic material may be changed into a product better than its original form. Modified wood is still real wood, but far more dense, durable and long-lasting than regular wood.

The result is a product that still looks natural, but will outperform the majority of wood competitors. While it is still made of wood, the increased longevity helps ensures a longer-lasting design, making it a more sustainable option. Better yet, the modification process allows this wood to be used decoratively as well as structurally, for both interior and exterior needs.

2.  Recycled Products

There are two ways in which recycling positively affects the environment in building design. First, the use of recycled products helps reduce the need to consume new materials. Second, using materials capable of future recycling helps eliminate waste. Expansive homes, perhaps those with home theaters or studios, may need acoustic panels to reduce acoustic. Opting for a product made of recycled plastic is a more eco-friendly choice.

The use of wood within home decor is common and one of the best means of getting the wood wall look is to use reclaimed wood walls panels. These panels are reclaimed from old structures and given new life through a basic manufacturing process. The result is beautifully rich, weathered wood that can be added with minimal effort and without an intrusive remodel. Remodels bring material waste and tend to be avoided when possible in sustainable design.

3.  Smarter Choices

Another aspect of sustainable design is choosing materials based on their performance rather than their look alone. The ideal home will be built based on region specifics rather than what is simply popular. For example, harsh weather conditions can wreak havoc on home exteriors that aren’t designed for extremes. In this case opt for steel siding designed for residential use.

Selecting materials based on performance first and their usability in the specific region eliminates the need for repairs and excessive consumption of new materials being needed to replace the old. It also goes without saying that from the perspective of a homeowner, if a house’s exterior can handle the climate and is designed for the temperatures commonly encountered, energy bills will be lowered.

The future of sustainability in design is promising and seemingly limitless. Not only will awareness of environmental effects of housing change up the way homes are built structurally, there is also going to be advancement in green materials. Whether a homeowner or a homebuyer, being aware of the importance of sustainable design and what to look for in more eco-conscious homes is beneficial.

Matt Lee is the Founder of Lead Generation Experts. Founded in 2012, Lead Generation Experts helps businesses improve their digital marketing strategy. 

Meet HOMEnz: Winner of Phoenix’s Sustainable Home Design Competition – Pt. 1

When Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects won the City of Phoenix’s Sustainable Home Design Competition, her chief designer, Jay Atherton, hit upon a concept influential to the entire design process.

Their design was judged by a diverse nine-member panel, which included architects, green builders and city planners, based on a criteria of energy performance, sustainability, affordability, replicability, public rankings and overall creativity and beauty. The $100,000 prize, with parameters set by the City of Phoenix and the Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, went to the top creative minds who could present a cool, sustainable design at mid-level cost.

But, as it turns out, when Atherton began designing the home, the project later adopted as HOMEnz (“nz” stands for net zero), the creatively beautiful mandate focused his attention, rather than solely the sustainability angle.

Imirzian and her team plotted to build their design on a lengthwise N/S orientation, and it informed an earthy, Case-Study Home inspiration Atherton sought to sew into the design.

“As far as the sequence of how design reacts with the sun, I thought it be great to wake up with the sun on the east side,” Atherton said. “So, we put the kitchen and the common space, on the east side, where a lot of the glazing was placed.”

Like its Mid Century Modern forbearers, practicality informed the design: the floorplan doesn’t cramp the occupants and the glazing, similar to any MCM design, ensures light floods in which narrows the gap between interior and exterior.

“The idea of doing an extremely insulated exterior shell and yet providing this open, permeable floorplan that opens to the outside,” Imirzian said. “Achieving that beauty and the wonderful way we live in this region is the best aspect of the house.”

Yet, to win a competition called the “Sustainable Home Design Competition,” sponsored by the local municipality, you can’t get by on looks alone: it needs to be noticeably sustainable.

Some modern materials, like Structural Insulated Panels (SIP), framing boards sandwiched between insulation cores for walls, or fabric screens for the exposed glazing, eased energy efficiency decisions early on which benefitted the design process. Yet, the project prerequisites demanded 80% less energy use than what’s typically built in our climate; this significant bar, motivated a shift in the team’s aesthetic mindset. In the initial drawings by Atherton, 40% of the home contained glazing, which forced the team “to go back and become very targeted” on the placement and proportions of the insulation of the home.

This goal required the project to have specific technical know-how on board, so Imirzian and team tackled the problem with the assistance of the collective knowledge of engineers, contractors or various sustainable consultants.

For instance, HOMEnz’s base model scored a 30 HERS rating, notably low for a home, which calculates the efficiency of the shell of the house and the total energy use to operate the mechanics. (The average home built today receives about a 75 HERS rating, but the lower the number, the more sustainable the house.)

Stephen Mogowski of Desert Skies Consulting, provided clarity to HERS performance parameters and its intricacies which optimized their design’s performance, when their own knowledge of these standards was rudimentary for the advanced task. In equal measure, the critical input from Henderson Engineering was instrumental in their efforts: Imirzian credits the engineering team at Henderson, through their analysis of possible mechanical system & electrical loads solutions, for the ultimate success they had with their HERS score. Other knowledge that was practically indispensable was offered by Contractor Jim Furcini, of Furcini Construction, who evaluated the cost and numbers to make the project affordable to the masses, a critical project goal.

When they finally reduced their energy load consumed by powering the home beyond project guidelines, they got closer to off-the-grid energy, or net zero, goals. And this meant the overall efficiency of the exterior kept the energy inside, which in turn didn’t demand a powerful, costly mechanical unit to offset the heat gain.

Yet, in spite of the accomplishments bestowed upon them by the City of Phoenix, as well accolades elsewhere, Atherton’s mindset still doesn’t stress the sustainability angle but alternatively what achieving this goal allowed him to create as a designer.

“Part of the misnomer about sustainable, especially net zero, homes, is that you have to live like a hermit to keep that energy in,” Atherton said. “It is really important, especially in your home, that you know and are connected to what is going on outside, not by looking at your watch but by looking out your window.”

Stay tuned for Part II, when these flexible plans will be made available for free on the city’s website, and the first 10 consumers will receive building incentives, saving thousands in costs. The ultimate goal for these homes is to spur adoption on a massive scale to meet their 2050 Sustainability Goals, to their way to becoming a carbon-neutral, zero-waste city.


Five Minutes with Thamarit Suchart, Chen + Suchart Studio

On October 20, 2017, AIA Arizona held the annual AIA Arizona Awards Gala at the Phoenix Art Museum. Amongst the awards given were to The Kenneth, a townhome project we’re proud to represent in Tempe, that was designed by the local architecture firm Chen + Suchart Studio. For their hard-work, AIA Arizona presented them an award as a Distinguished Building. Before they started their architecture firm in 2003, the husband and wife duo of Thamarit Suchart and Patricia Chen cut their teeth gaining knowledge working alongside Wendell Burnette and at the Jones Studio.

Since then, any building bearing their design touch and imprint adheres to conscientious consideration of the materials and their relation to the environment they are constructed. Prior to The Kenneth, they were known for their tasteful expansion and renovation of an English Tudor home in the F.Q. Story Historic Neighborhood, as well as their design of the Yerger Residence, settled in a prominent Camelback Mountain location, which gave the landmark constant presence “in the experience of the house while creating other introspective moments.” These homes, as well as others, have also been awarded with top AIA Arizona honors.

We recently spoke with Thamarit Suchart about the design process of The Kenneth, its new designation as Distinguished Building, as well as being an elder architecture firm in the Valley. Below the Q&A are a complete list of winners:

What was one design element of The Kenneth that always stood out to you? 

The idea of using one main material, in this case corrugated metal, and exploiting the material to its fullest potential, how it is configured and manipulated and therefore establishes the architectural language for the project. All of this takes place while still creating a unique place to live.

Chen + Suchart has received AIA awards in the past, what sets The Kenneth apart from your past projects? 

The Kenneth was a big challenge for us as it was one of our first larger scale projects being an 8-unit development.  More critical as a challenge was the budget for the project. These units are a development that is an investment with budgets and returns as constraints.

The question and ultimate challenge became, how does one still create a piece of quality architecture within those parameters. Otherwise one ends up with more of the same developments we see time and time again that exist throughout our building environment.

Were you surprised by the accolades that The Kenneth received by the AIA?

We are always pleasantly surprised with the recognition we receive for the work that we do.  We enjoy the fact that we have received and continue to receive awards for the work we do that is judged from a jury of our peers. Each year these juries change and we continue to receive recognition from different juries of varying perspectives and backgrounds.

As an accomplished firm, how does it feel to have the opportunity to mentor young architects as you were mentored yourself by Wendell Burnette?

I am not sure if we can yet say we are accomplished, but we simply strive to design each and every project with architectural integrity.  We currently have one very faithful person working with us. The opportunity to mentor those with less experience than us is an enormous responsibility and one that we relish.

The mentoring is furthered by having the opportunity to teach architectural design studios for the past six years at ASU and University of Arizona.  Empowering the next generation through education is a responsibility that I enjoy.

What excites you about local design trends around town as an architect?

We do not really pay attention to trends as they are fleeting and, more often than not, superficial. Clients who choose to work with us come to us to develop a project that has design integrity and transcends trend or stylistic moves.

As an architect in this environment, I am excited about more and more people becoming increasingly aware of modern and contemporary homes that are true to this time and place. Too much of our built environment is a facsimile of an architectural language that has no roots in this place.  We hope to change our built environment one project at a time.


Full list of award winners:
Arizona Public Service 2017 Energy Award
Project: West-MEC Southwest Energy Campus
Architect: DLR Group | Westlake Reed Leskosky
Owner: West-MEC
Contractor: McCarthy
Salt River Project 2017 Sustainable Award
Project: Liberty Wildlife
Architect: Weddle Gilmore Black Rock Studio
Contractor: Okland Construction
2017 Theory + Design Award – Citation Award
Project: Beyond Borders
Architect: Aaron Tsosie
2017 Component Design Award – Citation Award
Project: Local Nomad
Architect: s p a c eBUREAU
Owner:  Lauren Danuser
Contractor: s p a c eBUREAU
2017 Urban & Regional Planning – Citation Award
Project: Arizona Canal Master Plan
Architect:  John Douglas Architects
Owner:  City of Scottsdale
Contractor: Howard S Wright
2017 Urban & Regional Planning Award – Citation Award
Project: Downtown Tucson 2050 Plan
Architect: University of Arizona, School of Architecture
2017 Unbuilt Award – Citation Award
Project: The National Museum of Afghanistan
Architect: Line and Space, LLC
Owner:  Afghanistan Ministry of Information and Culture
2017 Distinguished Building – Citation Award
Project:  Kenneth Place Townhomes
Architect: Chen + Suchart Studio, LLC
Owner:  Withheld Upon Request
Contractor: TLW Construction
2017 Distinguished Building – Citation Award
Project:  Dunlap Venue
Architect:  Matthew Salenger & Maria Salenger
Owner:  Valley Metro Phoenix
Contractor: Southwest Fabrication
2017 Distinguished Building – Citation Award
Project:  Mesa Community College Performing Arts Center
Architect: Jones Studio
Owner: Maricopa Community College District
Contractor: Layton Construction Co., Inc.
2017 Distinguished Building – Citation Award
Project:  Ghost Wash House
Architect: Architecture – Infrastructure – Research
Owner: Eric + Lauri Termansen
Contractor:  Build Inc.
2017 Distinguished Building – Merit Award
Project:  Casa Caldera
Architect: DUST
Owner:  Name Withheld
Contractor:  DUST
2017 Distinguished Building – Merit Award
Project: Barnone
Architect:  DeBartolo Architects
Owner:  Johnston Properties, LLC
Contractor:   Caliente Construction
2017 Distinguished Building – Merit Award
Project: Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building
Architect:  CO Architects in Association with Ayers Saint Gross
Owner:  Arizona Board of Regents
Contractor:   DPR Construction + Sundt Construction, A Joint Venture
2017 Distinguished Building – Merit Award
Project: Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science
Architect:  CoLab Studio & 180 Degrees
Owner:  Desert Botanical Garden
Contractor: 180 Degrees
2017 Distinguished Building – Honor Award
Project: Tucson Mountain Retreat
Architect: DUST
Owner: Owner’s Name Withheld
Contractor:  DUST
2017 Distinguished Building – Honor Award
Project: Environmental and Natural Resources Building (ENR2)
Architect of Record: GLHN Architects and Engineers
Design Architect:  Richärd+Bauer
Owner:  University of Arizona
Contractor: Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
2017 Distinguished Building – Honor Award
Project: Arizona State University Beus Center for Law and Society
Architect: Ennead Architects / Jones Studio Inc.
Owner:  Arizona State University
Contractor/CMAR: DPR Construction


2017 AIA10 Award
Rick McLain, AIA
2017 Client Award
Agua Fria Union High School District
2017 Arizona Architects Medal
Neal Jones, AIA
2017 Firm of the Year
Holly Street Studio
2017 Goodwin Award
Project: Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science
Architect: CoLab Studio & 180 Degrees
Owner:  Desert Botanical Garden
Contractor: 180 Degrees
2017 Educator Award
Mary Hardin, AIA
2017 Design Pedagogy
University of Arizona ARC297m/397m | Material Fabrication I + II
2017 Community Education
Camp Architecture
2017 Research Design Award
Project: Canyon View High School
Architect: DLR Group
Owner:  Agua Fria Union School District #216
Contractor: Chasse Building Team


Photography of The Kenneth by Matt Winquist

The Repositioned Legacy of Paolo Soleri, the Big Thinker

The story of the Paolo Soleri exhibit of his archived materials, entitled “Repositioning Palo Soleri: The City is Nature,” improbably starts with the construction of a bridge.

In 2010, the Soleri Bridge and Plaza in Scottsdale, a commissioned design, completed construction over a long gestation period dating back to the 1980s. In response, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMOCA) dedicated an exhibit to the architect’s varied bridge drawings over the course of his career.

When Claire Carter, the exhibit’s curator, dove into the Soleri archive for related conceptuals, she was shocked by the abundance of materials. Prior to Soleri’s passing in 2013, these riches produced two exhibits: one on the aforementioned bridges and the other on the evolution of designs of his city experiments, at Mesa City and Arcosanti.

The purpose of this final exhibition in the series is to interrogate an entire career of arcology-based designs, where the goal was fusing man-made architecture and ecological creations into one vessel. As it turns out, the “Repositioning Palo Soleri” subtitle itself is an important theme for the gallery.

“[In the past,] he was at the forefront of popular conversation, and now, even in Arizona, he’s thought of this wacky guy in the desert who built a city that didn’t work and it’s an extraordinary underestimation [of his work],” Carter said.

Much of the curated archive centers on Soleri’s unique design perspective, from the custom bells he made to the early models using the desert ground as a form, and eventually including melted flip flops for splashes of color.

Then there’s the piece de resistance: the more than 44ft of butcher paper that contain his vision of a pedestrian-friendly city at Macro-Cosanti.

A portion of the scroll on display, which takes up a majority of the exhibit, is massive, for lack of a better word. Soleri, using little red human figures for scale, created a lush city of ethereal styled structures connected by their practical connection to nature. From 12ft sheet to 12ft sheet, these scrolls were done without benefit of physical plans, yet they still flow together.

The scroll faces one side of a long free-standing wall in the middle — and there’s a noticeable aesthetic shift in styles when a visitor moves to the other side. For instance, a sketch of the Solimene Ceramic Factory, in Italy, a realized design from his early days, demonstrates his vision in action, where a ceramics ramp takes pottery to the gift shop below, but still fits a residential space into this hive-like structure.

In the first half of the exhibit, Soleri is “a maker” of his designs, yet, on the other side, this freewheeling, experimental concept becomes diluted when he acquired students to translate his vision of futuristic communities and cities into something practical.

“Part of what’s happening is he’s turning over the work to apprentices and they’re all in architecture and engineering programs; they’re not drawing like how Soleri draws” Carter explained.  “And so the translation for Soleri, which was a thought experiment, became a set plan.”

This concept of a set grand-scale architectural plan, with specific data estimates for his experiments confounded his critics, especially since the details didn’t interest Soleri so much as what the concept meant. This is where the perception of Soleri, the architect, diverges with Soleri, the maker, according to Carter.

“A lot of people were very suspicious of them. There were a lot of comments like, ‘I would never live in that beehive.’ And some people dismissed him because they viewed the large communities and mega-structures as authoritarian.”

The degree of materials on display at SMOCA makes this the largest exhibition in the United States of Soleri’s work since his collective works went on tour across the country in 1971. Most exhibits since have mainly took place in Soleri’s birthplace of Italy.

Because the models had been out of circulation for almost half a century, some were thought to be missing, either accidentally discarded or vanishing from the returning transport truck. Eventually, Carter found the rumors to be unfounded, when she discovered the three “missing” bridge models in the model room at Cosanti where they were placed and promptly forgotten following their tour across the country.

Much of Soleri’s approach to design came long before the green building practices of today became mainstream for their allocation of resources, using the minimalist of carbon footprints. Yet, when probed if Soleri, were he alive today, would be satisfied with the eco-friendly strides embraced by the likes of corporations and the average citizen, the curator’s hypothesis indicates otherwise.

“He’s not saying, ‘Lemme make a house that’s environmentally friendly,’” Carter said. “We’re ignoring the major problems, not dealing with things on a structural difference, that’s why he’s such a radical. That’s a paradigm shift.”

Repositioning Paolo Soleri: The City is Nature” is on display to visitors at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMOCA) from Saturday, October 14, 2017, to Sunday, January 28, 2018. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children.


Eldorado on 1st: a Vision Becomes Reality

It was a warm day in early May when Eldorado on 1st formally broke ground.

Ahead of the ground-breaking, the project’s renowned architect and visionary, Will Bruder, and the development partner Chris Chamberlain, of North American Development Group, surveyed their site. At that moment, the few footers and bits of rebar didn’t reveal the sophistication of the plans or the design hints of this former student of Paolo Soleri.

The most tourists or passerbys intuited of the final product belonged to the illustrations attached to the fence on the two curbs around the construction site, where Jay Atherton’s art installation now borders the sidewalk.

Now, fast forward to more than a year and a half later, and the concept art matches the reality. Once abstractly isolated to models and those lucky to hear Bruder himself describe the project, the building includes the many trademarks of his designs.

As you drive by the exterior, the site reveals the seamless mix of materiality, of exposed concrete block, blended with perforated and galvanized metal. If you come inside, you’ll observe the abundance of naturally lit rooms, especially in the space above the master bath’s shower — a sealed rectangular opening extends through the four levels which spills natural light from the top deck.

There’s the deliberate positioning of the project itself to take advantage of the landmarks, obvious highlighted spots like the neon signage of the Hotel Valley Ho, but less obvious is the workspace on the second level, where a thin rectangular window isolates the viewer’s attention to Papago Park to the south.

But, the appeal of any Will Bruder design is to discover those inspired touches on their own. Only three homes in the Eldorado on 1st development are available, with a furnished model open for interested, inquiring parties.

The sales office at azarchitecture/Jarson & Jarson Real Estate is open Monday through Saturday for presentations by appointment.

Images by Bill Timmerman.

Metro Market? Out in Front or Behind the Magic 8-Ball? 

Ready to predict the future? There are lots of ways from “educated guesses” to hard-core data crunching. For fun, we love the ubiquitous “Magic 8-Ball” for all its unpredictable and often humerous answers; with our all time favorite responses being “Reply hazy try again” and the classic “Ask again later”.

In reality, we rely on entrenched experience, serious analysis, and data review. So when it comes to observing our major metro real estate market we look to the pros. We are pleased to share some of the data we rely on when setting trends for the year.

azarchitecture/Jarson & Jarson Real Estate proudly present the Metro Phoenix Economic Snapshot for Mid-Year 2017. Our report features studies by two of the Valley’s leading real estate analysts, Elliot Pollock of Elliot D. Pollock & Company and Mike Orr of the Cromford Report. Both are leading firms that have successfully tracked and observed our market with keen success. We think you’ll enjoy having a copy of this report. You may also opt-in here for regular updates.

Overall, we are enjoying a strongly balanced market with a few outstanding bright spots coupled with softer demand in some particular areas and segments. From our perspective, we are in a normal and healthy market that should stay steady for the remainder of the year (be sure to read the Metro Phoenix Economic Snapshot for much more detail to this summary).

If you ever have specific and/or personal questions on market timing, trends and values, we hope you’ll remember to call on us as a trusted advisor. We are here to help!


All You Can Eat A/C: Summer Desert Living for $1.00/day!

Here we are again thrust into the jaws of a typical Arizona Summer. The time where most of us question the efficiency of ANYTHING related to living in our desert. The time where most of us discard a sensible “less is more” approach and look for the lowest temperatures delivered by the highest tonnage A/C available and at almost any cost!

It doesn’t have to be this way. We proudly represent VALI Homes, the preeminent builder of high-quality, high efficiency homes in Arizona. Recently one of the principals in their firm, Austin Trautman, is on a mission to chart just how efficient a VALI home can be. The results will blow your mind!   Check it out:

“We’ve been testing the efficiency of our current house at different interior temperatures. The low energy days in early May were with the A/C off and the house holding 75 or lower with no A/C and daytime temps into the low 90’s on some days.

We then put the A/C to 72 to see what it took to hold that temp (it feels quite cold in there). That cost a total of 40-80 cents a day with the fresh air supply on 24 hours!

Just to push it harder we set the thermostat to 68 and the outside highs have been well over 100. That is outside of the ability of most homes no matter what the energy use and also well beyond the design parameters for new “high performance” homes.  Our home is holding that temp without breaking much of a sweat and on only $1/day!”

This is truly remarkable. For what most people achieve only with fans and evaporative coolers, VALI gets in a no-compromise, fully featured, modern home. Their mission to deliver intelligently designed houses is wonderfully illustrated by these impressive stats.

We really put it to the test holding an open house on a 118F degree weekend (complete with open front door and the body heat of dozens of visitors)! Want to see it to believe it? You can stay here!

Documentary to Honor Architectural Photographer Pedro Guerrero

Pedro E. Guerrero, a Mexican American born and raised in (then segregated) Mesa, Arizona, had an extraordinary international photography career. Filmmakers Raymond Telles and Yvan Iturriaga (Latino Americans) showcase an in-depth, exclusive interview with Guerrero alongside his photography to explore his collaborations with three of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century: architect Frank Lloyd Wright and sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. Using his outsider’s eye to produce insightful portraits of important modernist architecture, Guerrero became one of the most sought-after photographers of the “Mad Men” era, yet his story remains largely untold.

A link to an online preview video can be found here:

American Masters – Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey highlights the milestones in Guerrero’s life: his serendipitous enrollment in photography classes, his 1939 meeting with Wright at Taliesin West (Scottsdale, Ariz.), his World War II service and his post-war magazine photography career in New York City, shooting interiors while his work with Wright continued.

Settling in New Canaan, Conn., Guerrero describes his life after Wright’s death, his work with Calder and the end of his magazine assignments because of his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War.  Guerrero returned to Arizona, where he lived until his death at age 95.  Guerrero’s second wife and archivist Dixie Guerrero; Nevelson’s granddaughter, sculptor Maria Nevelson; his friends, collaborators and architectural experts, including Martin Filler, also share insights and recollections.

American Masters companion website will feature a digital exhibit of Guerrero’s photography. American Masters will mount an Instagram photo campaign (#PedroPBS) inspired by Guerrero’s work, encouraging people to share their own local art and architecture photos. The best images will be featured on the series website, a video compilation on the American Masters YouTube channel and across PBS social media.

American Masters – Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey is a co-production of Paradigm Productions, Latino Public Broadcasting and Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with American Masters. Raymond Telles and Yvan Iturriaga are co-directors and co-producers,  Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters and Sandie Viquez Pedlow is executive producer for VOCES.

Produced by Latino Public Broadcasting, VOCES is PBS’ signature Latino arts and culture documentary showcase and the only ongoing national television series devoted to exploring and celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience. The series is presented by PBS SoCaL and supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Ford Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant Program. More information about VOCES is available at VOCES on Facebook or Twitter.

Set your DVR now! This promises to be an outstanding tribute to one of the most important American Photographers of our time. Don’t miss it!

Film + Conversation: Exhibition

The architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright often suggests that design is a reflection of humanity. The two concepts are intrinsically linked. To tie this to another Wright-ism,  “The space within becomes the reality of the building.”

So what does this mean for the occupants of an unhappy home?

That’s a question posed by writer/director Joanna Hogg’s drama ‘Exhibition,’ where the space within takes on a perpetual ennui. The film examines the couple’s relationship to their contemporary home, as SMoCA described as “a labyrinth, refuge, prison and emotional battleground.”

Join us tomorrow evening at the SMoCa lounge in Scottsdale for a showing of the film, which stars Liam Gillick and Australian punk-rock star Viv Albertine. Afterward stay tuned for a discussion with our very own azarchitecture agent Sherry Cameron.

It should be an interesting discussion!

The Multiple Apertures of The Pond House

The full version of this article can be read at Defining Desert Living

For 40 years, local architect Will Bruder has explored inventive and contextually exciting architectural solutions in response to site opportunities and the user’s needs. One of such creations, a modestly scaled 165 square meter weekend retreat, the Pond House, thirty miles south of Phoenix, bridges the metropolitan intensity of the city with an idyllic oasis of desert calm and contemplation.

Water in the desert always creates an oasis. An oasis draws plants and animals to it as iron to a magnet. So it’s not surprising this was the draw that led the owners of the Pond House to create a balance for busy city lives. The mystery of the Pond House starts with the land.

And what a place. At the top of Cave Creek, where geology and happenstance create a unique ecosystem that is quintessentially this state. Arizona roughly translates to “place of many springs,” so it could not be more fitting.

The Pond House sits at the blurred line between desert and the river banks. A natural swimming hole that occasionally feeds a raging river, at other times still pond, and in the driest of times, a remembrance of water.

Imbedded in a dramatic and ancient rock outcrop overlooking a natural stream that’s fed by the Cottonwood Creek, the location called for a sensitive approach and bold decisions.

Instead of committing to a typical full-scale home, the owners chose architect Will Bruder to create a modestly scaled sanctuary. The home would be simply about site and detail: A retreat of calm idyll of scenic contemplation where the noise of urban materialism would retreat into the rustle of cottonwood leaves.

He left nothing to chance.

Creating an intimate environment with functionality requires a level of connectivity of form, function and visuals, often not pursued in larger homes. Selectively placed windows of glass and colored translucent resins frame unexpected vistas and perspectives.

Viewed from the pond below, the house appears to blend, yet float gently above, the unique geology of its setting. Deep overhangs embrace the home in a definitive gesture of shelter.

Bruder positioned the home to nestle against the location, but disappear, which it does upon approach following a winding dirt path. What’s visible of the home is restrained: a sculptural wall and line that emerges from the Earth. The sloped coursing of the home’s stonewall elicits a sense of mythical ruins of past cultures.

A footpath guides you to the entry and the courtyard; a metaphorical canyon that offers the first glimpse of water, flowing invitingly from cast concrete basin and defining the entry court. The water quietly flows down a natural flagstone stair. A narrow slot of colored glass guides you to the door like a welcome mat of light, and invites you into the shadow-play of the foyer.

Walk down a few steps as you are drawn to the glow of east light beyond and suddenly you are released into the main living space with it’s elysian views, through carefully crafted comforts of selected materials and textures. Large sliding glass doors, a see-through hearth and spacious cantilevered concrete living deck help dissolve the line between inside and out.

Will Bruder likens these perspectives to “The architectural equivalent to living in a camera,” he said. “With the multiple apertures and lenses, the design and placement allow the owners to view their world as artists, from many different points of view.”

The full version of this article can be read at Defining Desert Living


The full version of this article can be read at Defining Desert Living

Federal Pizza (formerly First Federal Savings)

5210 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012

Phone: 602.795.2520

Whenever Upward Projects plans a new eatery, they always first acquire a location, then choose the cuisine. For Federal Pizza, it started vice versa.

At the time, they occupied only three restaurant spaces within about 500 feet of each other — now they have five — and surveyed neighbors who said they wanted a pizza place with drive thru.

In it’s past life, First Federal Savings housed just that and the vision of customers wrapped around the drive-thru, waiting for an order of wood-fired pizza, proved to great a vision to ignore.

It also helped that the 1969 Al Beadle building was a mid-century structure, which they all fancied. Some artifacts were easy to renovate, like his dome streetlights, others not so much, like the 1-inch steel underneath the old bank vault.

“We later found out that they inlaid that spot with steel to prevent people from tunneling up under the vault,” managing partner Lauren Bailey said.


The Vig Uptown (formerly Arizona Bank)

6015 N. 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85014

Phone: 602.633.1187

It doesn’t take much convincing to persuade someone that The Vig Uptown was once a bank. Just mentally erase a few things and one can easily picture where the teller made transactions and slipped out to adjoining rooms.

This attracted Tucker Woodbury and business partner Jim Riley to the former Arizona Bank location designed by Ralph Haver in 1962. Besides some atrocious dated décor from decades of occupancy, the tilt-wall construction of the property made it malleable for the partners to fulfill their vision for a second Vig location.

Most of Haver’s vision had been plastered over. Period pieces, like receded bowls of plaster molding, emerald glazed tiles and stained glass miraculously survived numerous renovations.

“We remodel many buildings where they’ve been ‘70s and ‘80s to death, meaning covering beautiful architectural elements with drywall, dropped ceilings, covering up what the original architects vision was.” Woodbury said.


The Chestnut (formerly Western Savings)

4350 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

Phone: 602.708.7679

Before The Chestnut opened as a new restaurant and marketplace, it was an innocuous location that everyone seemed to have on the tip of their tongues, yet no one could recall what business occupied the building.

In a former life, the building housed a Western Savings and hid some impressive architectural features. It concealed a massive square skylight at the center of the floor plan and an impressive view of the traffic from both sides of the intersection.

“It was almost like a blank space you drove by and you’re like, oh, there’s nothing, mostly because there’s nothing to commit to [memory],” Kirsten Steele, one half of the partnership, said.

Whenever she took her children to the pediatrician, the location slipped past her peripherals. It’s hard to miss now with a prominent yellow and black color scheme that popped out to both Steele and her sister/business partner, Marissa Hochman.

The Chestnut, an extension of the former Chestnut Lane, continues their dedication to locally sourced food, products and beyond. One day, Steele wants to expand upon their ecosystem by starting a farmer’s market.

“People always say are ‘you are competitors with this person,’ and we’re all different and provide something different,” Steele said. “It’s all about supporting each other and creating a space where you provide for the economy.”

The full version of this article can be read at Defining Desert Living

The Glenn Murcutt Exhibition and Studio

azarchitecture/Jarson & Jarson are proud supporters of this Exhibit.


The full version of this article can be read at Defining Desert Living

The Design School in collaboration with the Arizona State University Art Museum and members of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects have developed a very special exhibition of the work of Australian architect Glenn Murcutt that will display here.

Pritzker Prize Laureate Murcutt is world-renowned and noted for a body of work which subtly draws inspiration from the environmental conditions surrounding his designs. The exhibition provides an ideal vehicle to introduce Valley residents to the work of this world renowned architect, widely recognized for his ability to design projects notable for their response to challenges of climate, culture and communities.

The brainchild of The Design School Director, Craig Barton, the Exhibition was organized as a unique collaborative initiative between The Design School and the ASU Art Museum.  Architects and faculty members, and in collaboration with the Museum’s senior curator, Heather Lineberry, will lead an inter-disciplinary graduate studio which will design and install the exhibit in the ASU Art Museum.

The exhibition will be researched, curated, designed, fabricated, installed, and documented by a team of faculty and students from the School and Museum. Before starting the project, the students will travel to look at a few examples of world class architectural exhibitions. Accompanying the exhibit, The Australian Architecture Foundation has assembled a package of Murcutt’s work that includes drawings, renderings, photographs and models of a variety of projects that highlight Murcutt’s special genius for designing projects derived from a keen observation of natural conditions (Murcutt was designing “sustainably,” long before the term became fashionable).

Murcutt’s projects “touch the earth lightly”. Highlighting his nuanced responses to range of natural/climatic conditions this exhibition of Murcutt’s work would be of particular interest to those in our area as we respond to our challenging and changing environment. Additionally, the exhibition provides opportunities for schoolchildren, ASU students, members of the professional community and general public to see this master architect’s ability to design projects distinguished both by their stewardship of the landscape and evocative compositions of form and materials.

The exhibition opens in January and runs through early April.  “This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to design an exhibition which will help the public better understand the importance of Murcutt’s work to our community,” Barton said.

The full version of this article can be read at Defining Desert Living