(Re)introducing The “Soleri House”

There was only one Paolo Soleri, an Arizona legend in the world of design and architecture. Soleri is perhaps best known for his “Soleri Bells”. In addition to his visionary architecture, he was a ceramist as well, which allowed him to fund a great deal of his experimental concepts. Soleri established his home on Doubletree Ranch Road in Paradise Valley, naming it Cosanti. There he established a community of innovative architects, designers and artists producing his now famous ceramic and bronze bells. The Cosanti Foundation also funds Arcosanti, located 70 miles north of Phoenix established by Soleri in the 1970’s, focusing on combining both architecture and ecology. The community continues to carry out the legacy of Soleri’s dream.

Except for his open properties, this is the only residence Soleri designed that was completed. It was designed exclusively for, and with the input of, Dino DeConcini in 1982-83. Mr. DeConcini is a former Chief of Staff to the Governor of Arizona (1972). Dino’s brother is the former Democratic Senator from Arizona, Dennis DeConcini. This home is located on North 21st Street in the Biltmore area of Phoenix and, until now, has been known as the DeConcini Residence. Most recently, in January of 2019, the home was purchased by new owners who are now referring to this remarkable home as the “Soleri House”. The new owners are excited to be a part of the rich history that Soleri has played in the realm of architecture and design in Arizona and azarchitecture/Jarson & Jarson is proud to have represented both the buyer and the seller in the transaction.

Pictured, left to right: Patrick McWhorter, CEO of Cosanti Foundation, Scott Jarson and Monica Holtzhauer of azarchitecture/Jarson & Jarson Real Estate, JT Marino, Sarah Marino, John Walsh, President of Board of Directors – Cosanti Foundation


Top 5 Tips for Successful Adaptive Reuse Projects

The abrupt closure of the DeSoto Central Market in Downtown Phoenix left many in the local community shocked over the unannounced closure when they shuttered their doors on Aug. 21. But, what defined the character of the structure wasn’t an eclectic local gathering space with a nearly a dozen restauranteurs and vendors also occupying the space.

Instead, the appeal rested where those gathering were contained: the original 1928 red-brick building itself. The building represents a recent construction trend in Phoenix of new stewards taking tired, dilapidated structures and renewing them for different business purposes. This trend is called ‘adaptive reuse,’ a practice for which the City of Phoenix has embraced in the last decade. However, adaptive reuse isn’t simply confined to remodeling an ancient building — as defined, the program can benefit any existing structure built prior to 2000.

While there is no indication what factors forced the seemingly infallible DeSoto Market to close its doors after just three years, there is no set course for what makes a successful adaptive reuse story and what doesn’t. Sometimes, as in the case of DeSoto, we may never know what went wrong. Luckily, an Office of Customer Advocacy exists within the city bureaucracy, designed to guide a property owner through the maze of permits and zoning during the development process. Keeping this concept in mind, we recently inquired to Renee Pena, a seasoned City Planner from the Office of Customer Advocacy (OCA), about tips a property owner can perform to ensure a successful rollout of their new business in old digs.

Ensure the location has the correct zoning and land entitlements for the type of business that is proposed. 

Generally, small businesses have tight time schedules and budgets and also need to open doors and bring in revenue quickly.  Establishing land entitlements through a public hearing could delay a project anywhere between 8 weeks to 8 months and that is assuming the hearing results in an approval. 

Research the current and proposed building occupancy. 

This is especially crucial for small businesses, as changing a building occupancy in an old building almost always requires life safety upgrades, such as fire suppression systems, additional restrooms or accessibility upgrades. More often than not, the delay in time and cost of construction for these improvements are not factored in by business owners. Owners may fall in love with the surrounding area or a buildings curb appeal, but due diligence is key before signing a lease or purchasing a property.  

Will the new business require additional parking and/or does the site provide adequate parking? 

Older buildings may have an existing parking condition and business owners may assume they don’t need any more than what is currently on a site. A typical example would be a retail shop converted to a restaurant or bar, not adding any square footage to a structure or doing any exterior work. 

Retail only requires 1 space per 300 square feet, a restaurant requires 1 space per 50 square feet. A small 2,000 square foot retail shop only needs 7 spaces, but the conversion to a restaurant would require 40 spaces. This can be a significant issue for an adaptive reuse project.

Hire the professionals. Use a licensed architect to submit site plans and construction drawings, as well as a licensed contractor.

Not only is this state law, but a clear set of working construction drawings will save you time, money and delays during construction on a project. A good architect can anticipate the upgrades needed for the business and advise the owner of additional costs beforehand. A licensed contractor is required to pull any commercial building permit.

You should know cause and effect for additions or exterior work.

Building additions or parking lot improvements could require some civil work, grading and drainage plans, landscape upgrades or sometimes off-site improvements such as installing or replacing sidewalk, curb and gutters.      

Pena says these are issues that typically arise with an adaptive reuse project, but stresses her list is by no means comprehensive. Every business owner will have varying degrees of knowledge about the building permit process. For this reason, she recommends every business owner to do their due diligence of research beforehand.

If this doesn’t suffice, this is where the function of the OCA benefits the property owner. The department, which is within the City of Phoenix’s Planning and Development Department, has a staff of planners to “assist with pre-project research, formulate realistic timelines and advise small business owners on the development process and how to obtain a certificate of occupancy.”

For more information or to make an appointment, call 602-534-7344.    

Beadle Sculpture to be Installed at Loloma School

The Scottsdale Loloma School, which currently houses the Scottsdale Artist’s School, will receive a public arts installation this fall.

Normally this wouldn’t warrant its own blog post but, considering our offices at loloma 5’s proximity to the school (we are directly across the street) and, more importantly, the fact that the sculpture was based on a preliminary sketch by architect Alfred Newman Beadle, we have to believe it’s noteworthy!

Any public art installation by Beadle is almost as synonymous with the architect as his MidCentury designs are. These sculptures, painted in glossy primary colors, typically consist of simple geometric shapes  —  their futuristic designs arranged to convey harmony  — would often feature prominently in front of the latest project. If you’ve traveled past a building in central Phoenix with a large (probably fire-engine red) circular sculpture in scale with the adjacent structure, then that’s probably an installation by Beadle.

For instance, the Anderson House, designed in 1989, features such a sculpture, integrated into the entrance’s steel trellised patio.

An anonymous donor bestowed the sculpture, titled Ziggy’s Sister, produced around 2000, to Scottsdale Arts. After his passing in 1998, Beadle left behind a book of maquettes, none of which he ever made, says Wendy Raisanen, the Curator of Exhibitions and Collection at the council. The finished product meets the specifications, such as its blue paint color, as envisioned by Beadle.

Donations are rare, yet the sculpture is one of two recent acquisitions by the organization. The donation worked in the art school’s favor: For several years, they requested a sculpture to display in front their building, a property that itself belongs to the City of Scottsdale

“The way I saw it as appropriate as an historical addition to the property, how modern the Museum of the West is and then the Loloma School is much older, so this would be an aesthetic bridge from one to the next,” Raisanen said.

The City and Historical Commission currently are working to address minor issues, but Raisanen installation is tentatively scheduled for this fall, when the weather is more hospitable to hold a ceremony, as desired by the Beadle family. They plan to erect the sculpture on a concrete plinth section in one of the raised planters on the northeast corner, in front of the entrance.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with azarchitecture knows we are fanatical followers of this architect and his ethos — just check out our site with all of his work we’ve marketed in the past. So you can expect us to be the first in line at the installation ceremony!


Invasion of the Bike-Sharing

When Eric Smith, Ofo’s Western Regional Head of Communications, describes the conditions their company seeks for markets to bring their bike-sharing program to, it describes the City of Phoenix, an expanding city in the midst of transition, almost to a fault.

Ofo currently operates in 27 markets (and climbing) and, when looking to expand to new cities, they look for locales with high traffic congestion and local governments consciously trying to curb their carbon emissions. In addition, they seek a third quality of municipalities willing to partner with the bike-sharing company to share data for the betterment of their own transportation grid. Smith points positively to this scenario playing out in Colorado, where the data collected by the company told city planners and managers in Aurora where people commonly rode the bikes, which gave them mathematical probabilities as to where dedicated bike lanes were needed.

With smartphones, the logistics of using a bike-sharing program are simple: You need an smartphone, a bike-sharing app, one of the bikes and a credit card, to input for payments. You ride around and initiate the shackle brake in the back when you’re finished.

The sights of distinctive banana yellow and lime bikes, the bikes respectively belonging to Ofo and LimeBike, should be familiar to any resident of Old Town Scottsdale. Rows of these distinctive brightly colored bikes are propped up every couple of blocks throughout Old Town. Ofo won’t share how many bikes are on the ground for competitive reasons, but their two biggest markets Denver and Seattle each started with about 1,000 bikes.

The two companies represent a new subset of insurgent bike-sharing companies that are dockless, where the rider can park practically anywhere. As of this writing, Ofo and LimeBike haven’t expanded into central Phoenix. For now, GR:D. the most traditional model of bike sharing fills this model. Customers retrieve bikes from a permanent rack, which are unshackled via inputing a custom pin. They initially appeared in Arizona in Fall 2014, first appearing in midtown and downtown Phoenix, and expanding to Tempe, Gilbert in the following years.

Basically, dockless bike-sharing takes out the legwork, but with that comes drawbacks. Since bikes are tracked via GPS, the company can plot onto a computer map the wonderful and strange places the biker’s riders took the transports. Like a message in a bottle, Ofo bikes have traveled downstream as far south as Mesa Community College and in the vicinity of Deer Valley Airport in north Phoenix. If they sit inactive for more than a day, a night crew is dispatched to retrieve the bicycles.

If there is one aspect that’s controversial about the pilot program in Scottsdale, and indeed a common complaint following dockless bike-sharing wherever it goes, is the bikes cause a nuisance sometimes when they’re discarded by the user after a ride. It’s a problem that Smith and Ofo openly acknowledge and are willing to work with local municipalities to address.

“We definitely have worked with the City to figure out the barriers where the bikes need to be ridden and parked, but at the same time we can’t just stop the bike-riding past a geofence,” Smith said.

Yet, there’s a sweet spot within the “dockless sharing mobility” model, as Ofo calls it. Smith cites a testimonial of the proverbial starving college student whose car unexpectedly stalls on their way to class and they choose the $1 bike-rides versus the $35 ride from either Lyft or Uber. But, like their ride-sharing ancestors, people need awareness of the system before they fully embrace it and this is where, they think, having convenient brightly colored transportation, like the pink mustaches before it, partially advertises itself.

Their analysis of their short time in Scottsdale indicates an abundance of repeat riders clocking many short bike rides they view, which, so far, vindicates the expansion as a success.

“That’s kinda the joke we’re having right now is, we’re coming into these cities and disrupting them with 200-year-old technology,” Smith said.

Ode to R.T. Evans and His Camelback Corridor Adobe

This unique 1929 adobe, “Hacienda Alta”, once stood tall atop the rich desert site it occupied. For nearly ninety years, it sat at a special place in the Camelback Corridor, it’s unique and subtle Monterey Colonial detailing juxtaposed against the harsh desert acted as a time capsule of when it was built. For a small pocket of time in our Valley, a very human and appropriate sense of scale was expressed in these designs and local architect Robert T. Evans was the muse to translate these visions into physical, (so often adobe) “brick and mortar”, form.

If you don’t know the story of Robert T. Evans, its familiarity is akin to the many local architectural icons who’ve taken up residence in Arizona: In 1923, Evans and his wife Sylvia Gates relocated to Phoenix from Ohio and never looked back. Once here, Evans found quite a niche in adobe structures for the next decade, building an architecture firm, the Evans Construction Company, as well as publishing a periodical on such homes called, Adobe: A Magazine of Arizona Architecture, regaling the benefits of living in an adobe home.

In the 1920s and 30s, Arizona was a popular winter retreat for the rich and famous, commissioning architects to build custom homes. Evans catered to this affluential cliental desiring their own place in the Arizona Sun. Commissioned from noted residents such as John C. Lincoln, Donald Kellogg (Casa Blanca Inn),  and Rose Eisendrath, the widow of a Chicago glove producer, amongst handfuls of other wealthy benefactors.

This period in Evan’s architectural life lasted for more than a decade and took him all over the Valley. At a midway point in his popularity in 1929, he was commissioned to build a home (in the Camelback Corridor) for Horace Newhall. Like his other designs, including the Eisendrath House and adjacent Jokake Inn, the new home hosted commanding views. On its elevated parcel to the north, the curvature of Camelback Mountain was on full display. If the views are still awing in present day, then it’s difficult to perceive the undiluted spectacle people would have seen in the 1930s.

Throughout its existence, the hacienda sat adjacent to another Evans design, the famous Jokake Inn, which he initially created as a residence for his family. When we listed the abode in 2015, the home was a survivor in every sense of the word. Although it changed ownership several times, stewardship remained in the family, with the grandparents of the original owner maintaining possession. Miraculously, almost a century of owners shared the same vision of keeping the architect’s vision intact: 80 years later many of the original design elements remained, from the original redwood millwork, stained concrete flooring, hearth fireplace, roof deck, and even the original hardware.

Long time azarchitecture/Jarson & Jarson agent and co-lister, Tracey Zemer, commented, “When I showed the home, buyers always spoke of the spirit of happiness they felt as they walked through. I loved watching their faces when they walked in as it went from awe to joy.”

But, now it’s gone. Like far too many original homes along this corridor, many of them built in the original local adobe brick, this home and many like it are falling to demolition to make way for current building trends without regard to the history.

Serving as a real estate firm that specializes in the sale of Architecturally Unique Homes™ reality comes with the sad truth that occasionally a few buildings slip away, despite your best efforts.

We’re happy that we were able to document this gem before it met the wrecking ball. We would have been happier still if this gem continued to shine in the Valley but time marches on. All the more reason to celebrate them while they are still here to be enjoyed.

The Top Experiential and Eco-Friendly Landscape Trends of 2018

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) recently released its list of top landscape trends of 2018. NALP annually forecasts trends that will impact landscape planning, design and maintenance for the coming year. As the voice of the multibillion-dollar lawn and landscape industry, these tips are nothing to sneeze at. But be sure to stock up on your allergy medication, just in case.

“The top 2018 landscape trends reflect an evolution of the outdoor living trend we’ve seen grow in popularity over the past few years,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP. “Stimulated by a healthy economy, homeowners and property managers are innovating their landscapes in fun, new ways. Recognizing the tremendous value that beautiful and functional landscapes bring to homes and commercial properties, today’s landscapes are built to last so they can be used and enjoyed through all the seasons, year after year.”

In 2018, NALP predicts the following five trends to influence landscape planning and design:

1. Experiential landscape design. Today’s landscapes are thoughtfully and creatively built for living, working and playing, and bring together form and function for a quality outdoor experience. More residential landscapes feature designated areas for cooking, dining, relaxing and even working outdoors, armed with fully integrated outdoor lighting and audio/visual systems for a multisensory and multiuse experience, day or night. Office landscapes more frequently include walking and bicycle paths, dining areas or gardens to enhance the employees’ experience. For both residential and commercial landscapes, the experience often begins at the entrance, with beautiful lawns, plantings and design elements that make a welcoming or wowing first impression.

2. Climate-cognizant landscaping. Unpredictable weather patterns call for landscape enhancements that withstand extreme conditions and allow spaces to be enjoyed on unseasonably cool or warm days. More landscapes are planned with the unexpected in mind, such as pergolas with retractable canopies that can protect outdoor areas in wind, rain and snow; outdoor heaters for patios on chillier nights; and hardier hardscape materials that can handle drastic temperature fluctuations.

3. Emphasis on water management and conservation. A buzzword for years, sustainability in landscaping is more than a trend, it influences how landscapes are created and maintained now and in the years to come. In particular, the integration of eco-friendly watering practices are expected to continue to take off in 2018, including the use of plants native to a region (which generally use less water), xeriscaping (planning a landscape to use low-water use plants), and smarter irrigation technology.

4. Enhanced equipment and technology. The latest yard tools on the market consider ease of use and storage while incorporating more eco-friendly innovations. Many lawn mowers, leaf blowers and similar equipment feature low or no emissions, are battery-powered, and are quieter. Many lawn and garden tools are also designed to stack or fold to fit in the garage or shed. Professionals are also integrating more technology — mobile apps, 3D modeling and drones — into landscape planning.

5. Plants in playful colors and patterns. While the simple elegance of greenery was all the rage last year, 2018 will see a renewed interest in adding pops of color and whimsy to landscapes. With ultra violet named the Color of the Year by Pantone, a leading provider of color systems and an influencer on interior and exterior design, landscape professionals expect to integrate more violets, verbena, clematis, iris and other purple flowers into landscapes. “Patterned” plants are also getting their time in the garden spotlight, as these unique plants are revered for their intricate details, such as striped leaves or brightly colored veins.

The voice of the landscape industry, NALP develops its trends reports based on a survey of its members and by drawing from the expertise of landscape professionals representing various regions of the U.S. who are at the forefront of outdoor trends. The landscape trends are also influenced by broader lifestyle and design trends.

Source: http://www.landscapeprofessionals.org/nalp/media/2018-press-releases/NALP-top-landscape-trends-2018.aspx

About NALP

NALP represents an industry that employs nearly 1 million landscape, lawn care, irrigation and tree care professionals who create and maintain healthy green spaces for the benefit of society and the environment.

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 Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (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 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!