The Best of Arizona: Architecture

2011-10-30T00:00:00Z 2013-04-10T00:08:44Z The Best of Arizona: Architecture Arizona Daily Star
October 30, 2011 12:00 am

Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright, 1937, Scottsdale. Designed and built by Wright and his students as a winter counterpart to his Wisconsin home/studio/school exemplifying his "organic" approach to architecture applied to the desert. The once remote buildings of the Taliesin complex are inspired by the geometry of surrounding mountains, oriented to capture both warmth and cool breezes, and aesthetically integrated into the landscape with concrete walls punctuated with stones from the site.

Ball-Paylore House

Arthur Brown, 1952, Tucson. Brown was far ahead of his time, constantly experimenting with passive solar design in his buildings and often revealed through his inventions. The glass south faces of this house's hexagonal plan open to an outdoor patio covered by a set of movable shade screens that glide along a track and allow the owners to be their own masters of sun control both daily and seasonally.

Arcosanti

Paolo Soleri, 1970, Cordes Junction. Arcology is what Soleri called his conceptual marriage of architecture and ecology, exhibited here as an ongoing experiment in human settlement. While not yet fully realized, Arcosanti models an alternative urban prototype of compact mixed-use structures, greenhouses for food production and solar heat collection, and preserved natural desert.

Ramada House

Judith Chafee, 1975, Tucson. This house was named for the large wooden ramada that, like its O'odham antecedent, both shades its occupants - in this case, in a masonry house - and channels the ventilating breezes. The house became a model of the critical regionalism movement, defined by the synthesis of modernist architectural expressions with the cultural, geographic and climatic concerns of a particular place, and put her and Tucson on the international architecture map.

Burton Barr Central Library

Will Bruder/DWL Architects & Planners, 1995, Phoenix. Bruder is a pioneer of the Arizona School of architects, and this five-story landmark, one of its exemplars. Beyond metaphoric references to interior spaces as desert canyons, and real references to skylights aligned to seasonal solar events, this public library celebrates contemporary building technologies, such as a tensile-supported, suspended ceiling on the expansive fifth-floor reading room. This building appropriately responds to its desert surroundings with bold forms that distinguish the vast open north/south louvered window walls from the sun-screened east/west perforated skin walls.

- Selected by R. Brooks Jeffery, director of the Drachman Institute at the UA College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

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