Architecture and Design

The Dwell Home Tour Came to Scottsdale on Saturday — Here's What We Saw

Anyone who's gotten lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood knows there's more to the Valley's homes than faux adobe.

And while there's certainly no shortage of annual home tours dedicated to the central city's historic neighborhoods, those who enjoy peeking into and poking around strangers' homes had another opportunity to do so this weekend.

The second installment of Dwell magazine's Dwell Home Tours series came to Scottsdale on Saturday, May 21, for a look at modern living in the desert as curated by the publication's editors. Presented in partnership with the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (which, in conjunction with Modern Phoenix, helps produce the annual Modern Phoenix Week and the always-sold out Modern Phoenix Home Tour), the self-guided tour highlighted five distinct residences in Arcadia, Paradise Valley, and Scottsdale.

Tickets weren't cheap at $100 each, but the purchase of one got tour-goers into a separate "Meet the Architects" evening at SMoCA the night before. While the price-point was steep, it did make for a more intimate experience: Fewer people meant smaller crowds, and smaller crowds meant more architecture and the ability to engage with the homeowners, designers, and architects throughout the tour.

Known for publishing drool-worthy designs and being chock-full of architectural envy, Dwell is no stranger to Phoenix's stretch of the Sonoran Desert. Last year, in collaboration with the Monogram appliance company, the magazine brought its Monogram Modern Home to Scottsdale. The city was just one of six on the $325,000 prefabricated home's summer tour. Not to mention many of the Valley's most coveted homes have graced the publication's glossy pages or been featured online, like a half-historic, half-modern design in the Coronado Historic District and Christoph Kaiser's wildly popular grain silo-turned-homestead.

This weekend's event featured designs by Will Bruder Architects, StudioROEDER, Lightvox Studio, and Woolsey Studio (MAYA). Each represented a different interpretation of desert living with unique plays on form and function.

Byrne/Bills Residence
Built by Will Bruder Architects, 1998
3,316 square feet, Pinnacle Peak

The Byrne/Bills Residence is no stranger to publicity. Designed by Will Bruder Architects, the two-story single-family home is one of his most recognizable pieces. Built by Bill and Carol Byrne and presently owned by David and Martha Bills, who bought the home in 2010, the residence echoes its north Scottsdale desert surroundings, from the copper accents and metal walls to the large windows and concrete detailing.

Bruder, who designed Burton Barr Library in Central Phoenix, is known for creating buildings that are geometrically stunning with unexpected floor plans, like the small upstairs kitchen and downstairs living room that peeks out into the surrounding desert, as the house borrows from nature as its inspiration. The home itself is full of unique art, but its execution and the details of the design are pieces of art unto themselves.

Jarson Residence
Built by Will Bruder Architects, 2007
3,434 square feet, Paradise Valley

Nearly a decade later, Bruder created a similar experience on a mountainside in Paradise Valley, where expansive views of the McDowell Mountains and the natural landscaping of the lot take desert living to new — and literal — heights. The design uses steel, copper, and glass to create a facade that stands out without doing so loudly, while the interiors seem to play with light and subtlety: the floors are cork or concrete, and the living room feels almost exceptionally grand — despite its size, a washer and dryer is hidden behind cabinetry (which extends to the ceiling) in the master bath. A small, waist-high window looks directly into the rocks on which the home is built, and natural light, from the windows of the master bedroom to the hallways, is abundant.

Like Bruder's other designs, despite entering at the upper level (which houses the bedrooms and an office), the living space is cordoned off from the rest of the home, located downstairs and across from an open kitchen. A music studio and potter's room are also on the lower level, as is access to the pool. Bruder likes to play with space, giving the illusion of some when there is little and challenging expectations when it comes to a floorplan. With the Jarson residence, that makes for a dramatic touch — and an ideal home for two of the town's prominent real-estate professionals.

Heiny Residence
Renovated by StudioROEDER, 2015
2,427 square feet, Marion Estates

If the Jarson Residence is what happens when you design for real-estate agents (high drama, big picture), then the Heiny Residence is the result of an architect creating for himself. The homeowner, an architect, collaborated with StudioROEDER to update this 1958 home in east Phoenix, and the design is all about the details. 

"As an architect, you're always sketching your own home," says Scott Roeder of this Marion Estates renovation. The midcentury original, two separate masonry structures, was created by George Allan & Hugo Olson architects and has been home to the owners for 30 years. Though the buildings could feel small, with their flat roofs, low parapet walls, and eight-foot-high ceilings, the space feels open and airy because of an expansive courtyard in the center of the property. An improved layout, designed by Roeder and featuring construction from 180 Degrees Inc., bridges the main house and guest house by creating an indoor-outdoor compound, with heavy reliance on Arcadia windows, weathered steel siding, and cold rolled steel details. The inside is an homage to the Midcentury Modern lifestyle, from the purposeful furniture to the replica Eames lounge chair among a larger collection.

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Janessa is a native Phoenician. She joined New Times as a contributor in 2013. You can connect with her on social media at @janessahilliard, and she promises you'll find no pictures of cats on her Instagram — but plenty of cocktails.
Contact: Janessa Hilliard