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Rising to New Heights
By David M. Brown | Photo: by David Bramlett | October 6, 2017
A talented design/build team creates a sleek family home in Canyon Heights.
To create this masterful north Scottsdale home for its joyous owners, the architect came home too.
Completed recently by RMB Luxury Real Estate of Phoenix for an active family, the 5,190-square-foot desert contemporary single-level home includes five en suite bedrooms and a casita on 1.66 acres in Canyon Heights, next to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve with its beckoning canyons, washes, hillsides and trails.
“One of the pleasures working on this home was that it allowed me to return to my home area,” says architect Kevin Howard, who grew up nearby. For years, he has established a reputation from Tucson for a desert-modern style—well before it was vogue. “I’d bike out to this area long before it was a preserve, and it just felt good to me,” he recalls. “It was here that I fell in love with the Sonoran Desert.”
One day he cycled out to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Scottsdale studio and school. Howard didn’t know what he had found. “At first, my young eyes thought it was a fort because it was so different from any other building I had ever seen. My father brought me back in a car, and we toured it. I was only 11, but I immediately felt a spiritual connection.”
In turn, the owners of the Canyon Heights home connected with Howard’s work when they began searching for an architect who shared their love for the flora and fauna of the high desert. “This area in the McDowells is so much like the Catalina Mountains in Tucson, I felt at home immediately,” Howard says.
Inspired by both areas, the Canyon Heights home offers low horizontal lines, with massing that shields it from the sun while protecting the view corridors too, explains Howard, who was influenced in his design by Wright and fellow modernists such as Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler.
“Like the mountains and canyon around it, this home flows from and back into the setting,” says Bob Banovac, who leads the RMB Luxury team with son Michael Banovac and Debra Richardson. “It’s subtly tiered like the mountains. The natural stone we used on the inside and out is earth-toned like them, and even the infinity-edge pool seems to flow from the site into the desert wash behind it like a natural lake into the mountains.”
The open-plan interior complements this connectivity. “The design was based on the architect’s vision of a modern, uncluttered home that takes advantage of the beautiful site,” explains Kim Dalton, principal of Scottsdale-based Dalton Interiors, who specializes in integrating home interiors with natural environments. One reason, again, the clients chose her services. “The view, as well as easy access to the outdoors, was a predominant theme. I felt it was important to blur the lines between interior and exterior to maximize living areas.”
The flexible great room exemplifies this. Think of the area as a circle, with four connecting quadrants: the dining room, the kitchen, the great room and the pool patio. Here and throughout the home, Howard provides contrast by varying the ceiling heights, such as 15-foot ceilings in the great room, designed for expansiveness and openness to the outside; the kitchen, slightly cozier at 12 feet; and 10 feet in the bedrooms, for the most intimacy.
Similarly, the master bathroom connects to an outdoor bath and shower, a luxury respite area installed by Scottsdale’s Studio41, which supplied the fixtures and completed the plumbing throughout the home. And, a gym opens to the patio and the desert mountains beyond with a simple garage door.
Dalton complemented this openness with a simple palette matching structural elements such as the ground face block on the exterior and interior walls. Inside, she used earth-toned hardwood flooring, steel, glass and walnut.
“For all of us on the design/construction team and the owners,” Michael says, “this beautiful home celebrates the contemporary desert lifestyle, inside and out—a modern marvel married to the landscape.”
Kevin B. Howard Architects
Collaborative V Design Studio Inc.
Motorized window shades
Mountain State Drapery
Phoenix Cabinet company
Finishes and plumbing fixtures
Valley View Window & Door
Western Window systems