A complicated site and breathtaking desert views dictate the design of this organic modern gem by Brissette Architects and Rosensteel Design.
The patio boasts 180-degree views of Three Sisters, Weavers Needle, Pinnacle Peak, Tom’s Thumb and State Farm Stadium.
When presented with a complicated mountaintop lot at Seven Arrows in Desert Mountain, architects Ron Brissette and Jeff Kamtz of Brissette Architects, Inc. had a challenge on their hands. “We needed to visualize a design that fit well into the surrounding environment in an organic fashion,” says Brissette, who worked closely with the Desert Mountain Design Review Committee on the project. “We also wanted to take full advantage of the views to ‘look at what’s beyond.’” The team was tasked with creating an architecturally significant main home and guest casita on the tricky terrain.
The home’s intricate layers and complex designs allow it to play into the landscape organically.
The clients—a retired couple with two rescue greyhounds—had another home in Wisconsin designed by a former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice and sought an Arizona abode that followed Wright’s style and principles of organic design. Instead of brand-new pieces, the homeowners chose to use their collection of vintage Danish furniture and artwork throughout the new home. “Danish design tends to be heavily influenced by the natural world,” says Rosensteel. “More specifically, it is influenced by how the natural world affects daily living... This ties in with Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy of creating environments that were both functional and humane.”
The primary bedroom is nestled above a rose quartz mine and located in the perfect spot for the morning light. The homeowners love watching the sun rise over Apache Peak in the morning from this spot.
“Ron Brissette, Jeff Kamtz and I all came from Taliesin,” Rosensteel explains. “They were both apprentices of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and I was principal in the firm Taliesin Architects from 1995 to 1999.” Considering their roots, the team was a natural fit for the design-savvy clients. R.J. Gurley Construction was selected as the builder, and Native Resources International for landscape installation.
A glass stairway—lined with Santa Rosa tapestries from Columbia and windows by Western Window Systems—leads to the downstairs sitting area, bedrooms and wine cellar.
“[We had] as much free reign to design with the clients within the difficult scope of the lot,” says Kamtz. “Capturing of views was paramount.” The mountainside setting determined the home’s hemicycle shape with the pool cantilevered off the front edge. “The home is built above an abandoned quartz mine located on the side of a mountain,” adds Brissette. “That mine, quartz pieces found on the site and a pristine natural landscape inspired creating a pavilion-like living experience of being one with the mountain and one with the view.”
The client visited Hope’s Windows in Jamestown, NY to create and imagine the final appearance of their curved door design, which was glazed locally at Elevation Window & Door. As enthusiasts of Frank Lloyd Wright, they made a pit stop at Falling Water while on the trip.
“I think the best way to approach the home is from the moment you enter the compressed entry—a Frank Lloyd Wright philosophy—to the point that you are invited in to experience the soaring ceilings in the great room, your eye is immediately directed to a 270-degree view of all of Desert Mountain and beyond,” says Rosensteel. “The interior elements of furnishings and art are secondary to the view, which is your biggest piece of constantly changing art.”
The great room includes thoughtful flourishes, such as copper cladding that references the home’s exterior details, and meticulously engineered and installed ceiling boards that decrease in radius as they approach the clerestory windows. The unique kitchen—made with Mozambique wood—was designed to blend with the architecture and feel more furniture-like.
The central great room houses the kitchen, living and dining areas, the primary bedroom and bathroom are on the house’s east side, and the storage room, laundry and offices are off the hallway. “Doors are strategically placed so you don’t see a convergence of doors but instead focus on the curve of the walls, the stonework and the simple but clean lines,” Rosensteel explains. “The house is designed to be lived on the main level with a casita attached at the prow of this desert ship.”
Natural granite slabs from Brazil provide an indoor-outdoor shower experience in the primary bathroom, where a multifunctional center island follows the room’s unique shape. Copper cladding and stone also flow seamlessly between the indoors and outside.
“The primary bathroom is one of my favorite spaces,” Rosensteel shares. “There is an indoor-outdoor shower that has an incredible piece of granite that unifies both spaces. The center island picks up the angles of the floor plan and incorporates several useful functions.” Brissette and Kamtz call out the main great room that’s “curved to follow the hillside” as a highlight.
Located beside the main house on the upper level, the casita’s bathroom windows boast mountain views.
“We added a 70-foot curved, motorized glass door system by Hope’s Windows, which opens the entire room up to the rear patio, pool and distant views,” Kamtz says. “The flooring is seamless from the interior to the exterior to make it feel like one space. The ceiling slopes up parallel to the mountain and is covered with custom tapered white oak that continues past the curved glass clerestory at the bottom and through the band of clerestory windows at the top. All this [makes] the roof feel like it’s floating above the room.”
An infinity pool on the patio has serene views of Mummy Mountain, Piestewa Peak and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
“While I don’t design for my lifestyle, instead for the needs, wants and wishes of our clients, I always feel a moment of exhaling when I step into this beautifully built home,” says Rosensteel. “It breathes on the side of the mountain with a quiet contentment.” Adds Brissette, “The homeowners and the dogs immediately felt comfort and at home—even prior to the finishing touches, they were slowly moving in. As a special gift, we gave them their first Cosanti bell to hang in the entry exterior, and they loved it.”
A large rose quartz boulder found on the property—carefully placed below the copper point at the home’s entrance—pays homage to the land.
Seven Arrows in Desert Mountain
Ron Brissette and Jeff Kamtz, Brissette Architects, Inc.
Elizabeth Rosensteel and Iliana Shongov, Rosensteel Design
Azul-Verde Design Group, Inc.
Native Resources International
R.J. Gurley Construction
Quail Hill Interiors
Johnny Black, Black Platinum Solar
ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING, AUDIO/VISUAL AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS
Acoustic Designs Group
Phoenician Pool Construction
Elevation Window & Door
Western Window Systems